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value of natural capital: the need for chartered surveyors
this insight paper reviews the broad topic of environmental valuation from the perspective of a practising valuer, land manager or estate manager. this paper approaches the field of economic valuation of the environment from a professional valuation perspective. (charles cowap for the rics)the language and approaches of environmental valuation are presented to enable parallels to be drawn with the professional and technical procedures that are familiar to professional valuers when dealing with the valuation of conventional property assets in established (actual or notional) market contexts. naturally, care is required to ensure that clients fully understand the nature of the advice being provided, and that there may — and usually will — be wide divergence between figures provided on these fundamentally different bases.we encourage all chartered surveyors engaged with land and natural resources in any capacity to familiarise themselves with this paper and other relevant industry publications and stay abreast of developments in the ecosystems services arena as they emerge and evolve.value of natural capital — the need for chartered surveyors, charles cowap for the ricsdownloadable files: value of natural capital
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drones that detect early plant disease could save crops
researchers are developing drones that could detect plant disease before any visible signs show, allowing farmers to stop infections in their tracks. disease can negatively impact plant health before any visible signs like leaf discolouration show. while these stresses are invisible to the naked eye, cameras using special filters could detect these subtle changes.now, researchers in the imperial college department of life sciences and computing are partnering with agriculture services company agrii to create cameras mounted on drones. these cameras could automatically detect early disease stages, and tell farmers when to spray, before the disease damages the crop.spraying early in the right location would help farmers use fungicides effectively and targeting their use to best effect. they are currently developing a tool to help forecast septoria, a key fungus affecting wheat, but believe the concept could later be adapted for other diseases.chris adams, who is taking on the project for his phd, said: “allowing farmers to identify stress before full infection occurs is particularly important as the climate changes. an unpredictable environment makes it challenging to track and forecast disease.“diseases reduce yields when we need them to be high, as the global population grows and we need to feed more people than ever. reducing yield loss to diseases like septoria will allo...
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photoprotection and crop productivity | farming futures
this recent research article in science has received a decent amount of attention for good reason given the possible impact it could have on crop productivity through increasing photosynthetic efficiency. however, the approach to increasing efficiency in this paper varies considerably from the efforts to transport c4 photosynthesis into c3 crops more regularly seen.backgroundwe have a good understanding of the working of photosynthesis and its use of photons and excited electrons to fix carbon. but built into this system is a protection mechanism that kicks in when the intensity of light is too great for the co2 fixation capacity of the photosystems, a damaging state for the plant to be in. when the excitation energy is too great, the energy is dissipated as heat, a process called nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (npq).at high light intensity, npq is a useful process. however, npq at light intensities lower than that which could cause damage to the delicate photosynthetic components results in a reduction in co2 fixation. when a leaf goes from high light intensity to low light intensity, npq reduces accordingly. however, the transition of npq lags behind the transition of the leaf from high to low light intensity, resulting in a temporary reduction in co2 fixation and, therefore, plant growth. earlier research indicated that these losses were in the range ...
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a chromosome conformation capture ordered sequence of the barley genome
editor's summarytriticeae grasses, which include barley, wheat and rye, are widely cultivated plants with particularly complex genomes and evolutionary histories. sequencing of the barley genome has been particularly challenging owing to its large size and particular genomic features, such as an abundance of repetitive elements.nils stein and colleagues of the international barley genome sequencing consortium report sequencing and assembly of a reference genome for barley (hordeumvulgare l). they use a combined approach of hierarchical shotgun sequencing of bacterial artificial chromosomes, genome mapping on nanochannel arrays and chromosome-scale scaffolding with hi-c sequencing.this brings the first comprehensive, completely ordered assembly of the pericentromeric regions of a triticeae genome. the authors also sequenced and examined genetic diversity in the exomes of 96 european elite barley lines with a spring or winter growth habit, and highlight the utility of this resource for cereal genomics and breeding programs.abstractcereal grasses of the triticeae tribe have been the major food source in temperate regions since the dawn of agriculture. their large genomes are characterized by a high content of repetitive elements and large pericentromeric regions that are virtually devoid of meiotic recombination.here we present a high-quality reference genome assembly for barley ...
