Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sustainable strawberries and coffee

I have more on sustainable farming practices than I included in How farmers can improve the environment.  From Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (100% of California in drought) on Daily Kos come these two articles.

First, North Carolina State University presents Strawberry Fields Forever.
North Carolina is the nation’s No. 3 strawberry producer, but many of the state’s berries grow on small plots lacking the acreage to carry out sustainable growing practices like crop rotation. That, combined with constant concerns about soil pathogens and reliance on chemicals to rid plants of ubiquitous pests like spider mites, puts immense pressure on these farms’ long-term health.

Can North Carolina withstand this pressure and keep its top-three status behind fruit and veggie behemoths California and Florida, the top two U.S. strawberry producers?

NC State crop science Ph.D. student Amanda McWhirt is working with fellow university agroecologists, horticulture scientists and entomologists on a National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative research project to implement sustainable soil methods on strawberry farms – methods that won’t blow a hole in farmers’ budgets or overcomplicate their lives.
Next, the University of Texas reports Shade Grown Coffee Shrinking as a Proportion of Global Coffee Production.
AUSTIN, Texas —The proportion of land used to cultivate shade grown coffee, relative to the total land area of coffee cultivation, has fallen by nearly 20 percent globally since 1996, according to a new study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and five other institutions.

The study's authors say the global shift toward a more intensive style of coffee farming is probably having a negative effect on the environment, communities and individual farmers.

"The paradox is that there is greater public interest than ever in environmentally friendly coffee, but where coffee production is expanding across the globe, it tends to be very intensive," says Shalene Jha, assistant professor in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences and lead author of the study published April 16 in the journal BioScience.
Here's to more of our food and drink being grown sustainably.

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