Taxonomy term

agriculture

Irrigation drives rain away in East Africa

Researchers have found that large-scale agricultural irrigation, intended to supplement precipitation, may actually drive rainfall away, potentially exacerbating conditions in some areas while improving them in nonirrigated lands. 
 
28 Jan 2016

How to feed 11 billion people: Addressing the 21st century's biggest challenge

Feeding the world in the future, as global populations reach upward of 11 billion in the next century, is likely to be a Herculean task. But researchers are working on how to address the issue from the skies down to the fields.

18 Jan 2016

Toxic Gardens: The long legacy of urban lead

Many urban soils, including those in parks, playgrounds and community gardens, remain contaminated with lead from its historic use in gasoline and house paint. But there are ways to mitigate the risks of this legacy lead.
 
11 Oct 2015

Geologic Column: September 26, 1774: The man, the myth, the legend of Johnny Appleseed is born

Little is known about the early life of John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, except that he was born in Massachusetts on Sept. 26, 1774. But he went on to become an orchardist and nurseryman and eventually a folk hero, helping tame the wilderness by planting apple orchards. 
14 Sep 2015

Pre-settlement erosion rates illuminated

Humans are one of the most powerful erosive agents on Earth, moving copious amounts of sediment to and fro, mainly through agriculture and development. But quantifying how much we actually move — often a necessary step for developing sustainable land management practices — hinges on determining erosion rates in an area before humans intervened. A new study using surface exposure dating to estimate pre-colonial erosion rates in the southeastern U.S. has now clarified the natural background rate in more detail than ever before, revealing the dramatic human impact on the regional landscape.

 
31 May 2015

Geomedia: Books: Breaking New Ground

Agricultural scientist Lester Brown ponders the global future of agriculture, but his roots as a tomato farmer make him keenly aware of the local challenges of feeding a growing population. A 1986 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for his pioneering interdisciplinary work in the field of sustainable development, and the founder of the Worldwatch Institute, Brown reflects on his life and career in his autobiography, “Breaking New Ground: A Personal History.”

 
16 Apr 2015

Rome's hidden water trade led to glory, maybe ruin

Crumbling aqueducts crisscross the lands that once belonged to Rome, relics of a water system that sustained an empire. But now, research suggests that much of the water that flowed into Roman cities did not come gurgling down a conduit — it came in copious quantities of grain, imported to feed a growing population.

 
12 Apr 2015

Geologic Column: Lighting out for the territory

The author contemplates the history of westward expansion into arid lands and wonders if our unwise use of resources in places like the U.S. Southwest will eventually return the land "to the process of geology."

27 Feb 2015

Climate impacting a few of our favorite foodstuffs

Researchers have found that the number of foggy winter days in California’s agriculture-heavy Central Valley has dropped 46 percent on average over the past three decades. Fog shields the valley from sunlight and contributes to the amount of “winter chill” — the amount of time spent between zero and 7 degrees Celsius during winter dormancy — that fruit and nut trees there experience. Sufficient winter chill is necessary for buds, flowers and fruit to develop properly, and although winter chill has previously been observed to have decreased since the 1950s, no one had conducted a long-term analysis of fog occurrence trends in the area, according to Dennis Baldocchi and Eric Waller of the University of California at Berkeley.

24 Sep 2014

Virtual water: Tracking the unseen water in goods and resources

Trading in “virtual water” — rainfall and irrigation water used in the production of food commodities or other goods and services, but that isn’t part of the final product — between water-rich and water-poor regions has been suggested as a means to allay water scarcity. And recently, the virtual water concept has gained a foothold among a number of governments and multinational businesses, potentially shaping approaches to water sustainability in the future.

21 Sep 2014

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