In its simplest form food could be defined as any substance with the capacity to be turned into energy by living things. In its most complex, food is attributed with the power to sustain the development of human civilizations. While in its most basic form food is common and essential to all species, humans have commodified food to the extent that billions of individuals, in both the poorest and wealthiest of nations suffer from hunger. Today food is at the center of debates about health, about family farms versus industrial farms, water and land use, economics and genetically modified organisms.
?Main Image: Steer fitted with a global positioning system (GPS) collar to examine cattle responses to prescribed burns at the Central Plains Experimental Range in...
Greenhouse gas mitigation in agricultureLast Updated on 2014-11-17 12:04:21
Agricultural lands occupy 37% of the Earth’s land surface. Agriculture accounts for 52% and 84% of global anthropogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Agricultural soils may also act as a sink or source for carbon dioxide (CO2), but the net flux is small. Many agricultural practices can potentially mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the most prominent of which are improved cropland and grazing land management and restoration of degraded lands and cultivated organic soils. Lower, but still significant mitigation potential is provided by water and rice management, set-aside, land use change and agroforestry, livestock management and manure management. The global technical mitigation potential from agriculture (excluding fossil fuel offsets from biomass) by 2030, considering all gases, is estimated to be ~5500-6000 megatonnes (Mt) CO2-eq. yr-1, with economic... More »
Agriculture and Climate ChangeLast Updated on 2014-11-15 15:30:18The agriculture sector is a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which many scientists agree are contributing to observed climate change. Agriculture is also a “sink” for sequestering carbon, which might offset GHG emissions by capturing and storing carbon in agricultural soils. The two key types of GHG emissions associated with agricultural activities are methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Agricultural sources of CH4 emissions mostly occur as part of the natural digestive process of animals and manure management at livestock operations; sources of N2O emissions are associated with soil management and fertilizer use on croplands. This article describes these emissions on a carbon-equivalent basis to illustrate agriculture’s contribution to total national GHG emissions and to contrast emissions against estimates of sequestered carbon.
Emissions from... More »
Animal foodLast Updated on 2014-11-15 15:14:46The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) defines Animal Food as:
Any article intended for use as food for dogs, cats, or other animals derived wholly, or in part, from the carcass or parts or products of the carcass of any livestock, except that the term animal food as used herein does not include:
Processed dry animal food or
Livestock or poultry feeds manufactured from processed livestock byproducts (such as meatmeal tankage, meat and bonemeal, bloodmeal, and feed grade animal fat).
Crop residue burning in the United StatesLast Updated on 2014-10-26 17:09:05
Crop residue burning occurs in all fifty states, including Alaska. In the contiguous United States nearly 20% of land is dedicated to crops. Residues from corn, cotton, rice, soybean, sugar cane, wheat, grass seed (e.g. Kentucky bluegrass seed), horticultural crops, and fallow fields are most commonly burned. Crop residue burning in the United States takes two forms: (1) the practice of burning residues post-harvest whereby the residues consist of a layer of ground-level senescent vegetation, and; (2) the practice of burning residue pre-harvest (primarily used for sugarcane harvesting), whereby leaves and other biomass are burned prior to the harvest. In addition to burning crop residues both during and after harvest, fire is also used in cropland areas for pest and weed control and to prepare fields for planting. Crop residue burning helps growers stay competitive as it is... More »
International Food Security Assessment: 2012-22Last Updated on 2014-10-26 16:56:26
Food security is estimated to improve slightly in 2012 as the number of food-insecure people in the 76 countries covered in this report declines from 814 million in 2011 to 802 million in 2012. The share of the population that is food insecure remains at 24 percent. Over the next decade, the share of the population that is food insecure is projected to decline from 24 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2022, but the number of food insecure people is projected to increase by 37 million. Regionally, food insecurity is projected to remain most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa. Food-insecure people are defined as those consuming less than the nutritional target of roughly 2,100 calories per day per person.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) has, since the late 1970s, reported annually on food security in a number of developing countries. A key... More »
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