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rethinking food preparation with collaborative robotics research
the days of labour intensive industrial food preparation could be numbered with the launch of an innovate uk project focused on robotics in food manufacturing. oal (olympus automation ltd.) and the university of lincoln, uk, have been awarded £448,850 to develop innovative april™ robotics material handling systems for food manufacturers. the new project aims to enable a step-change in the adoption of robotics and automation to enhance productivity in the food and drink industry, the uk's largest manufacturing sector. it will be led by engineers from oal in partnership with the university of lincoln.the new one-year project, which is supported by a grant of £448,850 from the uk government via innovate uk and the epsrc's robotics and autonomous systems (ras) research fund, will focus on automating the processes of handling, weighing and transporting the raw ingredients. it will also make strides in developing key hygiene and food safety features which will be crucial when using robotic production systems within the food manufacturing sector.harry norman, managing director of oal, explained: “food manufacturers are facing rising costs and with little opportunity to increase their prices, they are seeking new and effective ways of improving productivity.“throughout the project, we’ll be taking a step-by-step approach, working our way through common operations found acr...
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vector and nonvector insect feeding reduces subsequent plant susceptibility to virus transmission
the interactions of vector–virus–plant have important ecological and evolutionary implications. while the tripartite interactions have received some attention, little is known about whether vector infestation affects subsequent viral transmission and infection.working with the whitefly bemisia tabaci, begomovirus and tobacco/tomato, we demonstrate that pre-infestation of plants by the whitefly vector reduced subsequent plant susceptibility to viral transmission. pre-infestation by the cotton bollworm, a nonvector of the virus, likewise repressed subsequent viral transmission.the two types of insects, with piercing and chewing mouthparts, respectively, activated different plant signaling pathways in the interactions. whitefly pre-infestation activated the salicylic acid (sa) signaling pathway, leading to deposition of callose that inhibited begomovirus replication/movement. although cotton bollworm infestation elicited the jasmonic acid (ja) defense pathway and was beneficial to virus replication, the pre-infested plants repelled whiteflies from feeding and so decreased virus transmission. experiments using a pharmaceutical approach with plant hormones or a genetic approach using hormone transgenic or mutant plants further showed that sa played a negative but ja played a positive role in begomovirus infection.these novel findings indicate that both vector and nonvector insec...
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ahdb potatoes has launched a new website to help combat blight
blight.ahdb.org.uk will allow industry experts to report blight outbreaks more efficiently than ever before.late blight, caused by the pathogen phytophthora infestans, remains the single most important disease for the british potato trade. spreading quickly in the foliage, a typical blight pressure season can cost the industry about £55 million a year in a business-as-usual scenario.understanding uk outbreakswith such a significant impact on the industry, it’s important to respond quickly and raise awareness of the risk associated with its changing strains. as a part of its research into blight populations, ahdb potatoes’ highly successful fight against blight campaign has been redeveloped and modernised to capture more uk blight outbreaks than ever before.fight against blight, which started in 2006, is a sampling service which notifies the industry of outbreaks and risk throughout great britain.anonymous samples are collected from around the country by a team of volunteer blight scouts and sent to fera (food and environment research agency) for initial tests. all positive results are then sent to the james hutton institute for detailed analysis.claire hodge, knowledge exchange manager for ahdb potatoes, said: “the campaign has been highly successful in monitoring the pathogen population and how we compare in terms of strains to other parts of europe.“however, blight a...
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the need for feed | farming futures
why a blog?the farming futures blog is for farmers, land managers and their advisers to discuss and debate the issue of climate change and sustainability in agriculture.we’re interested in how you think we can produce more food for a growing population in the context of government targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hotter, drier summers, higher energy and input prices, and the increased consumer interest in 'low carbon' food.this is your place to take part in the debate. find out why we think a blog is important by clicking here.blogs marked with our weak signals logo explore ideas, trends, technologies or behaviour changes that are as yet unrecognised by the mainstream farming industry. they might have a big impact on future farm practices or they might disappear. they help us to challenge assumptions about the future, navigate risk and seize new opportunities. if you spot a weak signal, get in touch and we'll get it on the site.want to contribute? contact farming futures at [email protected] or phone 01223 342313.
