We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Global Pollination Problems
It is not just one pesticide or even several impacting the natural
order. It has a great deal to do with preserving the wild and
designing fields to be pollinator friendly. We used to think fence
rows as wasted land. That is a mistake.
Strip farming with a living wild creating margins as well as field
trees are all viable strategies. Tree crops specifically call for
more rough understory than we are used to having. Quite simply the
wild feeds the insects when the crop is not. Their population can
then expand rapidly to take advantage of a sudden blooming because it
is already dense enough.
Monoculture has naturally led to large fields sharply reducing the
access of the wild pollinators this is what must be overcome.
The problems with pesticides cannot be ignored either but changing
that is a political problem outside the control of the individual
farmer except by outright avoidance and that is still not good enough
for a reduced population of wasps to cover the crop. Thus
introducing the wild through strips in an effective approach and if
done properly, it may not even reduce general productivity.
thirds of the crops humans use for food production and the majority
of wild plant species depend on pollination by insects such as bees
and hover-flies. This ecosystem service, however, provided by nature
to humans for free, is increasingly failing. As an example, after
3000 years of sustainable agriculture, farmers in the Chinese
province Sichuan have to pollinate apple flowers themselves by
using pollination sticks - brushes made of chicken feathers and
This is one small
example of a problem occurring world-wide, including Europe. The work
has been carried out in part part by STEP, an EU-funded Framework
program Seven (FP7) project.
A global survey of
several studies demonstrated a severe decline of pollinators and
provision of pollination services in a wide range of intensively
managed temperate and tropical agroecosystems. Considering that
global crop production worth 153 billion Euros (for Europe 22 billion
Euros) relies on insect pollination, the pollinators' decline has
direct impact on the stability of food production and consumer
prices, and might also have serious consequences for human health.
A decrease of fruit
and vegetable availability could impact the health of consumers
worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a lower limit
of 400 grams per capita per day for fruit and vegetable consumption.
Some studies demonstrated than even now more than 50% of the European
households fall below this recommendation. In the case of pollinator
declines and increasing food prices, this situation is very likely to
pollinators provide an inestimable contribution to maintain the
diversity of wild plants. Importantly, a wide range of pollinators
with different preferences to flowers and different daily and
seasonal activity is necessary to ensure pollination. Relying on
managed honeybees only, which are also in decline by themselves, is a
very risky strategy", said Prof. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter from
the University of Wurzburg, Germany.
conservation of pollinators' habitats and implementation of
agro-environmental practices to enhance wild plants resources and
nesting sites for bees in agricultural landscapes are vitally