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Châtenay-Malabry (FR - 92290), September 27, 2021

EFITA newsletter / 1005 - European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment


Do not miss the Virus Jokes in English and French

Blagues de janvier – février 2021
Coronavirus 1 
Coronavirus 3
Ant joke

Virus 1
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Virus 5 
Histoires drôles de l'oncle Paul (Jamet)
Dernières histoires de Michel Gil-Antoli
Et encore... 
Et celles de mars-avril 2021
Special "Biblical studies" (!!!)
Celles de juillet 2021 en français et en anglais, dont 17 sur le virus en bas de page)
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Virus et autres sujets
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Histoires drôles de Georges Larroque
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Et encore
Tout sur le vaccin
Celles de mail 2021
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Agronomy Statistics With A Smile

Sept 30, 2021 - 4 PM Central Europe - 11 AM Central America - Webinar
A few weeks ago, a strawberry breeder rang us about its results. He was puzzeled to explain heterogeneities. We called statistics to the rescue, with success !

It gave us the idea to share with you useful statistical methods and tools: Our colleague Clément Bouckaert, agronomist and IT expert, will tell you how to improve your analysis with simplicity and efficiency:
 - Parental Choice with GCA/SCA
 - Experimental designs
 - ANOVA and GxE Matrix
 - Interactive graphics to gain time
Stay up-to-dated with agronomy statistics and feel free to ask any questions to Clément in the chat, he will reply at the end of the webinar.
See doriane.com


Excess fertilizer use: Which countries cause environmental damage by overapplying fertilizers?

Fertilizers have transformed the way the world produces food. They have not only brought large benefits for food security, but they also bring environmental benefits through higher yields (and therefore less land use).

But, there can be a downside when we overapply fertilizers. No matter whether they are natural fertilizers like manure or synthetic ones, excess nutrients are washed off and pollute the natural environment.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two main fertilizers that farmers add to their fields. In this article we present research showing that nearly two-thirds of the nitrogen we use on our crops becomes a pollutant, and more than half of the phosphorus we use does.



Human genome sequencing: The Fastest Learning Curve in History? By Gale Pooley

In 2003, scientists sequenced a human genome for the first time. It cost them about one billion dollars.

Today, it costs $1000 to sequence a human genome, and a group of Chinese entrepreneurs at the BGI hope to get the price down to just $100.

If they succeed, the cost of DNA sequencing may amount to the fastest price decline in history.



From futurefarming.com

>> Soil compaction 101: How does soil compaction happen, what does it do, and what prevention strategies and tools are available to farmers to dampen the effect of soil compaction?

>> Farm report: Technology and healthy soil boost yields at Redbank Farm

>> Tillage: The great potential of spot specific tillage

>> Interview:10 tips to improve soil health

>> Field robots: Are light autonomous robots the answer to soil compaction?

>> Planting: Measuring soil compaction at planting

>> Video: New method for aphid detection and monitoring
Last year, Huetink Flower Bulbs in the Netherlands experimented with an automated aphid detection system in which pictures of sticky traps can be viewed and assessed automatically and from a distance.

>> Field robots: 10 driverless GUSS orchard sprayers trialed in Australia
Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) is trialing 10 driverless GUSS orchard sprayers in its almond orchards near Wemen in northwest Victoria, Australia. Read more

>> Sustainability: Agri-PV system for apples tested in Germany
Can Agri-PV systems protect plants and fruit from harmful environmental influences such as hail, heavy rain, sunburn, frost or extreme temperatures?

>> Create new solutions with AI
IDS Imaging Development Systems now offers a special promotion for anyone who wants to test the potential of smart cameras for their applications. IDS NXT ocean requires no prior knowledge of Deep Learning or camera programming. The kit is now temporarily available for only 999 Euro.

>> 5G: CNH Industrial joins 5G Open Innovation Lab
CNHI to work with 5G Open Innovation Lab on transformative 5G technologies in the agricultural space.

>> Robotics: Robot cuts leaf in cucumber
The VDL Group and Bosman Van Zaal (Netherlands) are joining forces for the market introduction of the CropTeq leaf-cutting robot.

