Guide To Sustainable Soil Management

BuildingSoilsOriginal A thorough, free, easy-to-read guide for ecological soil management which includes nutrient management, nutrient cycles, cover crops and other soil-improving practices. “Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. Case studies of farmers from across the country provide inspiring examples of how soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through these techniques. A must-read for farmers, educators and students alike.” LINK: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/buildingsoilsforbettercrops.pdf

Launched Today: Collectively.org

A newly launched website aimed at young people and them taking action to influence policy and create change in their community, specifically in regards to sustainability. As they say “In our articles, we will not only give readers a great story full of useful information, but also something they can do to begin creating the world they want to live in.” What to know more, check this out: https://collectively.org/en/article/what-is-collectively

“Collectively is where the power of positivity and collaboration make sustainability the new norm. Watch as we follow several young people across the globe that took a stand against the status quo to help build a better world around them. From emissions-cutting inventions to socially responsible travel, hear their inspirational ideas and let us know what you think. “

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Liberal Democrats Pledge To Build “Garden Cities”

Nick Clegg is to move on Monday to differentiate the Liberal Democrats from the Tories on the highly contentious issue of garden cities by pledging to build five new towns along a train line linking Oxford and Cambridge.

The deputy prime minister, who accused the Tories earlier this year of adopting a nimby approach to house building, will say that the plan will help to create an extra 50,000 new homes in an area of intense demand for housing in the home counties.

A coalition row over housing flared up earlier this year after it emerged that the Tories had declined to publish a Whitehall report which suggested that two new garden cities needed to be built in southern England to relieve pressure on housing.

Clegg will say that the Lib Dems would insist in any future coalition negotiations that 10 new garden cities should be built, with five along a new express railway line linking Oxford and Cambridge. This used to be dubbed the “varsity line” but Clegg is now calling it the “garden city line”.

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The Edible Garden Series

The Edible Garden – BBC TV Series (2010)

Gardener, presenter and writer Alys Fowler attempts to avoid shop bought fruit/vegetables and live off her own home grown produce. Alys focus on different foods and show how anyone can grow, cook and eat from their own garden even if they live in a urban environment. It’s no easy task for her because she doesn’t want to turn her garden into an allotment  so she’s growing her fruit and veg among flowers. Peas and beans are prolific vegetables but they also look beautiful in the borders too. Alys also goes and makes delicious broad bean falafels and pea shoot cocktails and forages for willow to make plant supports. She has two new additions to the family, her chickens!

As with all of these types of programs their is an element of it being unrealistic and just for TV but it’s still worth watching for those that enjoy this type of thing. I’m sure as with everything you’ll learn a thing or two along the way.

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Sustainable Livestock Production Is Possible

Sustainable Livestock

New research has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

Consumers are increasingly demanding higher standards for how their meat is sourced, with animal welfare and the impact on the environment factoring in many purchases. Unfortunately, many widely-used livestock production methods are currently unsustainable. However, new research out today from the University of Cambridge has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

Professor Donald Broom, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research said: “Consumers are now demanding more sustainable and ethically sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”
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Grow Your Own Food Summit

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This is a collection of interviews for anyone interested in growing their own food or living a more sustainable existence.Thirty-four presentations cover everything from community building to creating a food forest to beginning your very first garden, saving non-GMO seeds, permaculture and much more.

So like you I’ve also missed the first couple of days but it runs until the 14th, the snag is the lectures are only available for 24 hours after they post them (10am US Eastern Daylight Time) but it’s worth signing up now for the remainder of the videos and talks. I really enjoyed the one I just listed to the talk with Vandan Shiva about, among other things, the vital importance of seed saving as well as the abundance that comes from say 1 tomato gives you enough seeds to grow potentially hundreds more tomatoes.

I think you’ll like these, so get them while they you can for free.

SIGN-UP LINK: http://www.growfoodsummit.com

Symbiosis: Enforced Surrender?

Symbiosis Enforced Surrender

Scientists from INRA and Lorraine University in France unraveled a key mechanism in the symbiosis between fungi and trees. During this mutually beneficial interaction, the fungus takes control of its host plant by injecting a small protein that neutralizes its immune defenses thereby allowing the fungus to colonize the plant. This finding is a major advance in our understanding of the evolution and functioning of symbiotic interactions between fungi and plants – relationships that play a significant role in supporting the health and sustainability of our natural ecosystems.

In the complex world of the rhizosphere – the soil surrounding plant roots – thousands of species of bacteria and fungi compete for resources released by plants. Some fungi, such as truffles and boletus, are able to live in symbiosis with plants through their roots, by-passing their competitors to obtain sugars directly from their host.  In return, symbiotic fungi allow plant roots to absorb mineral nutrients; this improves the plant’s health, vigor and productivity. Mycorrhizal fungi are one class of symbiotic fungi that make their way to plant roots where they negotiate for housing and all-you-can-eat sugar services. But how does this negotiation play out?  Is the host plant able to distinguish between beneficial and parasitic fungi? How does the fungus avoid the plant’s immune defenses during the interaction?

