Taxonomy term

agriculture

Burning grass releases more nitrogen pollution than burning wood

Smoke from fires — whether from wildfires or from residential and agricultural grass and crop burning — carries pollutants into the air that affect climate and can be toxic to humans and ecosystems. According to new research, smoke from crop and grass fires appears to contain higher levels of some hazardous nitrogen-containing chemicals than wood fire smoke. The work also calls into question whether certain chemicals commonly used as distinctive signatures of biomass burning are still valid.

06 Feb 2017

'P' is for phosphate: Could urine solve a fertilizer shortage?

Phosphorus is essential to plant growth, but there’s a looming shortage, which could leave global agriculture without the fertilizer needed to feed growing populations. Some scientists think, with some tweaks to our sanitation system, human urine could be mined for the necessary phosphorus.

26 Jun 2016

Take a stand (or sit) for better water quality management

The average person urinates four to seven times over a 24-hour period, producing about 1.5 liters of urine per day. Here are some things you can do today to help conserve water, improve water quality, and keep all that waste from going to waste.

 
26 Jun 2016

Uranium contamination in aquifers could be linked to nitrate

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant life, but plants can only take up so much so fast. When excess nitrogen enters the environment by way of fertilizer and manure runoff, as well as in automobile and industrial emissions, it becomes a pollutant that can leach into waterways, carrying with it unintended — and often undesirable — consequences. In a new study, researchers have found evidence of one such consequence: elevated uranium levels in two major U.S. aquifers.

17 Feb 2016

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

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