Category Archives: Agriculture

Some links: 85

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Another source

Richard Conniff makes the case for a carbon tax on beef.

Agriculture, including cattle raising, is our third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, after the energy and industrial sectors.

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Beef and dairy cattle together account for an outsize share of agriculture and its attendant problems, including almost two-thirds of all livestock emissions,….

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The emissions come partly from the fossil fuels used to plant, fertilize and harvest the feed to fatten them up for market. In addition, ruminant digestion causes cattle to belch and otherwise emit huge quantities of methane [a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide].

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The way feedlots and other producers manage manure also ensures that cattle continue to produce methane long after they have gone to the great steakhouse in the sky.

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Superb owls

Integrated pest management in Israel teams up with cross-border cooperation, as Josie Glausiusz reports.

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Some links: 81

Some links, Coffee and Birds Edition:

  • Jodi Helmer reports on the nascent coffee industry in California. Even in this non-tropical climate, at least one farmer is going the shade-grown route:

    Andy Mullins of Mullins Family Farm in Temecula… planted 1,000 coffee trees under the canopies of the avocado trees on his 4-acre farm.

  • A study from India by Charlotte H. Chang et al. indicates that coffee plantations given over to robusta supported nearly the same level of biodiversity as arabica farms, as summarized by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
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Perking

From the coffee and birds file: Juan Medrano et al. at the University of California, Davis have published the genome of Coffea arabica.

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Some links: 77

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Best practices

Gustave Axelson reminds us of the shade coffee-and-birds connection. His visit to a farm owned by Veronica Sanchez and her family is particularly heartening.

Why?, I ask Sanchez. Why do all this, preserving and planting trees and messing with plastic bottle traps, and forgo the money in the here-and-now that her neighbor is getting?

“We use good practices and we have a peace of mind knowing we are producing something of organic quality,” if not certified organic, she said.

“If we apply poisons to the coffee, we also poison the animals from the land and sky, such as insects and birds, and in turn we pollute the water.” And that affects everything from her family to the people who drink her coffee, she said.

Por eso son malas prácticas,” she said. These are malpractices.

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Cardenalito

Species preservation and coffee agriculture meet: Ed Yong explains the conservation prospects for the Red Siskin (Spinus cucullata).

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Messy

Stephanie Strom visits a big soybean/corn agricultural complex (spanning two states) and finds a old school farm practice that improves soil quality, reduces sediment runoff, and improves yields: cover crops.

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Some links: 75

Birds, habitat, coffee agriculture—and 10 ways of looking at Northern Virginia.

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Migrants

A reminder from BirdNote, with resource links, that shade-grown coffee is always a good idea.

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Some links: 74

A mini-roundup of bird-related links:

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Drupes

Tamara Bonnemaison introduces us to Coffea arabica for Botany Photo of the Day.

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Highbush

Dan Charles revisits the circumstances that led to the domestication of blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) by Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville. Blueberries are my favorite breakfast fruit, and my ex-wife did her doctoral research on blueberry pathogens. And extra serendipitous: I was in Hammonton just last month, and I saw some of the guys sweating out in the fields getting the crop in.

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Gut check

Javier A. Ceja-Navarro et al. suggest a novel means of controlling the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), as summarized by The Economist. The authors provide evidence that one of the species of bacteria that reside in the beetle’s digestive system, Pseudomonas fulva, detoxifies the caffeine that the coffee plant produces as a natural herbivore deterrent. Knock out the bacterium, perhaps with a targeted bacteriophage, and you knock out the pest.

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