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UK Aquaponics Gets A Boost From Government Agri-Tech Funding

Aquaponicsfarm
The first portion of funding from the governments £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst, part of the UK Industrial Strategy for Agricultural Technologies, will support several projects likely to impact on the fresh produce sector. They (11 groups) will receive a total of £4m; £2.8m funding from government with £1.4m co-investment from industry. One of the 11 companies to recieve the funding one is an Aquaponics growing system.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “This work is critical in supporting the UK’s Agri-tech Strategy and our commitment to establish the UK as a world leader in agriculture technology, innovation and sustainability.”

“GrowUp Urban Farms” will lead a consortium to build the “UK’s first (apparently) aquaponic urban farm”, to quantify the economic and environmental potential of the format. Others have done Aquaponics in the UK like Charlie Prices work back in 2008 with Aquaponics UK but it looks as though they are going to try and do it on a “farm” commercial space, I’ll keep an eye on this for the future.

That said its excellent news that fundings reaching aquaponics companies and it can be better evaluated. I feel the technology has got high potential here in the UK as arable land is very expensive here (£8,813 per acre, prices have trebled in last 10 years), being able to grow without soil is a major advantage their as it’s something you can use to literally grow anywhere from run down trading estates, old car parks and even on grounds that polluted.
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Study Says Allotment Soil Is Better Than Conventional Farm Land For Food Growing

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Soil report shows we should all grow more of our own – New research confirms that soil in allotments and back gardens is richer – and more productive – than on farms

Soil is one of the great failures of modern intensive agriculture. Healthy soils, beneath natural grasslands and – especially – woodlands, contain lots of organic matter. This organic matter holds onto nutrients and gives the soil structural stability, allowing it to resist damage by, for example, heavy rain, thus preventing erosion. There’s also plenty of life in a healthy soil, lots of burrowing earthworms, and so lots of pore space too. A healthy soil is basically a giant sponge, which fills up with water after rain, gradually releasing that water to plants in dry weather.

When land is cleared for agriculture, and especially for arable crops, all that goes out of the window. The organic matter in arable soils is lost to the atmosphere as CO2, and the soil loses its structure and strength, leading to compaction and erosion. Arable soils also lose their ability to hold onto water, nutrients and pollutants, leaking nutrients into groundwater and lakes and rivers, causing eutrophication and, if the water is for human use, the need for expensive water treatment.

Although this is all depressingly well-known, the conventional view is that all this soil degradation is the price we have to pay for the high yields of arable crops on which we all depend. But, says new research just published in the Journal of Applied Ecology [Urban cultivation in allotments maintains soil qualities adversely affected by conventional agriculture], gardening proves the conventional view to be completely wrong. The researchers looked at the properties of soils on allotments in Leicester, along with those from other urban sites, and compared them with soils beneath arable fields and pasture in the countryside around Leicester.

The arable soils showed all the usual symptoms: compacted, lifeless and low in organic matter. Allotment soils, by contrast, were more open, more fertile, and higher in organic matter, in fact they weren’t all that different from soils beneath woodland. The reason isn’t hard to find: composting of allotment waste is virtually universal among allotment holders, most also import household green waste as well, and use of manure and other kinds of commercial compost is widespread. In short, soils on allotments are healthy because allotment holders go to a lot of trouble to keep them that way.

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The World Is Hungry For Food Sustainability

Saoirse Ronan speaks out on Ireland’s legacy of sustainable farming and the future role it has in providing the world with responsibly sourced food and drink.

Ireland is on a mission to become a world leader in sustainably produced food and drink. With Origin Green, a pioneering national sustainable development programme launched by The Irish Food Board in June 2012, Ireland is galvanising its entire food industry to join the journey to sustainability and be part of the global solution. A growing movement of Irish farmers and producers are answering the call by signing up to the Origin Green charter.

(2013) “Origin Green is a unique programme which will allow Ireland to become a world leader in sustainable high quality food and drink production. The Origin Green programme is built upon the Origin Green Sustainability Charter which will commit participants to engage directly with the challenges of sustainability. This will include reducing energy inputs, minimising overall carbon footprint and lessening impact on the environment in order to increase efficiency and competitiveness.”… as of a year ago “176 companies, representing over 60% of our Food exports, have now signed up to Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.”

To learn more visit them at:
http://www.origingreen.ie & http://www.bordbia.ie

ARTICLE LINK: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/origin-green-ireland-partner-zone/world-hungry-sustainability-saoirese-ronan-video