World Soil Day Celebrates The Critical Importance Of The Soil

World Soil Day is December 5th, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has organized programs and activities to promote the importance of soil. The quality of the soil is important for human well-being, healthy ecosystems and food security. Soil is the source of life and supplies minerals, vitamins and nutrients necessary for survival.

Of all the food consumed, 95 percent is grown in soil, yet 33 percent of the soil has already been degraded globally. An inch of healthy soli requires 1,000 years to develop, and can be destroyed in a couple seasons. Taking care of the soil is crucial, but industrial agriculture has a different view. The soil is always under pressure from inadequate governance, the pressure of the population and unsustainable intensification. For additional details please visit Your text to link….

Soil is being adulterated with herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides. It has been compacted, stressed, over-tilled, and used for the growth of monoculture crops like soybeans and GMO corn. The soil has reached the stage where the capacity to support life has been compromised and undercut. According to industrial agriculture, soil is a medium for chemical fertilizers, GMO seeds, water and herbicides to produce bio-engineered crops.

Soil is the basis for nutrient rich and healthy fruits and vegetables. The number of micro-organisms in a tablespoon of soil is larger than the number of people currently living. Healthy soil increases the resilience to droughts and floods, and helps mitigate climate change.

On December 5th, and during the year, everyone should think about the importance of the most overlooked resource. A commitment made to World Soil Day supports the farming practices and policies that protect the soil. Steps can be taken in personal and community lives to protect the soil and the earth. Connecting to the soil is as simple as touching it, and recognizing this is what enables the world to support the people who live here, and all the life flowing from the soil.

Puerto Rican Farmers Look To Rebuild After Hurricanes

Puerto Rico’s farmers were devastated by the impacts of both Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Marie. The aftermath of the two hurricanes wiped out almost 80% of the total crop value on the island. Experts forecast that restoring Puerto Rico’s agriculture sector could take anywhere from 10 months to a year or more.

Farmers in Puerto Rico have clearly taken a heavy loss from this year’s hurricane season. One such farmer is Rene Cruz. Before the hurricanes struck the island, Cruz said that he had 68 acres of land under cultivation. Now, he has nothing left. What is devastating for farmers like Rene Cruz is that his family’s livelihood depends on what he can grow and then sell to customers. The only thing that Rene Cruz has left to sell now is a few crops that he managed to salvage such as bruised plantains and some oranges.

A bright side to this story of loss is that the United States Federal Government is stepping up to help farmers such as Mr. Cruz whose farms and livelihood were devastated by the hurricanes. They will be providing disaster assistance money to help pay for the cost of cleanup and to help him purchase new seeds for next year’s crop. Another plus to Rene Cruz was that he managed to have his farm insured. Unfortunately, the cost of damage was so high that the insurance company has refused to pay for all the damages incurred.

A downside to the story is that despite promises of help from the federal government to farmers, many of them have not received any aid. One of the reasons why this has happened is because many of Puerto Rico’s rural and agrarian areas are still without functioning communications network. These farmers have been unable to be in contact with disaster relief officials which has hampered them from receiving aid. As Puerto Rico regains electricity and telecommunications, more and more people should get aid.

A Fascinating study about sheep

A new study has revealed that ewe and rams are able to differentiate one another’s facial expressions. With people, they are not able to differentiate between a happy and unhappy sheep, but according to the study, the animals are able to do that According to researchers at the Scotland Rural College, discovered that facial expressions are important when it comes to affecting the cognitive process of the small ruminants like sheep and goats. The study which incorporated French National Institute for Agriculture Research revealed that sheep can distinguish between negative and neutral facial expressions among themselves. When you compare to other primates, sheep are seen not to have a developed oro-facial musculature, though they are able to show a wide range of facial expressions, more pertaining the ear posture.

Concerning differentiating emotions, it is perceived that if the animals have the ability to perceive emotions in others, then this has an influence on their own emotions. The study was led by Dr. Bellegarde and was published in Frontier in a veterinary science journal. Dr. Bellegarde said that the study indicated that for the inaugural time rams can be able to know and differentiate between what is neutral and negative and facial expressions.

The research covered a range of situations to get reliable results. This saw the exercise photographed sheep in three situations that include sheep’s home, in social isolation and in the social interactions. Then sheep were trained in a simultaneous visual discrimination task. Regarding this, sheep were required to relate one type of the facial expression with a reward. A half of the sheep were assigned with the task of associating the image of a negative facial expression with the reward whereas the other group was to associate the neutral one. At the end of the exercise, all the sheep managed to discriminate the task with the image faces, an indication that sheep are able to discriminate between different facial expressions.

Creating a Sustainable Community on Mars is One Step Closer Thanks to NASA Research

For as long as mankind has ruled the Earth, there has been some type of farming to produce food. The basic necessities are commonly recognized as soil, water, and sunlight in order for a seed to thrive and grow. NASA researchers are working on the ability to create a viable solution for growing plants outside of the Earth’s perfect conditions. The project is called Food for Mars and Moon.

