Showing results for: Water pollution
This paper outlines the main sustainability challenges linked to nitrogen, including inadequate access to nitrogen fertiliser in some parts of the world and excessive fertiliser application in other areas, leading to water pollution, algal blooms and risks to human health. The paper argues that solving nitrogen problems would have co-benefits for other sustainability issues such as hunger, air, soil and water quality, climate and biodiversity.
This report by the RISE Foundation (Rural Investment Support for Europe), co-authored by FCRN member Elisabet Nadeu, outlines the environmental and health impacts of livestock production and consumption in the EU. The report suggests that there is a “safe operating space” for livestock production, defined at the lower bound by the provision of nutrition to humans and the maintenance of permanent pasture habitats, and defined at the upper boundary by climate impacts and nitrogen and phosphorus emissions.
Wastewater canals used to irrigate urban agriculture in Burkina Faso may harbour dangerous microbes such as tuberculosis and genes that give microbes resistance to antibiotics, according to this research paper. The canals sampled by the researchers were designed to protect against flooding, but are used to water agricultural fields. The canals, which are not regularly cleaned, receive sludge, solid waste, wastewater, and effluent from a hospital, a market, houses and a slaughterhouse.
The flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina has drowned millions of chickens and thousands of pigs that were left on farms during the storm. The floodwaters have also caused at least 13 manure storage lagoons to overspill, spreading potentially dangerous bacteria and excess nutrients to the surrounding areas.
A new paper reviews the extent to which sustainable intensification has been achieved in England. It concludes that agricultural intensification drove environmental degradation during the 1980s. In the 1990s, however, yields became decoupled from fertiliser and pesticide use, meaning that some ecosystems services began to recover. The authors interpret their results as meaning that sustainable intensification has begun. Farmland biodiversity, however, has not recovered.
FCRN member Waleed Fouad Abobatta of the Agriculture Research Centre, Egypt, has published a paper on the applications of nanotechnology in agriculture. FCRN readers may be particularly interested in the use of nanotechnology to reduce use of fertilisers and pesticides through greater application efficiency.
Structural changes in the food system such as replacing half of animal proteins with plant-based proteins could significantly marine eutrophication in the North-East Atlantic, according to a recent paper. The authors addressed the question of whether Western Europe can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff to coastal areas without endangering food security.
A report by WWF, The Rivers Trust and The Angling Trust finds that only 14% of rivers in England are classed as healthy, with damage being caused by poor farming and land management practices, for example by degraded soil being washed into watercourses and agricultural chemicals contaminating groundwater. The report sets out a strategy for managing both soil and water health, including stricter control of slurry storage, incentives for farmers to plant woodland or create wetland habitats and creating an advice service for farmers and land managers.
In this TED talk, ocean expert Nancy Rabalais discusses the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico - an area of the ocean where there isn’t enough oxygen to support sea life. Fertiliser runoff from farmland further up the Mississippi River is causing the dead zone, according to Rabalais. She says that solutions could include growing perennial grains and using precision fertilisation.
A report (PDF link) tested bottled water in nine different countries and found that 242 out of 259 bottles contained small pieces of plastic. The report suggests that at least some of the plastic particles may be coming from the packaging or the bottling process.
This report, edited by the World Bank, reviews the literature to explore the sources and impacts of agricultural pollution in East Asia and propose solutions.
This new study by FCRN member Paul Behrens and colleagues investigates the environmental impacts of a nationally recommended diet when compared to the national average diet for 37 nations across the world, including 9 middle income nations.
The planetary boundaries concept provides a theoretical upper limit on human activity which the planet is able to sustain without major perturbation to the current ‘Earth system’. Previously, nine planetary boundaries (PBs) have been proposed and recently Steffen et al. (2015) have updated these boundary definitions and assessed the current state of the position of human activity with respect to each boundary. In this article, researchers from a number of food, climate change, agricultural and environmental research institutions around the world build on this work by assessing the impact of agriculture on each PB status, based on a detailed literature review of the available research.
This new book, edited by Laura M. Pereira, Caitlin A. McElroy, Alexandra Littaye and Alexandra M. Girard, presents a diversity of collaborations between various governance actors in the management of the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus and analyses the ability of emergent governance structures to cope with the complexity of future challenges across FEW systems worldwide.