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dairy, horticulture and lowland grazing livestock reports, farm business survey 2015/16.
highlights from the reports include:dairy farming in englandaverage farm business income (fbi) on conventional dairy farms in 2015/16 was £283/ha (£41,318 per farm), whilst on organic farms average fbi was £458/ha (£61,830 per farm)the national herd size increased by approximately 46,000 cows to a level of 1,906,000 cows and returned to a level not seen since 2008/09horticulture production in englandspecialist glass and other horticulture businesses increased profitability by 25% and 18% respectively from 2014/15 to 2015/16, whereas profitability for specialist hardy nursery stock and specialist fruit type businesses fell by 4% and 8% in 2015 the uk was 38% self-sufficient in all vegetables, 18% in all fruit and 51% in all ornamentals, in terms of value lowland grazing livestock production in englandthe average farm business income (fbi) for 2015/16 for the lowland grazing livestock farms in england was £12,049 per farm, a decrease of £6,422 compared to the previous year, the 15/16 fbi represents only 58% of the average of the previous five years and the lowest fbi result within the last 12 years in real terms  there is a wide range in the level of farm business income per farm within the lowland grazing livestock producers. in 2015/16, nearly a quarter had a negative income and 84% had an income of less than £30,00.spring 2017 intelligence report (drawing on contempo...
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yara imageit is free for farmers
yara imageit is a smartphone app designed to measure nitrogen uptake in a crop and generate a nitrogen recommendation based on photographs of the crop. imageit calculates nitrogen uptake based on leaf cover, leaf green color and estimated fraction of brown leaves. the app also generates an intelligent recommendation for adjusting the fertilization program based on measurements.imageit is user-friendly and flexible in terms of technical requirements: it works with low resolution images with a file size as small as 50 – 200 kb. if internet coverage is poor, imageit can save the photos on the smartphone and then send them later for interpretation when reception is back on again.yara has decided to offer the app completely free of charge. up to now, yara has had 25,000 downloads in the whole of europe.the latest version of yara imageit can now be downloaded free of charge on apple, android and windows devices.source: yara
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outdoor herd drives improving sow productivity in 2016
the productivity of the gb breeding pig herd continued to increase last year albeit at a slower rate, according to the latest figures from agrosoft.in the twelve months ending december 2016, the number of pigs weaned per sow per year averaged 24.83 across all herds, 0.45 more than in 2015. this increase occurred despite a rise in pre-weaning mortality relative to the year earlier, returning to 2014 levels.stronger gains were made by the outdoor breeding herd, with pigs weaned per sow per year up 0.68 on 2015 at 22.77. this was attributable to an increase in the number of pigs born alive per litter, and a slight increase in the number of litters per sow. improvements in the productivity of the indoor breeding herd were more modest. pigs weaned per sow per year in 2016 increased by 0.27 to 26.24, driven by a modest (0.19) increase in piglets born alive per litter. however, the twelve month rolling average was higher during the first half of the year, meaning some early gains were lost in the second half of the year, due to the rise in pre-weaning mortality.despite the overall improvements, gb producers still remain behind their main eu competitors according to figures from the interpig group. the eu average during 2015 was 26.81 pigs weaned per sow per year, largely due to the number of piglets born alive per litter being above the uk average. ahdb pork have produced a number of ...
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metrics for sustainable healthy diets: why, what how?
the fcrn and the food foundation have jointly produced new report based on a meeting, held november 2016, on the topic of metrics for sustainable healthy diets for the food industry. while a range of sustainability metrics for this industry already exists, none comprehensively measure the progress (or otherwise) that food companies are taking to foster a public shift towards more sustainable and healthy eating patterns (sheps). the meeting report considers whether further work on such a set of metrics would be of use.while governments have a major role to play in stimulating a shift towards sustainable healthy diets, food companies are the gatekeepers of consumption. the food that companies produce and sell, the way they market them, and at what price, are all crucial influences on what people eat. the report therefore considers whether there is a need to benchmark and track how companies, through their food offer, are fostering or hindering a shift towards more sustainable and healthy eating patterns.  in short, do we need a set of indicators to assess companies’ progress and hold them to account?the report highlights some of the questions that need to be considered when thinking about the role, nature and value of metrics and who their intended target users should be. it provides a detailed overview of one particular potential user: the investment community.  one whole se...