>> Financing: USDA to provide loans for precision agriculture technology
The Precision Agriculture Loan (PAL) Act. is to provide loan financing to U.S. farmers interested in purchasing precision agriculture equipment.

>> Carbon markets: Cargill to connect farmers to carbon marketplace
Cargill RegenConnect is a new regenerative agriculture program that pays U.S. farmers for improved soil health and positive environmental outcomes.
See futurefarming.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: Jeune fille aux oies, 1881, par William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

1
 


Agritechnica: DLG AgrifutureLab

The start-up area at AGRITECHNICA is the international venue for, innovative start-ups in the agricultural engineering sector. Take a look at DLG-Connect to discover what the industry is discussing and developing.
See agritechnica.com


Leaps by Bayer leads EarthOptics’ $10.3m Series A for carbon mapping, AFN, by Lauren Manning
…/…
EarthOptics’ goal is to transform soil measurement and analysis approaches to give farmers the most accurate view of their soil’s health, compaction, and carbon content.

Although the technology is partly intended to support the burgeoning carbon credit market, farmers can also harness its insights to improve their production practices, reduce input use, and boost yields.

“We think we’re a little bit different because we’re taking a fairly pragmatic approach around measurements,” Lars Dyrud, CEO at EarthOptics, tells AFN. “We are very interested in soil and think it is the solution to a much more sustainable future for all of us – not just with food, but with carbon as well. The key to unlocking all those future promises is good measurements.”
…/…
See agfundernews.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: Jeune fille allant à la source, 1885, par William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

2
 


Archives of our newsletters in French and English
Voir Afia
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Gates Foundation leads $707m investment in Dutch e-grocer Picnic, AFN, by Jack Ellis

- Amsterdam-based e-grocery platform Picnic has raised €600 million ($707 million) in Series D funding.
- The round was led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, an investment vehicle affiliated with the nonprofit organization set up by the Microsoft co-founder and his ex-wife. Several of Picnic’s existing investors also participated.
- Picnic will use the funds to hire tech talent, build automated fulfillment centers, grow its electric vehicle fleet, and expand its operations across Europe, with an initial focus on France and Germany.
See agfundernews.com


Intelinair closes $20m Series B to rapidly scale digital agronomy product, expand into carbon, AFN, by Louisa Burwood-Taylor
…/…
Intelinair’s main product is AGMRI, an agronomic insights platform using a variety of datasets but centered on imagery captured from airplanes, which Intelinair arranges for clients. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, AGMRI promises to “find issues before they become problems” by giving farmers alerts throughout the growing season such as crop emergence issues that may require replanting, the identification of disease-resistant weeds or nutrient-deficient crops, and drydown rates that may impact harvest timing. The tool can also help farmers respond to those issues by sending detailed instructions to machinery to perform such as a precise herbicide prescription to the sprayer to respond to disease outbreaks.

Intelinair plans to use part of the proceeds to continue to expand its team; it’s added six experienced leaders to the team in the past six months and plans to add at least another three before the end of the year, according to a press release. It is also using the proceeds to further develop its capabilities including various partnerships that will increase the resolution of the aerial imagery it ingests.
…/…
See agfundernews.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: Les prunes, 1896, par William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

3  


Heineken explores sustainable barley cultivation in new trial, AFN, by Lauren Manning

- Heineken UK, Muntons Malt, and Future Food Solutions are launching a new trial with barley farmers to explore how beer’s primary ingredient can be grown in a more sustainable way with an eye towards reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions.
- Starting in late 2021, 10 farmers will cultivate roughly 7,000 acres of winter and spring barley varieties, yielding up to 25,000 tonnes of grain – enough to brew almost 300 million pints of beer.
- The effort is part of Heineken’s goal to reduce its ag-related emissions by 33% by 2030 and achieve a carbon-neutral value chain by 2040.
…/…
See agfundernews.com


Autonomous farming startup Blue White Robotics raises $37m Series B
.../...
Blue White Robotics’ self-described “robotics as a service” platform combines robotic tractors with management software so that one human can control a fleet of autonomous vehicles to fulfill a number of different farming tasks: spraying, harvesting, disking, and seeding, to name a few.

