Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Land

Just under 40% of the entire terrestrial surface of our planet is used for agriculture, the vast majority of this for pasture. The land area which can be defined as wilderness – areas where humans have little influence – accounts for around 20% of the total land area and this extent is diminishing. These wilderness areas are, however, vital for the continued existence of wildlife plant species, and ecosystem services. As human populations grow and their lifestyle and consumption patterns become more resource demanding, the pressure on land use is increasing, and the multiple uses we have for land are often in competition with one another. Different cultures define ownership and rights to use land in contrasting ways, making land not only a precious resource but often a focus of contention too.

Image: PublicDomainImages, Soil tilling farmer, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
26 February 2019

This paper uses long-term studies from Europe and China to examine the effects on soil quality of organic matter addition, no-till practices, crop rotation and organic farming. It finds that yields are lower under no-till and organic practices, but that these practices are associated with higher soil organic matter.

Image: Oregon State University, A mature grass plant is composed of leaves, a root system, stems and a seed head, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
19 February 2019

This commentary in Nature Sustainability discusses governance and initiatives for conserving and increasing soil organic carbon. Through a multi-stakeholder discussion group, the authors developed a global agenda for action on soil organic carbon.

11 February 2019

This report outlines the outcomes of the 4 per 1000 Africa Symposium on Soils for Food Security and Climate, which discussed the links between soil health and climate in Africa.

Image: glennhurowitz, Recent deforestation on peatland for palm oil plantation, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
11 February 2019

According to this paper, 23% of deforestation in Indonesia between 2001 and 2016 was caused by palm oil plantations, 20% by conversion of forests to grasslands or shrublands (including conversion caused by fire), 15% by small-scale agriculture, 14% by timber plantations, and the remainder due to other causes including logging roads, mining and fish ponds.

Image: USDA, A person's hands in soil with a worm, Flickr, Public domain
4 February 2019

This paper models the relationship between soil organic matter and yields of maize and wheat, finding that while higher soil organic carbon (a proxy for soil organic matter) levels do generally correspond to higher yields, the yields taper off at around 2% soil organic matter.

15 January 2019

The latest issue of The Land magazine, of which FCRN member Simon Fairlie is an editor, has a 40-page section on meat-eating and veganism, with about 20 articles and short features representing a variety of viewpoints.

Image: charlesricardo, soybeans harvester grains Brazil, Pixabay, Pixabay license
15 January 2019

Bolsonaro, the new far-right president of Brazil, has given the Agriculture Ministry responsibility for “identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people”, according to Reuters. Environmentalists are concerned that the Amazon rainforest will be opened to greater commercial exploitation.

Image: USDA, Alley cropping, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
10 December 2018

So-called natural climate solutions in the United States (such as changing management of forests, grassland and agricultural land) could create annual emissions savings equivalent up to 21% of current US emissions according to this paper.

Image: NASA, NASA photo of deforestation in Tierras Bajas project, Bolivia, from ISS on April 16, 2001, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
26 November 2018

This paper presents maps of global land use change from 1992 to 2015, showing net increases in the area of agriculture, grassland and settlement, and net losses in the area of forest, wetland, shrubland, sparse land, bare land and water.

19 November 2018

Current land use patterns in the UK are not sustainable, according to this report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change. The report claims that, if current farming trends continue, there will not be enough land in the UK to both meet future settlement needs and maintain current levels of per capita food production. The report also predicts significant negative effects of climate change on soils, water, vegetation and wildlife.

Image: Gabelglesia, Solar array in the Antioch College South Campus, near the farm. Sheep included, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

This paper compared soil moisture and biomass growth between pasture both with and without photovoltaic solar panel arrays. While average soil moisture was similar across the fields with and without solar panels, the field with the solar panels had more variable soil moisture: directly underneath the solar panels, persistent stores of soil water were available throughout the growing season. Without solar panels, the pasture experienced water stress in the middle of summer.

22 October 2018

The report “Missing pathways to 1.5°C: The role of the land sector in ambitious climate action”, by the Climate Land Ambition and Rights Alliance, assesses greenhouse gas mitigation pathways that use “low-risk” land-based solutions that protect natural ecosystems and respect human rights. The report aims to provide an alternative to the IPCC’s mitigation pathways, many of which rely on mitigation approaches such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

16 October 2018

US-based consulting firm Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions has created a list of recent papers, reports, conferences, media items, jobs and other resources on the topics of soil health and soil carbon sequestration.

Image: Neil Palmer, Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
16 October 2018

The current front-runner for Brazil’s presidency, Jair Bolsonaro, member of the right-wing Social Liberal Party, proposes to abolish Brazil’s ministry of environment, hand control of agricultural policies to politicians who advocate reducing land conservation and expanding agricultural lands, withdraw Brazil from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and open indigenous lands to mining.

Image: glennhurowitz, Recently planted palm oil plantation on rainforest peatland, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

27% of global deforestation since 2001 has been caused by permanent land use change for producing commodities (such as beef, soy and palm oil), according to a recent paper. The researchers used satellite imagery to assess 10 km by 10 km grid cells across the globe and categorised each cell by likely forest disturbance type: commodity production, shifting agriculture, managed forestry, wildfire, or urbanisation.

12 September 2018

The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration’s report “Restoring forests and landscapes: the key to a sustainable future” presents case studies of the successful restoration of landscapes that have been affected by deforestation and land degradation.

4 September 2018

The EU-funded CAPSELLA project, which develops digital tools for agrobiodiversity, has released an online tool to guide users through the steps of taking a “spade test” to monitor soil quality. Users can also choose to upload their results to a public database.

Image: Leon Brooks, Pina plantation, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
4 September 2018

A recent paper uses data from three countries (Ghana, Mexico and Poland) to determine whether more carbon can be kept in above-ground stocks by land sparing (increasing farms yields to minimise the conversion of natural habitats to farmland) or land sharing (increasing carbon stocks on farms, at the cost of converting more natural habitat to farmland because of lower yields). Land sparing maintained the highest above-ground carbon stocks in all cases studied.

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