Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water pollution

Photo: muffinn, Hallow – muck spreading, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic.
29 March 2017

This review assesses the performance of organic cropping systems as an approach to sustainable agriculture, and seeks to identify the contextual considerations (such as type of cropping system) that may affect this performance. The scope of the review is constrained to the level of the farming system (i.e. excludes considerations of other components of the food system, such as packaging or transport). In order to provide an unbiased assessment of organic farming as a means of sustainable agriculture, rather than approaching the question from the usual “What does organic farming do well/badly?” angle, the authors ask “What constitutes successful sustainable agriculture?” then measure organic farming against this yardstick.

Photo credit: Chris Booth, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 November 2016

The World Bank has released a short working paper arguing that the expansion of seaweed farming in tropical developing countries could have large positive impacts on local poverty, ecosystem management and climate change mitigation. The report goes through different benefits and uses of seaweed production and briefly discusses current and potential markets for the crop.

Photo: Natural resources conservation service (Flickr, creative commons 2.0)
9 June 2016

This paper looks at how soil can help contribute to climate mitigation.  It argues that by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that improve the soil-nitrogen cycle (tighter cycle with less leakage), it is possible to enhance soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution.

20 April 2016

This paper looks at China’s National Forest Conservation Program (NFCP) and concludes that overall, it has been successful in reforesting the country. Prior to this study, scientists did not have proof of China’s claims of forest growth and the effectiveness of the program and China has been under international pressure to scientifically report their findings.

26 November 2014

Nitrogen is a necessary element for crop and livestock growth, and protein intake is essential for a balanced human diet. This study examines efforts to improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in agriculture, and reduce unintended losses of nitrogen (N) to the environment. The paper particularly looks at how it is possible to offset reactive nitrogen (Nr) and achieve so called nitrogen-neutrality.

27 February 2014

Brighter Green has released a policy paper exploring the growth of industrial dairy systems in India, China, and countries of Southeast Asia. It explores the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies. The report examines systemic changes in Asia while also providing country-specific case study analyses of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

19 December 2013

This paper, which looks at the impact of agricultural intensification on soils across Europe, suggests that differences in the intensity of land use significantly affects soil ecosystems and the services they provide. High intensity arable land use is found to a have lower diversity and biomass of soil organisms than lower intensity arable or permanent grassland, and that this affects the carbon and nitrogen cycles in the environment.

1 November 2013

A new study by researchers at University of Calgary published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the long-term legacy of past fertilizer applications must be considered in reducing nitrate contamination of aquatic ecosystems. The study finds that nitrogen fertilizer leaks out in the form of nitrate into groundwater for much longer than was previously thought.  The long-term tracer study revealed that three decades after synthetic nitrogen (N) was applied to agricultural soils, 12–15% of the fertilizer-derived N was still residing in the soil organic matter, while 8–12% of the fertilizer N had already leaked toward the groundwater.

25 February 2013

A report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been published , focusing on the environmental problems caused by nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrient flows and identifying the actions that could be taken to reduce excessive nutrient use.  The research was led by Mark Sutton at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and carried out by 50 exports from 14 countries.

19 June 2012

The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) and the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) have published a ‘key messages’ statement for Rio+20. The document highlights the problems caused by excessive nutrient use on the one hand, and insufficient use on the other, and identifies nine key actions as being central to improving nutrient use efficiency, thereby improving food and energy production while reducing N and P losses that pollute our environment. 

10 January 2012

A Perspectives piece in Science discusses some recent studies focusing on the increasing abundance of available nitrogen on Earth.