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growing cover crops in organic arable crop rotations: best practices from denmark
reduced soil quality, soil erosion, nutrient losses and high weed pressure are common challenges in arable farming. cover crops can help to overcome these problems. but they are ‘yet another expense’ and might compete with the main crop for water, light and nutrients. thus, successful implementation of cover crops requires knowledge of where in the rotation to grow them, which species to grow, and when and how to manage them. (netarable)growing cover crops solves many of the problems related to arable farming. based on extensive experiences with cover crops in denmark, seges has drawn conclusions for management of cover crops in arable rotations.when sown correctly at the right time, in the right position within the rotation, cover crops retain nutrients, conserve water, prevent soil erosion, improve soil fertility and quality, and suppress weeds.growing cover crops is recognized as a climate-smart agricultural practice. where to position and when to time cover crops in the rotation? grow cover crops in the 1st and 2nd year after ploughing of clover-grass to avoid nitrogen losses.grow nitrogen fixing cover crops on soils with low fertility.sow cover crops into or immediately after the main crop. in row crops, sow the cover crop in combination with the last hoeing. if the harvest of the main crop is rather early, sow the cover crop after harvest.the earlier a cover crop is...
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case study: the land app
the land app is a design tool for land management. digitising the land you manage into one, secure place – with information available at the touch of a button. the product: the land app is a design tool for land management. it allows you to digitise the land you manage, to gather everything into one place, helping you see the overview of what you are managing and enabling you to make more strategic decisions. the land app has been devised as a solution to an overwhelming problem for many land, forestry and estate owners. when deciding when to change or manipulate land or land use activity, it can create a real headache when you have all sorts of information from water networks, building plots, flooding liability to environmental schemes scattered across many different platforms – with people taking ownership of different aspects. the land app simplifies this – it brings everything together, into one place and presents the information in a simple, user-friendly format that multiple users can access. when this information is on paper format, it is far more difficult to share with others, and the whole process for making changes is inefficient and time consuming. we’re in a digital age; we must all embrace technology. similar to the google drive application, the land app concept provides an online platform for collaborative working; a space where multiple stakeholders...
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glyphosate and toxicity: the facts
when it comes to the toxicity of a substance “the dose makes the poison” – just because a chemical is present doesn’t mean it is harmful in the amount present. (nfu)apple seeds, pears, potatoes and courgettes all contain natural chemicals that are toxic to humans but they are only present in very small amounts, well below the harmful dose.ld50 is used as a measurement of toxicity. it is the amount of an ingested substance that kills 50 per cent of a test sample. it is expressed in milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg) and is typically based on oral ingestion in rats. because ld50 is a standard measure, it is used to compare toxicities of compounds – the lower the number, the more toxic something is.source of tables:  http://ei.cornell.edu/teacher/pdf/atr/atr_chapter1_x.pdfsource of blog: nfu
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case study: the land app
the land app is a design tool for land management. digitising the land you manage into one, secure place – with information available at the touch of a button. (rau farm491)the product: the land app is a design tool for land management. it allows you to digitise the land you manage, to gather everything into one place, helping you see the overview of what you are managing and enabling you to make more strategic decisions. ipadthe land app has been devised as a solution to an overwhelming problem for many land, forestry and estate owners. when deciding when to change or manipulate land or land use activity, it can create a real headache when you have all sorts of information from water networks, building plots, flooding liability to environmental schemes scattered across many different platforms – with people taking ownership of different aspects. the land app simplifies this – it brings everything together, into one place and presents the information in a simple, user-friendly format that multiple users can access. when this information is on paper format, it is far more difficult to share with others, and the whole process for making changes is inefficient and time consuming. macwe’re in a digital age; we must all embrace technology. similar to the google drive application, the land app concept provides an online platform for collaborative working; a space where mu...
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crop protection contributions toward agricultural productivity
many rely on just a few to provide food and fiber--and crop protection techniques are a major factor in this essential productivity. but the continued reliance on past methods alone threatens modern-day food security. innovation and a push for the development of integrated plant protection technologies must continue to provide effective, economical, and efficient pest management. (cast: council for agricultural science and technology, ames, iowa)the authors of this cast issue paper examine the current plant protection revolution that is driven by the biological realities of pesticide resistance, various market forces, and real or perceived side effects of pesticides. they point out that `crop protection chemicals have been miraculous, but their automatic use is no longer efficacious or justifiable.` this science-based review considers many plant protection trends, including the following: disease management and the need for new modes of action  insect management and issues involving pesticides weed management and the need for new technologies to control the evolution of resistant weeds  biological control of plant pathogens, insects, and weeds--and the need for further research in these areasseed treatment technology--and its various methods and benefits  nematicide uses shifting from fumigation and banded row applications to seed treatmentsled by task force chair susan...
