Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Free course - discover your soil (opportunity)

Citizen Science: From Soil to Sky - Free Online Course

Where can you find all sorts of useful and important information about your environment? You might be surprised to know it’s beneath your feet, in the soil. On this course you will discover interesting things about your own soil and become part of the new GROW Citizen Observatory European-wide community. You will collaborate with other growers and scientists to discover the impact global soil practices have on major issues like the environment and food growing. Now is the time to make a difference, join us, improve your soil and become a citizen scientist. This course is part taught by Dr. Naomi van der Velden, Senior Researcher in Agroecology at the Permaculture Association Britain.

Cutting pesticide use won't cause losses (online)

Farms could slash pesticide use without losses, research reveals

Virtually all farms could significantly cut their pesticide use while still producing as much food, according to a major new study. The research also shows chemical treatments could be cut without affecting farm profits on three-quarters of farms. The scientists said that many farmers wanted to reduce pesticide use, but do not have good access to information on alternatives, because much of their advice comes from representatives of companies that sell both seeds and pesticides. The work presents a serious challenge to the billion-dollar pesticide industry, which has long argued its products are vital to food production. 
(This post was sourced via GROW Observatory)

Training in agro-ecology (opportunity)

Post Graduate and Professional Training in Agroecology

The Agroecology Knowledge Hub identifies post-graduate and professional training opportunities in Agroecology across the world. Since November 2016, FAO has been engaging with many universities to share their programmes including short courses, post-graduate courses, and online courses. They stretch across learning styles, from hands-on field experience, to having a scientific focus, and/or strong social justice aspects.  Programmes are available for people of all backgrounds: farmers, peasants and practitioners, academics, policymakers, and more. These courses are included in the Agroecology Knowledge Hub Database and could be displayed by selecting “Learning” in the “More search option” field “Type”.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The benefits of farm biodiversity (online)

 Mapping the Benefits of Farm Biodiversity
 While the ecological literature has firmly established that crop diversity is good, few studies help farmers home in on exactly which crops to rotate. Academics at the University of California are developing a new method, merging participatory research, GIS mapping, and a measure of evolutionary relatedness called “phylogenetics.” Imagine a tree of life, with different plant families branching off from common ancestors. Theoretically, more distant plant cousins are less likely to host the same pests and diseases. But just how distant do these plant cousins need to be? Farmers participating in the study can use maps of their farms’ evolutionary diversity to compare the environmental performance of different crop combinations. The maps have also facilitated a dialogue between farmers and researchers about crops that fill both ecological and economic niches. A wide array of ornamental flowers, for example, adds both biodiversity and a new high-value crop.

 (This post was sourced via GROW Observatory)


Earthworms are more important than pandas! (online)

Earthworms are more important than pandas (if you want to save the planet)

Not all wildlife is created equal in our eyes. Take the earthworm, which doesn’t have the widespread appeal of larger, more charismatic animals such as gorillas, tigers or pandas. Worms are never going to get a strong “cute response”, and they won’t ever be the face of a conservation campaign. But – panda fans avert your eyes – worm conservation is much more important once we factor in their provision of what we now call “ecosystem services”, which are crucial to human survival. In fact, earthworms have been ranked the number one most influential species in the history of the planet – above dinosaurs and humans. 

 (This post was sourced via GROW Observatory)

New app records your planting and harvesting (online)

the FarmFollow App 

This app is for small farmers and home-gardeners, wanna-be home-gardeners and farmers, school gardeners, community gardeners, gardening services, and anyone who grows food or seeks to grow food in a sustainable way. I made this app for people like me who may not consistently remember every thing we did in a garden season and could benefit from an in-hand reference showing what or when we have planted/mulched/harvested. ALSO this app can help simplify record-keeping processes for Organic Certified growers who are required to track all their garden and farm activities. The FarmFollow eliminates messy paperwork and pulls together your garden story for you, allowing you to learn from your garden’s own history and from the garden history of other growers near and far.

Monitoring corporate progress on the SDGs (online)

Is this the start of an SDG reporting boom?

From tallying carbon footprints to wrangling waste in global supply chains, rising demand for corporate transparency from investors, consumers and customers has translated to an ever-widening array of reporting related to corporate responsibility. Now, add to that list newer metrics emerging to emphasize the United Nations' 17 global development goals. The U.N. goals include sweeping objectives such as ending poverty and hunger, and are an area where companies increasingly look to demonstrate commitment. Although environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting long has pushed companies to voluntarily disclose impacts, the Sustainable Development Goals further enmesh economics, social issues and environmental imperatives.