Below, is a selection of recent agriculture-related news.
Australian farmers are quitting or digging into a deeper debt hole after too many drought years and high costs to plant crops. This bad condition hasn’t been seen since the 1930s, they say.
“The price of our inputs are going up faster than the price of our products or our income and the way we’ve managed to get around that is to produce more and more off every hectare,” he said. “Now especially in the eastern Wheatbelt, but not just the eastern Wheatbelt, we’re finding that yields are dropping because of these drier years and we’re now in a deficient situation.”
According this CSM piece, Japan is reforming its agriculture system since Fukushima. They are consolidating the use of equipment and land, and using some indoor farming methods.
Jon Entine, for Forbes, wrote about the GMO debate going on in the media.
In Egypt, flour and sugar are 50 percent more expensive than they were a year ago.
Graphene may make desalination more affordable, requiring far less energy.
Here’s an article from the Economist on very long term commodity prices, starting out with a mention of Paul Ehrlich.
Africa’s food systems, currently valued at US $313 billion a year from agriculture, could triple if governments and business leaders radically change their policies and support to agriculture, farmers, and agribusinesses, which together account for nearly 50 percent of Africa’s economic activity.
The WSJ writes that the USDA may buy 400,000 tons of sugar as a bailout to borrowers in the industry.
This is a good historical article about the use of nitrogen fertilizer. “80 percent of the global increase in consumption of nitrogen fertilizers between 2000 and 2009 came from India and China.”
Canada, Germany and the US have historically been major suppliers of milling wheat to Saudi Arabia, although all three have been eclipsed so far in 2012-13 by Lithuania and Poland. Saudi Arabia has this season ordered its first soft wheat imports, for food use, in more than three decades. Saudi Arabia’s efforts to save water are being fuelled by population growth which is supporting demand for water, and requiring supplies to be met increasingly from expensive desalinated supplies. The desert kingdom’s largest bank, National Commercial Bank, earlier this month said that demand for desalinated water had being rising by more than 6% a year, more than twice the rate of population growth.
This writing by Cindy Baxter tells of the ironies in Australian policy which are affecting the future of agriculture there, and everywhere.
A baseball-sized snail with an insatiable appetite for hundreds of plants including cocoa and papaya has been seized and destroyed by Australian officials.
David Brooks writes that it is the stalwarts that do real work who are changing the world, not the hot shots who promote themselves. Of course, Ag gets a mention.
Most of Idaho’s dairy farm workers are illegal immigrants.
ENERGY: Japan is tapping off-shore methane hydrates and the world is watching.
CGIAR is having farmers test wheat and other crop seed varieties to see which do the best in adapting to climate change.
There is terrible bickering behind the scenes of the farm bill negotiations.
Alarming U.S. population graph here. It helps out our fiscal situation, however, because it keeps us growing. Growth. Growth. Growth. (Click on “max” at the site as it won’t let me link directly to the longest time period.)
BONUS: I recommend that you visit this Australian Ag site which has interesting short videos on methods, horticulture, cropping, etc., and more.: Digital Farm TV.
BONUS: Iowa Fashion week coverage over at THE ONION.
BONUS: Stewart Brand’s TED talk on bringing back species that are extinct. (They are working on the passenger pigeon.)
Written and compiled by K. McDonald.