Low Intensity Farming Gets High Results

Everybody knows that factory farming isn’t a sustainable use of land, but it’s still be practised because people think it’s more efficient. It turns out that low intensity farming produces some stellar results too. Researchers looking into cattle on farms found many benefits from a low intensity approach. Indeed, by practicing low intensity farming farmers cane bring life back to their soil and help benefit many species suffering through the ongoing climate crisis. Let’s be less intense, and if you’re looking for a faster fix to help farm fields recover you can reduce the amount of meat you consume.

Researchers found that less intensively managed grassland had greater diversity of plant species and, strikingly, this correlated with better soil health, such as increased nitrogen and carbon levels and increased numbers of soil invertebrates such as springtails and mites.

In the same study, the researchers used the same methods to examine the plant diversity and soil from grasslands on 56 mostly beef farms from the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) – a farmer group that has developed standards to manage and improve soil and pasture health.

The researchers found that plots of land from PFLA farms had greater plant diversity – on average an additional six plant species, including different types of grasses and herbaceous flowering plants, compared to intensively farmed plots from the Countryside Survey. In addition, grassland plants on these farms were often taller, a quality which is proven to be beneficial to butterflies and bees.

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Farm Fields of Solar Produce Bonuses

Solar panels on grass

In the UK the average person wants to get off fossil fuels, but the Conservatives in power want the opposite. Obviously this is not good, and it gets worse: the new PM Liz Truss wants to ban solar panels on farms, Conservatives clearly don’t understand how the world works.

The good news comes from research proving that agrivoltaics (agriculture + solar voltaic panels) are a boon to farmers. Solar panels on farms are good for revenue for farms, renewable energy, and the very crops farms are growing. Yes, solar panels on farm increase crop production!

One study found certain peppers will have three times the production,” said Bousselot. “That’s a shocking number.”

As global temperatures rise, the panels can also help to conserve dwindling freshwater supplies by reducing evaporation from both plants and soil.

What evaporation does occur underneath the panels has the added benefit of cooling the PVs and boosting their electricity production, according to Randle-Boggis, a research associate at the University of Sheffield.

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Vertical Farming and the Future of Farms

Quality farmland ensures a good harvest which benefits many, from the producers of produce to the consumers. Our cities have grown around good for sources from the sea and land, this puts pressure on the local politicians to give up arable land to developers. In Ontario, the conservative party values developers over food. What will the future of food be as we destroy soil with asphalt? Farms will have to go vertical.

Another plus of vertical farming is that pesticides aren’t even in the equation. The extremely tight control these companies exert in the farm facilities means there are few concerns about contamination and illness caused by toxic chemicals, bugs, invasive species or vermin. Regardless, as Seawell demonstrated, these companies are not taking any chances: staff and visitors are still required to wear a full body suit with shoe covers, rubber gloves and a hairnet to limit any foreign contaminants.

Vertical farming also makes it possible for communities to have almost immediate access to produce. Facilities can be built and operated close to or even with dense urban neighborhoods. Vegetables and fruits don’t need to traverse thousands of miles from farm to grocery store and risk spoiling (food waste during transit is a contributor to the 40 percent of all food in the U.S. that ends up in landfills). Even when produce survives the journey, it can lose significant nutritional value; spinach, for instance, can lose up to 90 percent of its vitamin C nutrients within a day of harvest.

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A Small Diet Change Makes a Big Difference

Phramacy

Absolutely no one is shocked by new research that concludes beef is the worst thing to eat. If we’re going to feed billions of people on the planet while also having a livable planet for billions then we all ought to consume less meat. Raising cattle only to slaughter is a wasteful use of land that can otherwise feed way more people and cause a lot less damage to the environment.

The production of food makes up a third of greenhouse gas emissions so just by making a small change to your diet you can make it easier on future generations to survive. Eat less meat, eat more vegetables.

The researchers built a database that provided a consistent emissions profile of 171 crops and 16 animal products, drawing data from more than 200 countries. They found that South America is the region with the largest share of animal-based food emissions, followed by south and south-east Asia and then China. Food-related emissions have grown rapidly in China and India as increasing wealth and cultural changes have led more younger people in these countries to adopt meat-based diets.

The paper’s calculations of the climate impact of meat is higher than previous estimates – the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization has said about 14% of all emissions come from meat and diary production. The climate crisis is also itself a cause of hunger, with a recent study finding that a third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate.

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Cleaner Air Produced $5 Billion in Crops

lab

Farmers can’t control the air quality of their farms, yet the air makes quite the difference to the success of the crops. Since air can’t respect property rights it requires governments to act, and that’s what happened back in the 1990s in the USA when environmental regulations to improve air quality were put in place. A study of the impact of those regulations revealed that $5 billion USD in crops can be traced back to improved air quality.

Protecting the environment is good for the planet and for profits!

Focusing on a nine-state region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin) that produces roughly two-thirds of national maize and soybean output, Lobell and study co-author Jennifer Burney, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of California, San Diego, set out to measure the impact on crop yields of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

“This has been a tricky problem to untangle because historically our measurements of different types of air pollutants and our measurements of agricultural yields haven’t really overlapped spatially at the necessary resolution,” explained Burney. “With the new high spatial resolution data, we could look at crop yields near both pollution monitors and known pollutant emissions sources. That revealed evidence of different magnitudes of negative impacts caused by different pollutants.”

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