Renewable Farming

Month: August 2015

Fast-food diet “devastates” gut bacteria: Who’s really responsible?

Dr. Arden Andersen, who holds a post-doctorate degree in public health, looked right in the eyes of his farmer audience at a Des Moines seminar a couple of winters ago: His accusation went something like this: “How are you going to explain to your grandson who develops diabetes at age five, your granddaughter who can’t …

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Equatorial Pacific anomaly 1997-2015

NASA climatologist: This could be the “Godzilla of El Niños”

For months, meteorologists have warily watched the current El Niño building in the equatorial Pacific. But they’ve cautioned the public to “wait and see” how much impact it will have. Finally this week, Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA, told the Lost Angeles Times: “This definitely has the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño. …

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Glyphosate based herbicide formulations: toxic at “safe” regulatory levels?

A new study accepted for publication in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicity examines a wide range of research on glyphosate in conjunction with its chemical adjuvants, which are used to enhance effectiveness in killing weeds.  Glyphosate is one of the most-studied compounds known. But it has almost always been used alone in toxicology …

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Turkeys in the driveway

More crop diversity, fewer crop pests

Finally, researchers have actually counted aphids, beetles and other insects in a wide array of actual farm cornfields to confirm — statistically — what many agronomists have long observed: Wider crop diversity on a farm increases diversity of arthropods and thus reduces economic losses from runaway populations of damaging insect pests. Amazingly, USDA-ARS entomologist Jonathan Lundgren and South Dakota State University …

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Foliar feeding can add bushels to beans during pod fill

One of the most profitable farming inventions since the combine is the high-clearance, GPS-equipped field sprayer.  But we’re surprised at how early in the season many sprayer owners park their big spray rigs in the machine shed. That doesn’t happen in Europe. Small grains, corn and soybeans typically get foliar-fed through the summer, increasing seed fill and density. If it’s …

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Scotland’s government announces total ban on growing of GMO crops

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, announced that the government will opt out of European Union regulations on GMO crops, and impose a total ban on growing such crops in Scotland. This will include crops previously approved by the European Union. He said, “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish …

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Wildlife and human disease trends — and the herbicide connection

One of the most detailed and documented scientific studies of the link between herbicides and disease in wildlife and humans was published this week in an open-access professional journal, “Poultry, Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences.”  The authors are Judy Hoy, Nancy Swanson and Stephanie Seneff. Swanson and Seneff have compiled in-depth demographics on links between herbicides …

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New study: How glyphosate impacts earthworms

Several years ago at a Farmland Foundation reception in Washington DC, I met an EPA official in charge of pesticide registration.  He exuded confidence that his agency was protecting the U.S. public from toxins, while permitting scientific advances in crop protection. I asked, “Does EPA require toxicological studies of herbicide effects on soil organisms such …

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