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preparing farms and estates for brexit
a focus on improving farm management through marginal gains and a willingness to invest and diversify will be key to farms and estates preparing themselves for the brave new world of brexit. (strutt & parker via stackyard)james farrell, head of estate & land management at strutt & parker, says rural businesses will need to embrace change if they are to thrive in the future and now is the time to act.mr farrell says: “that will mean understanding new areas of opportunity, such as natural capital, which has the potential to create valuable new revenue streams for some.“investing in natural capital will involve landowners entering into long-term contracts where they are paid to produce environmental outcomes, such as improved water quality or a reduced flood risk.“we are also on the cusp of a new agricultural revolution, driven by technological advances in which progressive farmers can invest to become more profitable.“smaller farms, which may be undercapitalised and may not have that opportunity to invest, need to think about what they are going to do. joint ventures and new collaborative arrangements will be the key to survival for some.”mr farrell says while estates must consider how they can diversify to fill the void left by an anticipated fall in agricultural income, they shouldn’t ignore the basics of good business management and investment in the core estate.
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research opportunities to improve plant health
this whitepaper reports the deliberations of a workshop focused on biotic challenges to plant health held in washington, d.c. in september 2016.ensuring health of food plants is critical to maintaining the quality and productivity of crops and for sustenance of the rapidly growing human population. there is a close linkage between food security and societal stability; however, global food security is threatened by the vulnerability of our agricultural systems to numerous pests, pathogens, weeds, and environmental stresses. these threats are aggravated by climate change, the globalization of agriculture, and an over-reliance on non-sustainable inputs.new analytical and computational technologies are providing unprecedented resolution at a variety of molecular, cellular, organismal, and population scales for crop plants as well as pathogens, pests, beneficial microbes, and weeds. it is now possible to both characterize useful or deleterious variation as well as precisely manipulate it.data-driven, informed decisions based on knowledge of the variation of biotic challenges and of natural and synthetic variation in crop plants will enable deployment of durable interventions throughout the world. these should be integral, dynamic components of agricultural strategies for sustainable agriculture.specific findings:genetic improvement of crops is the most reliable, least expensive mana...
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nz farmer breeding ultimate high performing low input sheep with a short bare tail
heriot farmer allan richardson is using his long-term market vision to help develop a high performing, low input sheep - topped off with a short, bare tail.inspired by the work of dr david scobie, who at the time was working at agresearch to design the ultimate sheep, richardson decided he wanted to create his own ultimate sheep. in 2004, he began working on the avalon genetics ultimate. `we were already down that track really by default because we had perendales and texels, and we had wiltshires and some of them had the bareness traits that he already had. so for us it was a natural progression,` allan says.when the development began, richardson enlisted the help of scobie to advise. `the short tail wasn't actually on the radar at that stage, it was just the bare belly and the bare bum so we didn't have to dag them. the tail came later because it was just so heritable, and it just made sense.` since the initial trialling there have been many refinements to the sheep. it has been a lot of trial and error,the sheep are made up of a half to five-eighths texel and the remainder is a balance of perendale and a touch of finn.a long-term sight of what the market is going to require, and a desire to combat the fact that farming was not getting any easier or profitable, made richardson want to work towards a solution. `some of the things that we can attack are the things we've ...
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oilseed rape genes transfer from inside to outside of crop fields: study could aid gm risk assessment
this study is one of few to assess the genetic diversity of crops in an agro-ecosystem over several years. researchers analysed the genetic makeup of oilseed rape plants within and outside crop fields over four years. they found similarity between cultivars of field plants in one year and those of feral plants (unplanted) in the following year. they also found persistence of the cultivars within the feral plants, which suggests that feral populations with genetically modified (gm) traits might result from persistent gm traits within field seed banks. the researchers say their findings could aid impact assessments of gm crops.oilseed rape genes transfer from inside to outside of crop fields: study could aid gm risk assessment, ec science for environment policydownloadable files: osr gene transfer
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proposed merger between leaf and face announced
a proposed merger between two of the leading farming and food educational organisations, leaf (linking environment and farming) and face (farming & countryside education), has been announced.the vision for the proposed merger is to increase the impact and capability of the two charities’ work in improving education and understanding of farming, food and the environment.leaf chief executive caroline drummond said: “we are really excited at this opportunity which comes at a time when it has never been more important to demonstrate and state the case for british agriculture. the potential merger offers a real opportunity for our two organisations to work together even more effectively and efficiently to deliver multiple benefits to our partners and stakeholders. the proposed merger will enable leaf to further deepen our public engagement activity and allow the face team to scale up their work, nationally and regionally as the interface between agriculture and schools. such a combination will undoubtedly strengthen the impact of both organisations and improve the public’s understanding of farming, food and the environment.”the proposed merger will serve to combine the strength and expertise of the two organisations, to help drive forward an efficient and effective strategy that will directly improve education in and appreciation of, agriculture and food production.commentin...