The company says its platform can address key labor and food security issues by improving productivity and worker safety while also collecting more data for precise insights that can increase yields and reduce the amount of inputs needed for crops.
.../...
See agfundernews.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: La soif, 1886, par William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

4  


Blue White Robotics

Our agile algorithms, sensor suite, and cutting-edge AI combine to stand up to real world applications.
Regardless of conditions, our platform continues to deliver the most Holistic Solution.
See bluewhiterobotics.com


Satellite data: Airbus and Agrimetrics partner in satellite-based crop data

Crop Analytics, a crop and field analytics package from Airbus, is available now in the UK via Agrimetrics Agrifood Data Marketplace.

Crop Analytics contains 15 attributes, including: Leaf Area Index (LAI), Leaf Water Content, Leaf Chlorophyll Content, fCover (used for identifying OSR), Brown Vegetation Cover, NDVI, and Soil Water Saturation. These data can be used to generate a range of actionable insights, from anomaly detection and yield prediction to water stress and field benchmarking.
Airbus Crop Analytics uses algorithms to derive 15 crop and field properties from satellite data. Outputs are clipped to fields, de-clouded, and updated every few days. Agrimetrics then pre-links Crop Analytics to billions of additional agricultural and climate data points.
See futurefarming.com




AIRBUS: Satellite imagery and Crop Analytics for more productive and sustainable agriculture
See intelligence-airbusds.com


BASF Digital Farming and VanderSat first to offer access to scalable, daily biomass images unimpeded by cloud cover

- Biomass image service to be integrated with xarvio™ FIELD MANAGER and available in North America by March 2021
- Farmers gain daily access to reliable, highly accurate biomass images derived from satellites
- Consistent crop growth monitoring enhances agronomic decision making
See basf.com


CoBank Report Asserts Precision Services are Essential to Future of U.S. Ag Retail

Ag retailers’ path forward may be to expand their precision service offerings and capture more income from consultative service, according to a new CoBank report.
See precisionag.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: October by Carl Larsson, 1882)

5  


Advanced Farm to Accelerate Robotic Harvesting Technology After $25 Million Funding Round

The funding will allow Advanced Farm to scale its operations and adapt its harvesting technology to in-orchard problems for apple growers. After
See precisionag.com


Generate Transparency and Brand Trust with Digital Tools

Your business can walk out the door with your employees when they leave for a new job if your digital tools can’t bridge the gap. Digital platforms and applications can be powerful tools for customer retention and sales when built to suit.
See precisionag.com


CNH Industrial Joins 5G Open Innovation Lab

CNH Industrial N.V. has announced that it has joined the 5G Open Innovation Lab (“5GOILab”), a global applied innovation ecosystem for corporations, academia and government institutions working on developing 5G technologies, as corporate partner.
See precisionag.com


Cargill Introduces New Revenue Stream for Farmers As Part of 10 Million Acre Regenerative Agriculture Commitment
…/…
Cargill RegenConnect links farmers to the emerging carbon marketplace and helps scale the voluntary adoption of regenerative agriculture practices

One year ago, Cargill made a commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices across 10 million acres of land in North America by 2030, recognizing that it not only improves soil health but can also open new revenue streams for farmers. To that end, Cargill has been enrolling farmers in Cargill RegenConnect, a new regenerative agriculture program that pays farmers for improved soil health and positive environmental outcomes, including payment per metric ton of carbon sequestered. The new program connects farmers to the growing carbon marketplace and will help scale the voluntary adoption of regenerative agriculture practices.
…/…
See precisionag.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory (?????): The Unwilling Sleigh Dog, by Johan Mari Henri ten Kate (1831 – 1910, Dutch)

6  


Even With Climate Change, the World Isn’t Doomed, By Bjorn Lomborg

Humanity has overcome far greater problems before and can do so again.
See wsj.com (only for subscribers)

0  


UN Summit offers chance to influence global food system, by Joan Conrow, September 17, 2021

Though the United Nations billed its Sept. 23 Food Systems Summit as an opportunity for “everyone to carve a path to a world where good food for all is a reality,” it appears that public participation will be less robust than initially anticipated due to the forum’s virtual format.