In the study, scientists created used “Mars-like” soil and silver sand and then added a Mars soil stimulant that included manure. The results were exciting, not only were the plants able to grow in what would probably be considered adverse conditions to any traditional farmer, but there was an additional surprise that researchers did not expect but were thrilled to discover. Two earthworms were found in the Mars-like soil. This is the very first recorded example of reproduction in a Mars-like simulation.

The purpose of this study is clear, NASA is planning for a future that may include civilization on our moon or the planet Mars. There are no current known food sources outside of Earth which is the primary concern after breathable air and safe conditions for any interplanetary habitation. Initial testing showed that with the addition of pig manure the Mars-like soil outperformed the silver sand from Earth. This may seem like a small, insignificant result, but it opens the doors to further studies and, possibly, eventual success in farming on another planet.

Project Food for Mars and Moon is self-explanatory. NASA scientists are working to find an effective solution to growing food outside of Earth in unfavorable conditions in order to sustain long-term human life. Initial findings suggest that with the help of a Mars soil stimulant plants can be grown. Further studies will continue research with a special focus on how earthworms were able to reproduce under Mars-like conditions. One day, if a new civilization in erected on another planet these findings will have provided crucial help in long-term sustainability.

Cocoa Farmers Are Finally Receiving Long Overdue Recognition

Cocoa is required for chocolate, yet almost every award for chocolate is given to the end maker. The farmers are responsible for the varieties of crops, yet they are excluded. CoEx brings chocolatiers and experts in sensory analysis together every two years for blind tastings of samples of cocoas. Forty countries in the equatorial belt supplied 166 cocoa samples. Of these countries, eighteen received an ICA award for their skill and effort.

These awards are trying to empower the farmers by celebrating and highlighting the cocoa supply chain. The numerous flavors and the quality come from the knowledge of the farmers, the qualities of the terroir and the post-harvest processing. The variety of tantalizing tastes and smells is vital for production. The farmers are vital because they provide a resistance to outbreaks of diseases and pests, and a resilience to the climatic conditions.

The International Cocoa Awards are like the coffee awards through the Cup of Excellence. The intention of the awards is to help farmers receive a higher price for crops, so they can continue growing cocoa. A lot of time has been spent asking farmers questions as to what would be most helpful, if there was any interest in receiving a loan and if agronomy training would be considered. The response from the farmers was they simply wanted to receive a fair price for their hard work and their cocoa. For more information, please visit Your text to link….

Most cocoa growers are very poor, and the Cocoa of Excellence program is making the effort to help these farmers. Their efforts are effective because during a yearly evaluation survey, 57 percent of the farmers said the program has helped them sell their crops for a premium price. A farmer has the right to equal treatment despite how much land they own. They deserve the same ethical business practices and respect given to the bigger farmers in more highly developed countries. The hope is the work will result in the small farmers receiving recognition as producing some of the best cocoa crops. This in turn may draw the interest of the world’s chocolate makers.

How Agricultural Technology Is Improving Efficiency in Farming

The agricultural technology industry is growing at a very fast pace. Drones are now being used to collect data from farms, and this is proving to be very efficient as drones are fast and not expensive to use. This is also one of the reasons why the number of farmers who are using drone technology is growing by the day. Many companies are gaining interest in the agricultural technology field because of the potential in the industry. Besides drones and robotics, companies are also specializing in smart irrigation and sensors among other categories of agricultural technology.

The developments in the industry are bound to have a huge impact on farming and agriculture all over the world. This is because it will be easier for farmers to collect information about soil conditions, climate, and so much more, which will enable them to make more informed decisions and ultimately result in better produce, both in terms of quality and quantity. Tasks that previously needed several workers and so much time to complete can now be done in less time and without the need for so many workers.

Farmers will, therefore, be able to make huge savings on labor costs thanks to the advancements in agricultural technology. This is especially so for very big farms which can be difficult to manage if everything is done manually. All farm activities will be streamlined and everything will be done much more efficiently with agricultural technology. Some of the equipment that is already being used by farmers all over the world includes automatic planters and automatic harvesters.


Farmers are already enjoying the immense benefits of advancements in agricultural technology. With more companies joining the field, things are only bound to get better. And everyone will benefit from this because the quality of produce will improve and the cost savings will definitely be passed on to consumers.

The Future Of Agriculture May Be Through Vertical Farming

Due to modern technology, a twenty-foot farm currently exists inside a climate-controlled cylinder. Despite the fact this sounds exactly like science fiction, the concept is real. Instead of the typical farm requiring acres and acres, farms of the future will be contained inside light-controlled and climate-controlled cylinders. These farms have the capability to grow strawberries and lettuce. They additionally require less water and land, light is provided throughout the year and the necessary moisture is perfectly controlled.

Plenty is the company in California who developed this concept. Last week they announced they are planning to open a farm in Kent, Washington encompassing 100,000 square-feet. The farm will be just south of Seattle, and the intention is to grow backyard quality and pesticide free produce for their regional customers. This is the first full-scale farm established by this startup. For more details regarding this venture, please visit Your text to link….

All the vegetables, fruits and plants will be growing inside towers twenty-feet tall. These towers will consist of LED lights and a climate-controlled facility. Plenty will not be using any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMO’s or herbicides within these towers. Their alternative is thousands of sensors and infrared cameras to collect data. The data will then be analyzed so the optimization of the plants growth can be assured.

