Life In The Soil: A Perspective To Healthy Farming

“Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, earthworms, and what lies between—a healthy ecosystem underfoot is key to the vigor of life above ground. A leader in soil microbiology and author of the USDA’s Soil Biology Primer, Dr. Elaine Ingham will detail the complex interactions within the soil that make clean water, clean air, and life for higher creatures possible. Learn to foster and sustain the proper balance of soil organisms, and hear how compost tea can stimulate plant productivity and stave off disease. Dr. Ingham is also the founder of Soil Foodweb, Inc. and the former chief scientist for the Rodale Institute.”

I found this to be an excellent and completely fascinating introduction to the soil food web, I’d highly recomend it. This comes in 5 parts and is around 3 hours long in total, I know I’ll be listening to this one more than once thats for sure, check it out and be prepared to learn a lot from this fasinating woman.

PART 2: https://vimeo.com/90902847
PART 3: https://vimeo.com/90908150
PART 4: https://vimeo.com/90913699
PART 5: https://vimeo.com/90913700

Teaching Manual On Organic Farming And Gardening

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I found this “resource for instructors” when browsing the net and thought it would be useful for all, teacher or not. The document is 700 pages long so I’ve not had a chance to review it all yet but it’s an outstanding free resource, it also proives a good structure for those to test their knowledge on organic growing. They are also pointpoint presentations and videos on the link below so be sure to check those free resources out too.

“This manual is revolutionary, because of how dominant the chemical- and resource-intensive paradigmfor growing plants has become. As the world population grows and our climate changes, agricultural and food systems are ever more stressed and will be so for years to come. Diversified farming systems employing the techniques described in this manual absolutely can feed the world, as many studies continue to prove. If the future of food and agriculture is at all sustainable and just, it is far more likely to employ the methods in this manual than so-called conventional agricultural techniques. But perhaps most important for you, our readers, this manual is useful because it works. The practices described here can be employed in a variety of climates, soils, and educational settings. The information on soil science provides a solid grounding for the practices described, and the units on social and environmental issues offer a broader context for those interested in sustainable agriculture.”

LINK: http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/index.html
EBOOK: http://casfs.ucsc.edu/about/publications/Teaching-Organic-Farming/PDF-downloads/TOFG-all.pdf
DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/teaching_organic_farming_pdf.pdf

An Illustrated Guide To Common Plant Diseases

VerticilliumWiltdiscyclesm

I’ve just found an excellent website for the most common plant diseases, it’s an amazingly well illustrated document that everyone into Horticulture/Agriculture should check out and bookmark. One of the best resources I’ve come across to date for photographs and illustrations, well worth a look not only when you’re having problems but also to help familiarise yourself with them so you know what to look out for.

It covers the symptoms and signs, pathogen biology, disease cycle, epidemiology, disease management, and scientific, economic and social significance of major plant diseases.

LINK: https://www.apsnet.org/EDCENTER/INTROPP/LESSONS/Pages/default.aspx
FURTHER READING: https://www.apsnet.org/EDCENTER/INTROPP/Pages/default.aspx

New E.U. Law Lets Nations Ban Gene-Modified Crops

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After nearly five years of debate the European parliament has finally approved a new law that will allow EU nations to restrict or ban the cultivation of GM crops within their borders. While supporters of the new opt out law applauded it as the best possible compromise solution on GM for Europe, the staunchest proponents and opponents of GM cultivation are both sharply critical of the legislation.

‘This is a bad move for Europe,’ the agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto said in a statement. ‘It undermines science, it undermines European farmers and it raises prices for European consumers.’

Bert Staes, the Greens’ parliamentary food safety spokesman, said: ‘Despite a majority of EU member states and citizens being consistently opposed to GMOs, the real purpose of this new scheme is to make it easier to wave through EU authorisations of GM crops.’ In the past, Staes has called the opt out law a ‘Trojan horse’ that will be used to open the door for GM cultivation in Europe.

Continue reading “New E.U. Law Lets Nations Ban Gene-Modified Crops”

Russian Government Seeks To Ban Production Of GMOs

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Russia’s government has submitted a bill to the country’s parliament, seeking to ban cultivation and breeding of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The bill, submitted to the lower house of Russia’s parliament Tuesday, bans “the cultivation and breeding of genetically modified plants and animals on the territory of the Russian Federation, except for the use in expertise and scientific research.”

Importers of GMOs would be required to register and the government would be enabled to prohibit the import of such products to Russia after monitoring their effects on humans and the environment, according to the proposed legislation.

In addition, the bill envisions fines of up to 50,000 rubles (about $770) for officials and 500,000 rubles ($7680) for companies that fail to comply with existing GMO regulations.

Dozens of countries worldwide, including Russia, require food producers to label genetically modified foods, with opponents of GMOs, arguing that the health risks associated with such products have not been adequately studied.

In April 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that Russia would not import GMO food products, having enough resources to produce non-modified foods.

LINK: http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/179737/russian-government-seeks-to-ban-production-of-gmos.html

Toxin Produced By Oyster Mushroom Effective Against Nematodes

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The toxin produced by pleurotus ostreatus reduces the head size of nematodes.

“Many detrimental nematodes exist, including parasitic plant and animal nematodes. The Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom) is a famous mushroom that preys upon live nematodes. However, there have been no details reported on the mechanism of this predatory activity. Therefore, we investigated the predatory relationship between the nematode and P. ostreatus as a potential way of exterminating other various detrimental nematodes. Upon invasion by the nematode, the mushroom defends itself by causing the nematode’s head to shrink in size (anti-nematode activity). Our data suggest that this anti-nematode mechanism is associated with the peroxide of linoleic acid.”

Maybe this could be useful for things such as root-knot nematodes. Growing Oyster Mushrooms on your patch could turn out to not only tasty but also act as a natural “pesticide” as well. I’ll certainly be inoculating a few logs for the allotment this summer, maybe even some burlap sacks like Paul Statmets mentions in the last video, I believe he said the weaving is conductive to the fungi developing quickly.

SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18379043

Organic Yields Higher Than Previous Estimates Claims New Study

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A major review comparing organic and conventional farming has found organic crop yields are much higher than previously thought.

The analysis of 115 studies showed that organic crop yields were only 19.2% lower on average than conventional crops, a smaller difference than previous estimates.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic and conventional farming.

Senior study author Prof Claire Kremen said: “With global food needs predicted to greatly increase in the next 50 years, it’s critical to look more closely at organic farming, because aside from the environmental effects of industrial agriculture, the ability of synthetic fertilisers to increase crop yields has been declining.”

The researchers pointed out that the available studies comparing farming methods were often biased in favour of conventional agriculture, so the estimate of the yield gap is likely overestimated.

Continue reading “Organic Yields Higher Than Previous Estimates Claims New Study”