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watch out for drains when tackling soil compaction
around 70% of uk pasture is suffering from degradation, with 10% severely compacted, leading to poor grass yields and limiting access to land following rainfall. however, farmers who are considering alleviating such compaction should check the field drains are working first, or they could be wasting their time. (grassland & muck event)grassland and soilaccording to adas experts who will be running the soil and nutrient advice clinic at this year’s grassland & muck event, productive soils need to be both well drained and well structured; the two are closely interlinked. “i go to many sites where people have enough or even more drainage than they really need, but the soil is too compacted for water to pass through to reach the drains,” says kirk hill, drainage specialist at adas. “on the other hand, there is no point subsoiling if the drainage isn’t working; you could cause more damage than you relieve.”the key is to identify where there may be soil or drainage problems, and then take the correct action to alleviate them. signs of compaction or inadequate drainage can include standing water, weeds and poor yields, so farmers should dig a soil pit in these areas, says soil specialist dr paul newell-price. the pit should be at least 60cm deep, and farmers should then look at the soil structure and colour as well as root depth and presence of earth worms. to learn more ...
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ibers over 8 million pounds for research into resilient crops
aberystwyth university’s institute of biological, environmental and rural sciences (ibers) has announced a new £8.8m programme to conduct research into resilient crops. funded by the biotechnology and biological research council (bbsrc), the new programme is part of a new £319 million public investment aimed at helping uk’s biosciences remain globally competitive and able to meet future challenges.professor mike gooding director of ibers said, “this new investment is significant in enabling ibers plant breeding scientists to continue as world leaders with nearly 100 years of experience in the development and use of crops in a changing world.”crop research at ibers includes forage and amenity grasses, clovers, oats, legumes and the energy grass miscanthus. the focus is on developing crop varieties that deliver yield and quality improvements in the face of weather extremes such as drought and flooding, are more resistant to pests and diseases and require less artificial fertiliser. key to these attributes is identifying the genes that bring resilient characteristics and selecting plants for testing in a controlled environment. ibers has the advanced genomics and phenomics facilities that enable rapid development of new varieties.a recent ibers example of crop breeding for resilience delivering public good is that of festulolium. a naturally occurring hybrid between rye...
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could you volunteer for fcn?
while fcn is a national organisation and all volunteers are part of a national network, most volunteers work within a county group, at a local level. volunteers will need good local and regional agricultural knowledge and contacts in order to support clients. each group is led by a coordinator and proactive pastoral care of volunteers who undertake case work is offered by a county group chaplain. volunteers donate their time to fcn, as much or as little every month as they like. you can volunteer in many different ways (the farming community network)ways you can volunteer:caseworkerthe county coordinator will assign you a case appropriate to your experience and in your locality, briefing you as fully as possible, in confidence, about the circumstances of the client. you then arrange a visit and start the “walking with” befriending process, discovering what the issues are affecting the client and working through them together, towards resolution. induction training is provided and a comprehensive handbook is supplied with invaluable information. pastoral support for fcn casework volunteers is always available.helpline volunteera telephone helpline volunteer is often the first point of contact with fcn and empathy, compassion and a clear head to glean information are essential for this role. the helpline volunteer becomes part of a weekly rota and is required to spend a four ...
