Environmental Integrity

Environmental Integrity

Use Biotech to Beef Up Climate Fight

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Poor nations shouldn’t miss out on advances such as lab-cultured meat and low-methane GM rice, says Jayson Merkley.  Industrialised nations contain 20 per cent of the global population, yet historically are responsible for roughly 75 per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This amounts to a moral debt to developing nations — a debt richer countries can start to pay off by embracing biotech solutions and eating fewer animal products. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Indonesia Study Disputes UN Data On Peat Fire Emissions

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[JAKARTA] A joint research of Indonesian and US scientists shows that peat fires in Central Kalimantan in Indonesia released less carbon dioxide than projected by UN climate experts but discharged more potentially hazardous gases. The research, led by scientists from the Bogor Agricultural University, Palangka Raya University, Central Kalimantan and Kapuas administrations, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, and the South Dakota State University and Montana University, was funded by NASA after massive peat fires struck the province in 2015.  “These gases are as important as methane and carbon dioxide... Continue reading..

Community Welfare, Environmental Integrity

Soil Erosion May Threaten Global Food Security

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Global soil erosion has reached levels that will endanger humanity’s ability to feed itself if nothing is done to lower it, a study warns. The review, published in Science last week (7 May), says soils are being lost faster than they are being naturally produced in many parts of the world. In addition, there is increased pressure on farmland from non-food uses, such as crops being grown for biofuels, and there may be future shortages of rock phosphate, which is used to make fertiliser, it says. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Seed Banks Overlook Wild Relatives of Food Crops

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Wild relatives of vital food crops are at risk of going extinct but remain underrepresented in gene banks, scientists warn. There is an urgent need to collect and conserve relatives of plants such as rice, wheat, maize and potato to preserve their genetic diversity, says a paper published this week (21 March) in Nature Plants. These plants may have useful traits that could be bred into future crops. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Coffee Next in Line as Biofuel Source

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Coffee grounds — currently wasted or used as garden compost — could become a cheap and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel and fuel pellets, says a study. Spent coffee grounds contain 11–20 per cent oil, depending on their type. "This is competitive with other major biodiesel feedstocks such as rapeseed oil (37–50 per cent), palm oil (20 per cent), and soybean oil (20 per cent)," say researchers writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Rotational harvest can save sea cucumber from extinction

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[KUALA LUMPUR] Rotational harvesting may be the key to saving sea cucumber populations from extinction. Commonly used in agriculture, crop rotations in the sea provide not only a sustainable method of supplying the sea cucumber trade but also maintain diversification of the species, says a study published in the PNAS journal (11 May) by the Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, the research agency of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia. Sea cucumbers fetch a high price in Asian markets as a medicinal and food source and are easy to harvest, causing its overfishing and creating an urgent need to implement a management system that is sustainable yet profitable. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Satellite imaging to monitor Asian rice paddies

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[COLOMBO] Sri Lankan agricultural experts plan to use new satellite imagery developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the European Space Agency (ESA) to forecast rice crops that are now seen to be increasingly vulnerable to changing climate. “With a capacity to monitor weather conditions and other factors like water availability, continuously, we can advise farmers on what to expect,” says Amitha Bentota, head of Sri Lanka’s Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI). “Presently, we lack round-the-clock capacity and our predictions reflect the lack of data. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

One crop, two ways, multiple benefits: Pulse crop adds long-term nitrogen, carbon to soil

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Figure 1 Right, faba bean was cut for 'green manure' just after the flowering stage. The remaining plants cover the soil, add nitrogen and other nutrients, and improve soil conditions. The plants on the left were allowed to grow to the dry bean stage, then harvested (Credit: N. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Study seeks nature's best biocatalysts for biofuel production

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The microbe Clostridium thermocellum (stained green), seen growing on a piece of poplar biomass, is among several microorganisms recently evaluated in a BioEnergy Science Center comparative study. Image Credit: Image by Jennifer Morrell-Falvey, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researchers at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center are looking beyond the usual suspects in the search for microbes that can efficiently break down inedible plant matter for conversion to biofuels. Continue reading..

Environmental Integrity

Symbiotic fungi inhabiting plant roots have major impact on atmospheric carbon, scientists say

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This is a photo of the fruiting body of an ectomycorrhizal fungus associated with the roots of a Hemlock tree in Harvard Forest. Credit: Colin Averill Microscopic fungi that live in plants' roots play a major role in the storage and release of carbon from the soil into the atmosphere, according to a University of Texas at Austin researcher and his colleagues at Boston University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The role of these fungi is currently unaccounted for in global climate models. Continue reading..