Still, many are looking to the event as the best opportunity in years to influence the structure of the world’s food system as it struggles to address hunger, malnutrition and food waste in the face of climate change, a global pandemic and a steadily growing population.

“As a people’s summit and a solutions summit, it has recognized that everyone, everywhere must take action and work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes, and thinks about food,” states the Summit website.

The Alliance for Science and others are pushing to ensure that genome editing and other innovative plant breeding technologies are included among the tools that deliver solutions to agriculture’s most pressing problems, especially in Africa.
.../...
See allianceforscience.cornell.edu

0  


Startup GreenLight is mass-producing RNA to fight crop pests, Bloomberg, by Elizabeth Elkin

Biotechnology startup GreenLight Biosciences Inc. is going to make mass quantities of RNA -- a component of cells used in Covid-19 vaccines -- to combat crop pests.

GreenLight has opened a facility in Rochester, New York that will manufacture enzymes and RNA for products targeting pests that do everything from destroy potato crops to hurt honeybees. The company cites several environmentally friendly benefits to traditional pesticides. RNA degrades quickly in the environment, and the technology doesn’t impact anything but the pests.
See bloomberg.com


Stopping the Colorado Potato Beetle, by GreenLight technology

Two years of successful trials have proven the performance of GreenLight technology. We are actively developing a leading pipeline of products to address even more pest and disease problems facing farmers.
See greenlightbiosciences.com


The Week in Agrifoodtech: Cargill, Heineken & Nestlé unveil regenerative ag programs, by Lauren Manning & Jack Ellis

In the past seven days, a trio of major agrifood corporates doubled-down on sustainability by announcing new regenerative ag schemes.

Meanwhile, Ford and Walmart said they are partnering on autonomous food delivery tech; and Indigo made the first payouts to farmers participating in its carbon sequestration program.
See agfundernews.com


Climate protection: Only long-term CO2 fixation counts

The drought of the century in 2018, the debate about the "grandchild suitability" of our economic and social model, new climate protection targets that are mandatory for agriculture: Agriculture is facing major challenges and changes in the wake of climate change.
.../...
Sometimes there are misunderstandings. For example, carbon storage in harvested products such as wheat is not applied climate protection, because when the wheat is used as food or feed, the sequestered carbon is released again. These short-term fluxes of the biological carbon cycle cancel each other out within a year and are therefore climate neutral. Relevant for climate protection, on the other hand, are the changes in the long-term carbon stores in humus and emission reductions, e.g. through the replacement of fossil fuels with bioenergy. Farmers and their associations would be well advised not to advertise the short-term carbon sequestration in crops as a supposed climate protection benefit.
See dlg.org


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory (?????): Meditation by James (Jean-Baptiste) Bertrand (1823 – 1887, French)

7  


Data Snapshot: 2021 started out as year of the ag-SPAC. How’s that going? By Jack Ellis

.../...
The shell entity is called a ‘special purpose acquisition company’ (hence, SPAC) and has no operations or assets, but is intentionally designed to raise money through its own IPO with a view to acquiring or merging with a privately held company.

One potential advantage for the private company that’s SPACcing is that it can maintain greater control over the pricing of its stock compared to a traditional IPO. That’s because the company only has to agree a price with a single investor — the SPAC that it’s merging with — rather than myriad prospective buyers, as is the case in a traditional IPO. A SPAC deal also allows the company to skip the investor roadshow process that typically takes place in the weeks leading up to the IPO, streamlining the overall timeline.
.../...
See agfundernews.com


‘Crowdfarming’ platform Steward raises $8.8m in Series A round
…/…
Launched in 2017, Steward — which describes itself as “the world’s first crowdfarming platform” — partners with sustainable farming enterprises and other food producers to help them access working capital for their businesses. To date, it has provided over $7 million in farm loans from 1,200 lenders across 50 agricultural projects.

The Portland, Oregon-based startup will use the funding to increase its employee roster and customer support capacities while also improving its technology and marketing.

With Covid-19 highlighting weaknesses in the food supply chain, many consumers have turned to local farmers to stock their pantries. Steward has seen a major uptick in activity on its platform since the pandemic began in early 2020. That increased buzz has mainly involved funding to assist small-scale farmers in adopting of direct-to-consumer sales channels so they can meet rising demand for locally-produced food.

