Plastic pollution isn’t just a problem in our oceans. It’s also affecting the Great Lakes

Read the full story from the University of Toronto Scarborough.

When it comes to plastics polluting our water, it’s not just the world’s oceans we need to worry about says U of T assistant professor Chelsea Rochman.

“The contamination in the Great Lakes and other bodies of freshwater from plastics and microplastics is ubiquitous,” says Rochman, whose lab focuses on the fate of plastic debris and its associated chemical contaminants.

She points to published research, in addition to work in her lab and with colleagues, that finds the concentrations of plastics in areas of the Great Lakes are equal to or greater than those reported in the ocean. Their work in Lake Ontario, Lake Superior and Lake Huron has also found microplastics (particles five millimetres and smaller) in nearly all fish collected.

A Farmer’s View: A Look at the Conservation Stewardship Program

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This report examines the efficacy of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. These states were selected based on their high rates of CSP contracts and acres enrolled in the program, as well as their role as agriculture-centric states. Through surveying participants in these regions, we acquired valuable data from farmers and ranchers regarding their enrollment and satisfaction with the program.

The survey results showed many farmers and ranchers value the opportunity CSP offers to build upon their existing conservation efforts. Whether through implementation of new farming techniques, developing a better understanding of how the actions on their farms impact natural resources, or through upgrading technology, participants are finding the program enhances their conservation efforts. Many farmers and ranchers also reported that after enrolling, they were able to see positive benefits and improved conditions on their land. The majority of farmers and ranchers who responded reported a high level of satisfaction with the program and stated CSP should be prioritized in the 2018 farm bill.

For decades, the Center for Rural Affairs has advocated for policy that supports healthy farms and rural communities, and conservation has been a central pillar of our work. We seek to ensure our conservation programs continue to provide strong support to farmers and ranchers for their environmental stewardship. The findings of this report point to widespread support for CSP and emphasize the need to preserve and support the program in the 2018 farm bill.


Using Nuclear Techniques to Combat Climate Change and Improve Crop Yields

Read the full story from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Farmers in Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya and Uruguay are increasing crop yields and enhancing the fertility and quality of the soil in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective way – thanks to the results of an IAEA coordinated research project recently concluded in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Farmers conserve together

Read the full story in Corn & Soybean Digest.

The data on saving soil and protecting water quality is clear. Conservation practices work. However, they take time and money, and other priorities can get in the way. The Root River Field to Stream Partnership gathered data, but more importantly, it engaged with growers and encouraged conversations among growers that led to positive changes.

Life after CRP: Returning land to crops

Read the full story in AgWeek.

CRP is a federal program that pays landowners to take environmentally sensitive land out of production, with the land planted to grass and other vegetation. CRP contracts are for either 10 to 15 years — and the land potentially can be re-enrolled — so the vegetation typically is in place for many years.

That complicates returning the land to crop production. The no-longer-desired vegetative cover needs to be destroyed or removed, which requires both time and money. Weeds or insects or both can pose special problems. Often, over time, the land has become rough or bumpy, increasing the difficulty of planting and harvesting it. And soil nutrients, especially nitrogen, which is crucial to plant growth, usually are low and need to be replenished.

Algae Blooms: Ohio Spent Billions But Only One Percent On Agriculture

Read the full story at IdeaStream.

Since 2011, Ohio has spent more than $3 billion on efforts to solve Lake Erie’s harmful algal bloom problem. Yet the majority of the money isn’t going to projects that stop algal blooms at the source.

Stormwater ponds not a major source of greenhouse gas emissions

Read the full story at Science Daily.

Stormwater retention ponds, a ubiquitous feature in urban landscapes, are not a significant source of climate-warming nitrous oxide emissions, a new study finds. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and destroys stratospheric ozone. Previous studies suggested stormwater ponds might be a problematic source of the gas, since they produce it as a by-product of the denitrification process that removes excess nitrogen from urban runoff.

Forests ‘essential’ for the future, UN agriculture chief spells out in new report

Read the full story from the United Nations.

Halting deforestation, managing forests sustainably, restoring degraded forests and adding to worldwide tree cover all require actions to avoid potentially damaging consequences for the planet and its people, according to the State of the World’s Forests 2018, referred to as SOFO 2018.

Eight ways to improve native vegetation on private land

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University of Canterbury research has led to eight recommendations on how New Zealanders can help increase the benefits they reap from large-scale native restorations located on private land.

Cover Crops Enhance Soil Quality – At A Cost

Read the full post at Science 2.0.

Replacing fallow lands with cover crops in order to increase the levels of carbon and soil nitrogen also enhances its quality and mitigates nitrate leaching in an agricultural land, according to a new analysis.