Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water pollution

6 November 2018

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.

Image: Jess Attaway, Men digging in a canal in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
22 October 2018

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.

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, Dramatic Views of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station From 9/12, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
25 September 2018

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.

Image: Žarko Šušnjar, Among the fields of wheat, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
12 September 2018

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.

Image: Brian Robert Marshall, Crop spraying near St Mary Bourne, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
10 July 2018

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.

Image: Lynn Betts, Runoff of soil & fertilizer, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
21 May 2018

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.

15 May 2018

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.

Image: MOAA, Satellite image and illustration of a dead zone in the southern U.S., Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
9 May 2018

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.

Image: Oregon State University, Microplastic, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 March 2018

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.

20 February 2018

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.

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture, How much do fruits and vegetables cost, Flickr, CC by 2.0
12 December 2017

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.

12 December 2017

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.

28 November 2017

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.

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 20130712-AMS-LSC-0415, Flickr, CC by 2.0
13 November 2017

This paper presents the findings of a food systems model that considers how specific agronomic characteristics of organic agriculture could be harnessed so as to enable it to play a greater role in sustainable food systems.

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