According to Plenty, their technology has a yield as high as 350 times more than traditional agriculture. They use hardly any land and only one percent of the water necessary for conventional methods of agriculture. These facts were released in a company press release. This is a lot more than wishful thinking because Plenty has numerous savvy investors including the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. He recently took over Whole food for an investment of $14 billion. Although it is not currently on a large scale, hydroponic farming currently exists. Research shows the future of global agriculture may be hydroponic farming. The company believes this combines the benefits of high yields and local outdoor farming.

Drones: Farm Implement Of The Future That Is Here Now

Farming has long been associated with machines like tractors, plows, cultivators and combines – but high-tech drones which fly over fields may soon become as indispensable to modern agriculture as traditional farm implements.

It starts with something called “precision agriculture.” This a farm management concept that relies heavily on observing crops, fields and soil from the air – from space-based satellite imaging — but now also increasingly using data gathered from low-flying drones.

Aerial sensing with drones can provide farmers with an amazing amount of information about what is going on with the make-up and content of soil, but also the progress of crops as they grow week-to-week.

Japan has already been using drones for years to manage rice crops. Farmers in the United States are just beginning to catch on to this way of gathering information about land and crops. The payoff can be truly astounding.

For example, the fertility of a given field of soil can vary widely in terms of where fertilizer is concentrated as opposed to where soil is depleted. Using remote sensing with enhanced drone imaging techniques, farmers can now stop wasting fertilizer application where it is not needed and concentrate on those areas that do.

The standard practice for farmers has been to simply spread the same amount of fertilizer across an entire field. But now a view from above can easily show how inefficient and wasteful the old “blind” way applying fertilizer has been.

That’s just one example of how sending drones out over fields can “harvest” vast amount of knowledge that enable operators to work more efficiently.

Other uses of drones include monitoring fields for areas of weed proliferation throughout the growing season. This allows pinpoint methods to attack weeds only where they are a problem. Another use of drone-enabled sensing it to keep track of insect predation and plants diseases, such as wheat scab or various other fungal infections common to crops.

Farming has always been a labor of the land — but now it’s taken to the air, as well.

Farming With No Insurance

Agriculture is a very important part of our society. It is what helps to create crops and many other things that we use every single day. Farming takes a lot of hard labor and a lot of time, and farmers expend a lot of their time and energy to conserve their farms. People who own farms use that as their source of income. They have an abundant amount of animals in which they take care of on the farm, and use in order to get food resources.

Because the farmers use this as their main source of income, it is hard for them to get and maintain health insurance. Most families obtain health insurance by working for a corporation full time, and because farmers are self-employed they carry the burden of purchasing health insurance on their own. This is the reason that most farmers operate without health insurance. They make sure to at least carry insurance on their farms, tools, and livestock.

With the life of a farmer being such a risk, the insurance is more expensive as well. Farmers have to work with very dangerous equipment every day. If a farmer gets severely injured or ill, it is very possible and likely that he and his family will lose the farm. Because this is a known issue among the farming community, the government created something to try and help called the Affordable Care Act. This act provided different and new options of insurance for the farmers to choose from, while being more affordable than it was in the past. However, the Affordable Care Act is still not as affordable as most farmers would like. This act is an excellent advancement towards what farmers need, and shows promise for the future that farmers will be able to obtain the coverage they need, and keep their farms.

US Farming Standards Bleed Over To UK

When you think of farming you most-likely get that perceived notion of wide open fields that pioneered the use of rearing livestock, but according to Reddit, an online report published on theGuardian, that vision you have has drastically changed.

Annually, more and more animal facilities are currently being built or existing ones extended. The argument for these mega-farms is that consumers can benefit from lower prices, but animal welfare groups say the devil is in the details.

Modernized farming or “factory farming” opened the doors to lots of problems like mass breeding, growth promoters, and the overuse of antibiotics given to animals. According to a spokeswoman for Compassion in World Farming, Emma Slawinski, “Antibiotics are regularly fed to livestock via food and water to decrease the risk of disease.” In fact, antibiotics became more of a prophylactic use to wipe out any diseases among livestock, however, its overuse made bacteria more resistant. Over the years, multi-resistant bacteria has popped up. And problems can fall through the cracks, like sick livestock, because rarely are individual animals treated. If a chicken, pig or cow falls ill in the pen, with a resistant disease, it may not show obvious signs of illness which can be transferred.

Now, European countries are worried that foreign trade pressures could force British farmers to adopt US farming practices, opening the door to lower standards. The Guardian reports that there are approximately 789 factory farms in the UK, and most are owned and operated by foreign multi-corporations. After Brexit, the UK agricultural businesses were open to customs rules of the World Trade Organization. This caused a disruption to the 800 or so European laws covering wildlife, water quality, agriculture, and fishing, that must be transposed into national law. The removal of farming subsidies and labor shortages have contributed to the UK adopting many US agricultural standards. And while the British government maintains they will protect animal welfare to uphold public confidence, things have already begun to change.