Archive | Farming & Ranching

Agriculture May Adapt to New Climate Conditions

The farming industry has a rough road ahead. With global warming expected to change precipitation rates and raise temperatures 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, growing conditions will look dramatically different when this century draws to a close.

But the challenges raised by climate change may not be insurmountable. According to a new study, wheat-growers in North America are no strangers to altering their growing practices according to new conditions.

Economists Alan Olmstead of the University of California, Davis and Paul Rhode of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor assessed the ways in which wheat crops in North America spread into new regions with temperature and precipitation differences. Their findings suggest that it will be possible for North American farmers to adapt to the new growing conditions brought on by climate change.

“As global change takes place, adaptation will help solve some of the problems that are created. Scientists and farmers are not going to roll over and not do anything,” Olmstead said, as quoted by Discovery News. “When we look at how great the adaptations were in the past, it gives us a sense of what might be achieved in the future.”

Analyzing data from a county-by-county record of wheat production from 1839 to 2007, Olmstead and Rhode found that conditions are already dramatically different than they were almost two centuries ago: In wheat-growing areas, the median annual temperature in 2007 was 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.6 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than in 1839, and average precipitation was halved.

Farmers adapted according to geographic changes as well.

“Wheat moved much farther west. It moved farther north and it moved into much harsher climates — drier and colder,” Rhode said.

As settlers relocated to new areas, they introduced new strains of the crop depending upon the conditions.

Baenziger believes that experts will have enough time to develop new varieties of crops as North America grows wetter and warmer. But he does fear that the new climate will bring more unpredictable extremes.

He also says other parts of the world may face bigger obstacles.

“I’m optimistic about wheat production in the U.S.,” he said, according to Discovery News. “I’m far less optimistic about what it means when it gets hotter and drier in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Food Industry, Global Warming0 Comments

Environmental Impact of Livestock Studied

STANFORD, Calif., March 22 (UPI) — A U.S.-led international research team says growing demand for meat is likely to have a major impact on human health and the environment in the next 50 years.

The team’s report — “Livestock in a Changing Landscape” — says global meat production has tripled during the past three decades and could double its present level by 2050, resulting in significant human health, environmental and economic consequences.

“This is the first time that we’ve looked at the social, economic, health and environmental impacts of livestock in an integrated way and presented solutions for reducing the detrimental effects of the industry and enhancing its positive attributes, said Wood Institute for the Environment Professor Harold Mooney, co-editor of the two-volume report.

Among their key findings, the researchers said:

– More than 1.7 billion animals are used in livestock production worldwide and occupy more than one-fourth of the Earth’s land.

– Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of total arable land.

– The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Other organizations involved in the report included the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Swiss College of Agriculture, Stanford University, the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya and the World Bank.

An overview of the report is available at

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Pesticides Linked to Developmental Delays

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) — Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos — banned for use in U.S. households — is associated with early childhood developmental delays, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the association between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical impairments in children in low-income areas of New York neighborhoods in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan.

Chlorpyrifos was commonly used in these neighborhoods until it was banned for household use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2001, but it is still used as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables.

After controlling for building dilapidation and community-level factors such as percentage of residents living in poverty, the research indicates that high chlorpyrifos exposure was associated with a 6.5-point decrease in the Psychomotor Development Index score and a 3.3-point decrease in the Mental Development Index score in 3-year-olds.

The findings are published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Children’s Health & Parenting, Farming & Ranching, Food Quality & Safety1 Comment

Chicken Lays 4.5-ounce Egg

IPSWICH, England, Feb. 24 (UPI) — The British owners of a young chicken said the hen’s fourth-ever egg weighs in at more than six times the average weight.

Mark Cornish, 36, of Ipswich, England, and partner Denise Bartram, 42, said Matilda the hen, one of four kept by the couple in their garden, laid a monster egg weighing 4.2 ounces and measuring more than 8 inches in circumference, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Cornish said hens typically lay eggs weighing about 0.7 ounces and measuring 5.5 inches in circumference.

“It’s only the fourth egg Matilda’s ever laid and her first in two weeks. She must have been saving up for it,” Cornish said. “My eyes almost popped out of my head when I first saw it. We might have to see about entering her in the record books.

“It’s just ridiculous to look at — anyone would think it was a goose egg, it’s that big,” he said. “My first thought was whether Matilda was OK after laying such a huge egg but she seems completely nonplussed by it all.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Dairyman: Demand for Raw Milk Will Grow

BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 12 (UPI) — A dairyman in Idaho is predicting that the demand for raw milk will continue to grow as more and more people discover it.

Mike Reid, who runs the second licensed raw dairy in Teton County, says once the consumer tastes raw milk for the first time “it’s impossible to go back” to the pasteurized variety, the Idaho Statesman reported Friday.

“People want to get back to more local, all-natural types of food,” says Reid.

Recently, a wellness products manager in Idaho nearly succeeded in preventing the Idaho Department of Agriculture from regulating raw milk dairies in the state.

Frank VanderSloot, the founder of Melaleuca Inc., fell just one vote short this week of getting the House Agriculture Committee to overturn a new rule aimed at bringing scores of small raw dairies under state regulations.

Twenty-three states currently ban the sale of raw milk while federal law prohibits its transport across state lines.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Chile Plans Deepwater Salmon Farms to Meet Global Demands

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan. 12 (UPI) — Chile will launch its first deepwater salmon farming project with a Norwegian loan to try and reverse the low yields on salmon amid constant global demand.