Part of Steward’s mission is to help farmers, who sometimes lack business knowhow — or a desire to spend their days pouring over spreadsheets — make smart financial decisions about their operations. Moreover, traditional lenders often fail to see the promise of funding smaller diversified farming operations; while many government programs tend to favor large-scale commodity agriculture, according to Steward.

Farmers can apply for funding on Steward’s website and get connected with one of the company’s team – many of whom have backgrounds in farming.

The startup’s involvement usually starts with financial assistance – whether it’s financing to purchase farmland or a loan to inject some much-needed operating capital into the business.
…/…
See agfundernews.com


Meet 50 Latinas who are innovating to sustainably, and deliciously, feed the world, Forbes, by Shayna Harris (feat. Sofia Elizondo of Brightseed)

The Latino population is the fastest growing in the United States, representing 51% of population growth according to the 2020 census. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the country. Their buying power is growing 70% faster than non-Latinos, at just over $1.9TN in 2021. If U.S. based Latinos represented a country, they would have the 7th largest GDP in the world.

Of this group, Latina founders are often overlooked, receiving 0.04% of venture funding while comprising 9% of the U.S. population. The statistics are so familiar by now that they are easy to glaze over, but this gap is critical to address if we are to realize the range of innovations required for our changing world. Diverse perspectives breed strong businesses and better returns, a topic that is well documented by Harvard, McKinsey, and Kauffman.

 According to Kayla Castañeda, the founder of the beverage company Agua Bonita, “Being a Latina-led business means having both the privilege and responsibility of letting our culture guide the way we conduct business — from our sourcing practices, to our product, to our partners. Our life experiences are represented by our business.”

 Here is a roundup of 50 Latina-founded companies that are innovating to sustainably — and deliciously — feed the world. From using microalgae to create clean protein, to developing snacks made from the resistant nopal cactus and upcycled fruits, they lead companies in CPG, agriculture, supply chain, technology, and food media.
See forbes.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: Le bucheron de P. Richer (1849-1933)


8  


Excess fertilizer use: Which countries cause environmental damage by overapplying fertilizers?

Fertilizers have transformed the way the world produces food. They have not only brought large benefits for food security, but they also bring environmental benefits through higher yields (and therefore less land use).

But, there can be a downside when we overapply fertilizers. No matter whether they are natural fertilizers like manure or synthetic ones, excess nutrients are washed off and pollute the natural environment.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two main fertilizers that farmers add to their fields. In this article we present research showing that nearly two-thirds of the nitrogen we use on our crops becomes a pollutant, and more than half of the phosphorus we use does.

 


World Wildlife Fund report misses the point while bashing farmers, by By Amanda Zaluckyj, The Farmer’s Daughter USA

My mentor at work often tells me that “everything runs downhill.” She’s usually referencing old files with stale claims, non-billable work, and unpleasant assignments. And she’s usually joking. The buck is supposed to stop at the top, right?

But I increasingly feel like this mantra is actually true when it comes to agriculture. Farmers are always at fault. And if we could only get them to stop thinking solely about profits, maybe we could solve the world’s biggest problems.

The World Wildlife Fund’s 2021 Plowprint Report demonstrates the point. According to their data, an additional 2.6 million acres of intact grasslands were converted for cultivation in 2019. WWF says farmers plowed that ground to grow wheat, corn, and soybeans. WWF’s news release disparages “destructive” agricultural practices. It suggests creating legislation that would protect grasslands the same way we currently protect wetlands, reduce the availability of crop insurance for grasslands, and put pressure on corporations to protect grasslands through their supply chains.

But land use is a complicated topic, and it’s hard to make such sweeping generalizations. Are farmers cultivating wide swaths of grasslands just because they’re greedy and have no regard for the environment? Not likely. So while I’m not saying WWF’s numbers are wrong, I’m saying there may be more to the story.

According to American Farmland Trust, the U.S. loses 2,000 acres of farmland to development every single day. If you need some perspective, my family farms just over 2,000 acres. That’s how much we’re losing. Every. Single. Day.

