3 Picks: Cover Crops, Farmed Fish, Biotech Sweet Corn


Cover Crops. Photo credit: Dr. Rob Myers

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks and the focus is on California.

1) Statistics show the rapid adoption and increase in productivity with cover crops: For SARE, Rob Myers explains “During the fall of 2012, corn planted after cover crops had a 9.6% increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields were improved 11.6% following cover crops. In the hardest hit drought areas of the Corn Belt, yield differences were even larger, with an 11.0% yield increase for corn and a 14.3% increase for soybeans. Surveyed farmers are rapidly increasing acreage of cover crops used, with an average of 303 acres of cover crops per farm planted in 2012 and farmers intending to plant an average of 421 acres of cover crops in 2013. Total acreage of cover crops among farmers surveyed increased 350% from 2008 to 2012.”

2) More Farmed Fish than Beef: Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney give us the number of tons of production of aquaculture fish versus beef. “The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the first year that people eat more fish raised on farms than caught in the wild.”

3) Herbicide-resistant sweet corn by Monsanto is being introduced: Jeff Ishee tells us “In a recent statement, the company touted the environmental benefits of biotech sweet corn, saying “these products have the potential to create sustainable improvements in sweet corn farming through the better use of resources and less reliance on chemical pesticides.” The company suggests growers will be able to “reduce insecticide sprays up to 85 percent” when compared with traditional sweet corn varieties. Monsanto officials state they have confirmed that “biotech corn, including sweet corn, is as safe as conventional corn.” In addition, John O’Connell, for Capital Press, lists other approved GM food crops. “Today, the list of approved GMO staple crops includes 10 GMO tomato varieties, the NewLeaf potato, sweet corn, rice, a plum, papaya, squash, beets and sugar beets. With a few exceptions, they haven’t seen much commercial use.”

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

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