The offshore project is the brainchild of a Chilean business group that has been pledged $40 million by Norwegian banks, with the promise it can have access to more funds if the venture takes off.

Disease and economic downturn have hit Chile’s salmon industry hard over the past two years. Conventional fish farms have reported loss of stocks due to viral attacks and bacteria that decimate fish stocks in great numbers.

The new project will involve floating of large rafts at sea with significant numbers of Atlantic salmon positioned at great depths. Officials for the Chilean company, Acuicola Tripanko, said the whole complex could cover 1,300 hectares initially in the Punta Olleta region in southern Chile.

“This would be the first experience of its kind in the area, farming salmon in deep and oceanic waters with special technologies and conditions that might avoid disease outbreaks due to strong sea currents,” the said.

The copper mesh cages to be deployed could also help the fight against bacteria, industry analysts said.

Currently Acuicola Tripanko is awaiting the results of findings by the public-sector Environmental Impact Assessment System.

Acuicola Tripanko CEO Omar Guenul said much was at stake in the project, because it differed greatly from the conventional fish farms. He said the deep-sea construction was designed to address the sanitary issues that have blighted conventional fish farms.

The copper mesh cages are said to prevent exposure of salmon to viruses such as Infectious Salmon Anemia and decrease mortality rates in the farms, the Santiago Times reported.

Similar systems have been tried and tested elsewhere and currently exist in Alaska, Canada, Scotland and Norway, MercoPress reported.

Fish farming is expanding in Latin America, and according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization 45 percent of the fish consumed in the world comes from fish farms. That amounts to more than 50 million tons, but by 2030 the volume would need to double because of the decline in commercial fishing and the increasing demands of a growing population, FAO said.

Contrary to popular assumptions, fish farming in Latin America dates back to pre-modern times, and there is evidence that the Maya culture operated controlled fish production in natural pools.

Fish farming has grown dramatically in recent years in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, but in Argentina, weather conditions have prevented large-scale fish farming.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Fish0 Comments

Florida Citrus Growers Face Cold Weekend

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 9 (UPI) — Florida’s citrus growers said they were closely watching the weather as cold temperatures blew across the U.S. South Saturday.

Temperatures up to 20 degrees below normal have been felt in the region this week, a cold snap the likes of which is only seen once every few decades, and Florida’s citrus crops have sustained some losses so far, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Rusty Wiygul, director of grower affairs at Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest growers’ association, told the newspaper none of the losses have been “devastating” so far.

“We’re just sitting in our offices and constantly watching the weather,” he said. “It’d be nice if we could run up to the Florida state line and stop the cold, but we can’t. All we can really do is a pray a lot.” forecasters predicted widespread record cold and freezing temperatures would spread southward through the Florida Peninsula Saturday and Sunday nights.

The Web site said temperatures would drop below freezing Saturday night as far south as Tampa, Orlando and Melbourne, but warned the lowest temperatures of the season so far for much of the Florida loomed Sunday night.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Farming & Ranching, Food Industry, Food Quality & Safety0 Comments

40 Million Chinese Farmers Live in Poverty Making Less Than $175 per Year

BEIJING, Dec. 29 (UPI) — China has the world’s third largest economy but a report says 40 million of its farmers live in poverty, making less than $175 annually.

Fan Xiaojian, head of China’s national poverty and development office, told the Web portal the global financial crisis has hit the poor hard in China.

“China has invested 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) to reduce poverty this year, an increase of 3 billion yuan ($439 million) from last year, and the largest investment in poverty-relief in the last ten years,” he said, China Daily reported.

Fan, however, said the income of the most poverty-stricken counties in the country rose 9.6 percent in the first three quarters of this year.

The report said China, the third-largest economy after the United States and Japan, is the first developing country under the U.N. Millennium Development Goal to reduce the number of its people living in poverty by half.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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National Steak and Poultry Recalls 248,000 Pounds of Beef for E. Coli

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — National Steak and Poultry has recalled 248,000 pounds of beef products from six states because of a risk of E. coli, U.S. inspectors said.

The inspectors, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they linked meat from the plant to an outbreak of E. coli in the six states.

National Steak and Poultry, of Owasso, Okla., issued the recall in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Michigan, and Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a release.

The recall included products labeled National Steak and Poultry beef sirloin steak, boneless beef tips, boneless beef sirloin steak, savory sirloin tips, bacon wrapped beef filet, select beef shoulder, marinated tender medallions, Philly steak and boneless beef trimmings.

Each package contained a label marked “EST. 6010T” inside the USDA mark of inspection and packaging dates of Oct. 12-14 or Oct. 21.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Food & Nutrition, Food Consumption, Food Industry, Food Quality & Safety, Human Health & Wellness, Packaging0 Comments

Refurbished Computers Aid Kenyan Farmers with Weather Conditions

KATUMANI, Kenya, Dec. 26 (UPI) — Refurbished computers are changing the fortunes of farmers in central Kenya by accurately and instantly predicting the weather, officials said.

The digital age arrived two years ago and since then has often meant the difference between a good crop and no crop at all, The Independent reported Saturday.

“It’s helping them to decide which crops to plant, which fertilizer to use and when to plant,” Jackson Mwangangi, who runs the local weather station near Katumani, told the British newspaper.

Local farmers had no quick and accurate access to weather information until the British charity Computer Aid equipped Jackson’s station with refurbished computers and taught him how to use them.

Now forecasts are available to anyone with an Internet connection or phone, and they’re also circulated via a motorcycle rider who carries the forecasts to hundreds of small farmers in the region.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Electronics, Farming & Ranching, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

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