So to really analyze WWF’s claims — and consider whether their proposed solutions will work — we need to get a better sense of what’s actually happening. Was this land previously cultivated and then taken out of rotation for conservation purposes? Maybe the farmers plowing up new grasslands had to because they lost other land to urban development. Imagine if those farmers had no other choice; cultivate grasslands or go bankrupt. The point is, we don’t really know. So making broad, generalized statements doesn’t actually help.

Yet our society seems to always blame farmers and tap agriculture to change. Take climate change. We’re told climate change is an existential threat. We know greenhouse-gas emissions come mostly — 54 percent — from transportation and electricity. So why is all the focus on changing agriculture, which produces only 10 percent? According to the popular narrative, we’re supposed to farm differently, give up meat and dairy, and focus on sequestering carbon.

The answer to me seems really obvious: because it’s easy. Unlike most modern-day industries, farming seems super simple. You just take a seed, bury it in dirt, add some water, and before long you have a crop. Contrast that with the intricacies of building a smartphone app, designing a nuclear power plant, or taking people into outer space. That stuff is hard in comparison.

It’s also an easy way for ordinary folks to participate. If we’re told that regenerative agriculture is going to save the world, we can simply choose food with that label. All of sudden we’re transformed from a drag on the environment to an environmental justice warrior! So easy conclusions, devastating statistics, and passive action are the way to go.

By the way, if you’re wondering, WWF also weighs in on other agriculture issues that have a strange relationship to this latest report. It doesn’t support or endorse the use of GMO, even though the adoption of GMOs reduces carbon emissions. And it encourages people to switch to a vegan diet to reduce each person’s carbon footprint (even though that swap would make minimal difference). Again, it’s funny how WWF says it cares about the environment and climate change, but it’s position on modern agriculture seems to suggest the complete opposite.

Farmers are willing and able to meet the challenges of this age. In fact, the entire industry has become incredibly more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly over the last half century or so. But farmers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of saving the world, while also being blamed for its problems.
See agdaily.com

 
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GMO eggplant is documented win for resource-poor farmers - Sep. 20, 2021 - By Joan Conrow

Insect-resistant brinjal, or eggplant, is arguably the most impactful project to bring agricultural biotechnology to resource-poor farmers.
See allianceforscience.cornell.edu


The Green Revolution’s ripple effect on other crops, by Jack Dewitt, August 19, 2021

A research paper in the Journal of Political Economy, titled Two blades of Grass: The Impact of the Green Revolution, said, “We find that HYVs (high yield varieties) increased yields by 44 percent between 1965 and 2010, with further gains coming from reallocation of inputs. Higher yields increased income and reduced population growth. A 10-year delay of the Green Revolution would in 2010 have cost 17 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) per capita and added 223 million people to the developing-world population.”

In conclusion, I quote again from Charles Mann: “Even though the continent’s population soared, Asians had an average 30 percent more calories in their diet. Millions upon millions of families had more food, better clothing, money for school. Seoul and Shanghai, Jaipur and Jakarta: shining skyscrapers, pricy hotels, traffic-choked streets ablaze with neon — all built atop a foundation of laboratory-bred rice” (and wheat.)
See agdaily.com


Can we reduce fertilizer use without sacrificing food production?

Fertilizers can increase crop yields. This not only offers important benefits for farmer incomes and food security, but also produces environmental benefits by reducing our demands for farmland. Many countries would benefit from using more fertilizer.

But when they’re overapplied, they can also become an environmental pollutant. We might assume that there is nothing we can do: that to achieve higher yields we need more inputs and therefore necessarily cause more pollution.

In this article we explain that this is not necessarily the case: Farmers in many countries can reduce fertilizer use without sacrificing food production.

Countries generate vastly different amounts of pollution through their agricultural practices. Some countries produce almost none, while others produce hundreds of kilograms per hectare of cropland.

See ourworldindata.org  


World Wildlife Fund report misses the point while bashing farmers, by By Amanda Zaluckyj, The Farmer’s Daughter USA

My mentor at work often tells me that “everything runs downhill.” She’s usually referencing old files with stale claims, non-billable work, and unpleasant assignments. And she’s usually joking. The buck is supposed to stop at the top, right?