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ibers £8.8m research into resilient crops
aberystwyth university’s institute of biological, environmental and rural sciences (ibers) has announced a new £8.8m programme to conduct research into resilient crops. funded by the biotechnology and biological research council (bbsrc), the new programme is part of a new £319 million public investment aimed at helping uk’s biosciences remain globally competitive and able to meet future challenges.professor mike gooding director of ibers said, “this new investment is significant in enabling ibers plant breeding scientists to continue as world leaders with nearly 100 years of experience in the development and use of crops in a changing world.”crop research at ibers includes forage and amenity grasses, clovers, oats, legumes and the energy grass miscanthus. the focus is on developing crop varieties that deliver yield and quality improvements in the face of weather extremes such as drought and flooding, are more resistant to pests and diseases and require less artificial fertiliser. key to these attributes is identifying the genes that bring resilient characteristics and selecting plants for testing in a controlled environment. ibers has the advanced genomics and phenomics facilities that enable rapid development of new varieties.a recent ibers example of crop breeding for resilience delivering public good is that of festulolium. a naturally occurring hybrid between rye...
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urbanisation in the spotlight in the ifpri 2017 global food policy report
rapid urbanization, particularly in developing countries, is reshaping food security and nutrition in both rural and urban areas. over half the world’s population now lives in cities, and by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas, with the increase concentrated in east and south asia and africathere is synopsis of the report attached belowthe full report can be accessed heredownloadable files: urbanisation in the spotlight
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how to approach your bank for funding
traditional farming as we know it is constantly evolving. diversification can bring new business activities to your existing farm and can provide a welcome boost to your income, however, that bright idea you have probably needs some initial funding. even the birth of precision farming, which has enabled us to become more efficient, comes at a cost with the requirement for a significant investment in machinery.there are a wide range of finance solutions available but your first port of call will most likely be your bank. as a result, we have asked three specialist agricultural managers, from three well known high street banks, to provide us with their valuable insights on the best ways for agricultural businesses to approach them for funding.the panelsheelagh parrella, agricultural manager, barclayspaul sullivan, senior manager, lloydsjackie mitchell, senior agricultural manager, natwesthow should customers initially approach you for funding and does this always include a face-to-face meeting with their bank manager?paul sullivan: “in an ideal situation there should be an early conversation about whatever it is that the client is looking to fund. there will, of course, be working capital needs that may come out of the blue which may make this difficult. most people would expect that, for any reasonable sized request for funding, there will be a need for a face-to-face meeting ...
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increasing farm profits can reduce food footprints
key performance indicatorsthe drive towards “sustainable intensification” of farming requires more food to be produced using fewer resources, generating smaller environmental burdens. at the product level, this can be measured using various environmental “footprints” that represent environmental burdens expressed per unit (e.g. kg) of food produced. examples include:carbon footprints – emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (co2), methane (ch4) and nitrous oxide (n2o) expressed as co2 equivalents nutrient footprints – use of organic nutrient inputs and inorganic fertiliser applicationsenergy footprints – total use of fossil fuels and other energy carriers, directly (e.g. tractor diesel) and indirectly (e.g. electricity generation, fertiliser manufacture)water footprints – use of rainwater (“green water”), abstracted water (“blue water”) and water required to dilute pollution to acceptable concentrations levels (“grey water”)meanwhile, farmers are being encouraged to measure a plethora of key performance indicators (kpis) in order to benchmark their economic efficiency against similar farm types (see table 1 for examples of data requirements). benchmarking initiatives include:decision support toolsan increasing number of decision support tools have been developed, and are being made freely available online. these tools can help farmers, fa...
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how can anaerobic digestion be economically deployed to maximise environmental benefits?
what is anaerobic digestion?anaerobic digestion (ad) is an organic waste management process that produces biomethane, a versatile source of bioenergy, and biofertilizer (figure 1). recent expansion of ad across europe is being driven by financial incentives for renewable electricity (e.g. feed-in-tariffs) and renewable heat (e.g. renewable heat incentive), and by a tax on landfill. is anaerobic digestion a “green solution”? the economic and environmental performance of ad is strongly dependent on plant size, the type of substrate digested, use of the biomethane and management of the biofertiliser. in a recent research project, we applied life cycle assessment to measure the environmental impacts of ad (e.g. cultivation and transport of feedstocks, emissions from the biogas plants, digestate storage, transport and application) and the environmental “credits” (avoided impacts) arising from diversion of waste streams to ad (e.g. avoided fossil fuel combustion, avoided fertiliser manufacture and application, avoided landfill, etc) (figure 2). we identified possible trade-offs between economic and environmental performance. large-scale biogas plants digesting crops were among the most profitable and efficient in terms of energy conversion, but led to “carbon leakage” through the displacement of food production to other areas. meanwhile, small-scale biogas plants digest...
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