Friday, September 23, 2011

SWCS Conservation NewsBriefs
Sept. 22, 2011

More trouble lies ahead for Mississippi River watershed
Twin Cities Daily Planet
A three-hour drive separates the rolling hills of Minnesota's Douglas County from the front steps of the Bell Museum of Natural History. But a year after the controversy over "Troubled Waters" — the Bell's film on farmland pollution in the Mississippi River basin—brought words like dead zone, hypoxia and nitrogen fertilizer to the attention of the general public, what's happening in places like west-central Minnesota provides an insight into what the future holds for the health of the entire watershed all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.More
Chesapeake Bay: Farmers learn about tools that help reduce nitrogen pollution
Daily Press Diggin' In Blog
A U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist in Colorado is helping farmers grow crops with less nitrogen-based fertilizer. Jorge Delgado, with the Agricultural Research Service Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo., helped develop a tool designed for fledgling environmental trading credit programs that reward growers for reducing nitrogen losses. Known as the Nitrogen Trading Tool, it can be used to determine how much a proposed management practice may be able to reduce nitrogen losses, and how much "trading credit" could be earned by switching to it.More
A push to farm smarter — not bigger — to feed the world's hungry
The Christian Science Monitor
With famine in Africa and food prices at record highs, governments and agencies around the globe are looking to educate small farmers about more efficient, sustainable agriculture practices. The United States is rolling out agricultural partnerships around the globe, particularly through its $3 billion Feed the Future Initiative, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. One of its stated goals is "to leverage $70 billion in private investment in agriculture that improves sustainable market opportunities and linkages with smallholder farmers."More
Study: Organic farming shows long-term profitability
WholeFoods Magazine
Farms that produce organic food are economically viable on a long-term basis, and are perhaps more profitable than conventional farms, according to new research by the American Society of Agronomy. The study, conducted by the University of Minnesota and recently published in Agronomy Journal, analyzed 18 years of crop yields and other farm data. Findings included a lower risk of poor returns for organic corn and soybean crop rotations than for conventional rotations.More
Sucking up water, sand in the quest for natural gas
Dallas Observer
For folks in the sandy hills an hour and a half northwest of Dallas, it's a devil's bargain for gas, water and jobs. The record drought is forcing farmers in and around Saint Jo, Texas, to tap into well water, putting added pressure on the Trinity Aquifer. The locals are especially worried about what is being fed into Mountain Creek with the construction of EOG Resources' sand mine just 50 yards away. EOG will soon need to pump large amounts of water from the aquifer for its sand mine’s primary business — fracking.More
Conservation farming threatened by lack of funds in Namibia
The Namibian
A six year conservation farming project in has led to a massive rise in output for around 400 northern Namibia agricultural farmers who took part in the trial runs. Statistics show that yield increases at farms which adopted a conservation approach to agriculture ranged from between 200 to 500 percent. Despite the success of the two phases of the project, funding has ended and the project's future hangs in the balance.More
Why hairy vetch should interest farmers
Winnipeg Free Press
Cover crops have traditionally been used by organic farmers to produce fertilizer, writes columnist Laura Rance. A legume crop, which produces its own nitrogen, such as clover, is planted in the field every second year or so and then worked into the soil, where it decomposes and feeds the following year's crop. As it turns out, some of these cover crops, particularly a legume called hairy vetch, are also good at controlling weeds.More
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