But I increasingly feel like this mantra is actually true when it comes to agriculture. Farmers are always at fault. And if we could only get them to stop thinking solely about profits, maybe we could solve the world’s biggest problems.

The World Wildlife Fund’s 2021 Plowprint Report demonstrates the point. According to their data, an additional 2.6 million acres of intact grasslands were converted for cultivation in 2019. WWF says farmers plowed that ground to grow wheat, corn, and soybeans. WWF’s news release disparages “destructive” agricultural practices. It suggests creating legislation that would protect grasslands the same way we currently protect wetlands, reduce the availability of crop insurance for grasslands, and put pressure on corporations to protect grasslands through their supply chains.

But land use is a complicated topic, and it’s hard to make such sweeping generalizations. Are farmers cultivating wide swaths of grasslands just because they’re greedy and have no regard for the environment? Not likely. So while I’m not saying WWF’s numbers are wrong, I’m saying there may be more to the story.

According to American Farmland Trust, the U.S. loses 2,000 acres of farmland to development every single day. If you need some perspective, my family farms just over 2,000 acres. That’s how much we’re losing. Every. Single. Day.

So to really analyze WWF’s claims — and consider whether their proposed solutions will work — we need to get a better sense of what’s actually happening. Was this land previously cultivated and then taken out of rotation for conservation purposes? Maybe the farmers plowing up new grasslands had to because they lost other land to urban development. Imagine if those farmers had no other choice; cultivate grasslands or go bankrupt. The point is, we don’t really know. So making broad, generalized statements doesn’t actually help.

Yet our society seems to always blame farmers and tap agriculture to change. Take climate change. We’re told climate change is an existential threat. We know greenhouse-gas emissions come mostly — 54 percent — from transportation and electricity. So why is all the focus on changing agriculture, which produces only 10 percent? According to the popular narrative, we’re supposed to farm differently, give up meat and dairy, and focus on sequestering carbon.

The answer to me seems really obvious: because it’s easy. Unlike most modern-day industries, farming seems super simple. You just take a seed, bury it in dirt, add some water, and before long you have a crop. Contrast that with the intricacies of building a smartphone app, designing a nuclear power plant, or taking people into outer space. That stuff is hard in comparison.

It’s also an easy way for ordinary folks to participate. If we’re told that regenerative agriculture is going to save the world, we can simply choose food with that label. All of sudden we’re transformed from a drag on the environment to an environmental justice warrior! So easy conclusions, devastating statistics, and passive action are the way to go.

By the way, if you’re wondering, WWF also weighs in on other agriculture issues that have a strange relationship to this latest report. It doesn’t support or endorse the use of GMO, even though the adoption of GMOs reduces carbon emissions. And it encourages people to switch to a vegan diet to reduce each person’s carbon footprint (even though that swap would make minimal difference). Again, it’s funny how WWF says it cares about the environment and climate change, but it’s position on modern agriculture seems to suggest the complete opposite.

Farmers are willing and able to meet the challenges of this age. In fact, the entire industry has become incredibly more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly over the last half century or so. But farmers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of saving the world, while also being blamed for its problems.
See agdaily.com


Physicists Just Made a Major Breakthrough in Fusion Reactor Development

And it could create plasma twice as hot as the sun.
See interestingengineering.com


Get Ready for the Nuclear Fusion Revolution

It’s been hyped for decades. But scientific progress — and commercial competition — may soon produce a truly groundbreaking clean-energy technology.

Unlike the cup of Arthurian legend, however, this one is subject to some worldly constraints.

One is technological. It’s no exaggeration to say that building a workable fusion reactor is one of the most complex challenges ever undertaken. Immense technical problems still need solving. Yet federal funding for domestic fusion research has declined by 40% in real terms over the past four decades. An influx in last year’s spending bill should help, but a longer-term commitment is needed to overcome science and engineering hurdles, build a skilled workforce, and lure more talented researchers to U.S. labs.

Money presents a second challenge. Realistically, no company is going to build a fusion reactor without huge new investments. As two recent reports from advisory bodies have suggested, Congress could help by aiming to produce a pilot plant within two decades. With safeguards in place, public-private partnerships with fusion companies could help accelerate this process, control costs and mitigate risks. NASA’s successful collaboration with SpaceX — which hugely reduced the cost of spaceflight in less than a decade — offers a useful model.
See bloomberg.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: Le paysan de Aimé-Jules Dalou (1838-1902), sculpture already mentioned but here so that you go to the national museum of porcelain Adrien Dubouché in Limoges, to admire its replica in "grès émaillé", produced by the National Manufacture of Sèvres

9  


"Nearly 8 out of 10 of young Britons blame capitalism for the housing crisis"

Capitalism is an effective economic system, but it's quite unintuitive. In that regard it's akin to scientific theories which conflict with folk physics, folk biology, etc.

But most important, we can correct its side-effects. (GW)

>>> Eat the rich! Why millennials and generation Z have turned their backs on capitalism, by Owen Jones (20 Sep 2021)

Nearly eight out of 10 of young Britons blame capitalism for the housing crisis and two-thirds want to live under a socialist economic system. How did that happen?
See theguardian.com


Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory: Ploughing at Montenaken by Léon Engelen (BE)

10  


Antonio Muñoz Molina: “Hay que tener mucho cuidado con lamentar la pérdida de virtudes que existieron en el pasado”

Se publica ‘Volver a dónde’, libro con el que el escritor desmenuza la realidad pandémica de nuestro tiempo y la suya propia, hecha de recuerdos de un niño de familia campesina
.../...
P. El tiempo es uno de los protagonistas del libro.
R. Porque da perspectiva. Y es una lección de humildad. Esto es una cosa que es temporal. Cuando lees esas idioteces de los tipos de Amazon o Google que quieren vivir 150 años. Muérete cuando toque, hombre. Qué pasa, ¿que no puedes ser como los demás? Tienes que ir al espacio, tienes que vivir 500 años... Deja sitio a otros, acepta tu mortalidad. Hay que irse.
Ver elpais.com


Las bacterias resisten a los antibióticos, pero los virus y las vacunas podrían ayudar

Los científicos están recurriendo a los depredadores naturales de las bacterias para tratar las infecciones, en un problema que se ha convertido en unos de los grandes desafíos de la medicina moderna
Ver elpais.com


Una empresa española diseña una rompedora vacuna para la pandemia que viene

Vaxdyn supera las fases preclínicas de su formulación contra las bacterias resistentes a los antibióticos y espera empezar los ensayos con humanos en dos años.
…/…
Vaxdyn ha conseguido desarrollar y patentar en este tiempo una tecnología que ha sido eficaz ante un desafío mucho más complejo que el que generan los virus. Según aclara Infante, “las vacunas contra bacterias son más complicadas de hacer que contra virus porque las primeras son organismos muchos más complejos, capaces de adaptarse mejor al ambiente y evadir la inmunidad”. Y añade: “Además, el objetivo es más ambicioso: crear una vacuna, un solo producto, que sea capaz de neutralizar no solo una bacteria sino varias, a todas las variantes circulantes por el mundo de cada especie. Eso no es sencillo. Hay vacunas en el mercado contra el neumococo, por ejemplo, pero contra las más preocupantes, las que han desarrollado resistencia contra todos los antibióticos conocidos no había ninguna”.

La patente de Vaxdyn crea inmunidad contra las proteínas de la membrana externa de la bacteria. Esta innovación es clave, según explica Infante: “Si se logra crear inmunidad contra esas proteínas va a ser muy difícil que las bacterias escapen porque esas proteínas no pueden cambiar mucho, ya que, si lo hacen, pierden su funcionalidad. Nuestra tecnología permite eso. Otras vacunas actúan contra los azúcares, los polisacáridos, de la envoltura las bacterias. Pero las bacterias han aprendido a modificarlo y, gracias a eso, escapan de la inmunidad”.
Ver elpais.com

 


Famous sentences

1. People are making end of the world jokes like there's no tomorrow.

2. Whatever you do, always give 100%--unless you're donating blood.

3. What do you call a sleepwalking nun? A roamin’ Catholic.

4. What did Snow White say when she came out of the photo booth? Someday my prints will come.

5. A girl said she recognized me from her vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

6. Dad, are we pyromaniacs? Yes, we arson.


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