Most cropland in the United States is characterized by large monocultures, whose productivity is maintained through a strong reliance on costly tillage, external fertilizers, and pesticides (Schipanski et al., 2016). Despite this, farmers have developed a regenerative model of farm production that promotes soil health and biodiversity, while producing nutrient-dense farm products profitably. Little work has focused on the relative costs and benefits of novel regenerative farming operations, which necessitates studyingin situ, farmer-defined best management practices. Here, we evaluate the relative effects of regenerative and conventional corn production systems on pest management services, soil conservation, and farmer profitability and productivity throughout the Northern Plains of the United States. Regenerative farming systems provided greater ecosystem services and profitability for farmers than an input-intensive model of corn production. Pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative farms, indicating that farmers who proactively design pest-resilient food systems outperform farmers that react to pests chemically. Regenerative fields had 29% lower grain production but 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems. Profit was positively correlated with the particulate organic matter of the soil, not yield. These results provide the basis for dialogue on ecologically based farming systems that could be used to simultaneously produce food while conserving our natural resource base: two factors that are pitted against one another in simplified food production systems. To attain this requires a systems-level shift on the farm; simply applying individual regenerative practices within the current production model will not likely produce the documented results.
Chemical pesticides, regardless of their inherent hazard, are used intensively in the fast changing agricultural sector of Ethiopia. We conducted a cross-sectional pesticide Knowledge Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey among 601 farmers and farm workers (applicators and re-entry workers) in three farming systems [large-scale closed greenhouses (LSGH), large-scale open farms (LSOF), and small-scale irrigated farms (SSIF)]. Main observations were that 85% of workers did not attain any pesticide-related training, 81% were not aware of modern alternatives for chemical pesticides, 10% used a full set of personal protective equipment, and 62% did not usually bath or shower after work. Among applicators pesticide training attendance was highest in LSGH (35%) and was lowest in SSIF (4%). None of the female re-entry farm workers had received pesticide-related training. Personal protective equipment use was twice as high among pesticide applicators as among re-entry workers (13 versus 7%), while none of the small-scale farm workers used personal protection equipment. Stockpiling and burial of empty pesticide containers and discarding empty pesticide containers in farming fields were reported in both LSOF and by 75% of the farm workers in SSIF. Considerable increment in chemical pesticide usage intensity, illegitimate usages of DDT and Endosulfan on food crops and direct import of pesticides without the formal Ethiopian registration process were also indicated. These results point out a general lack of training and knowledge regarding the safe use of pesticides in all farming systems but especially among small-scale farmers. This in combination with the increase in chemical pesticide usage in the past decade likely results in occupational and environmental health risks. Improved KAP that account for institutional difference among various farming systems and enforcement of regulatory measures including the available occupational and environmental proclamations in Ethiopia are urgently needed.
This paper aims to examine the dynamics of land transactions, machine investments, and the demand for machine services using farm panel data from China. Recently, China’s agriculture has experienced a large expansion of machine rentals and machine services provided by specialized agents, which has contributed to mechanization of agricultural production. On the other hand, the empirical results show that an increase in non-agricultural wage rates leads to expansion of self-cultivated land size. A rise in the proportion of non-agricultural income or the migration rate also increases the size of self-cultivated land. Interestingly, however, relatively educated farm households decrease the size of self-cultivated land, which suggests that relatively less educated farmers tend to specialize in farming. The demand for machine services has also increased if agricultural wage and migration rate increased over time, especially among relatively large farms. The results on crop income also support complementarities between rented-in land and machine services (demanded), which implies that scale economies are arising in Chinese agriculture with mechanization and active land rental markets.
People believe they experience the world objectively, but research continually demonstrates that beliefs influence perception. Emerging research indicates that beliefs influence the experience of eating. In three studies, we test whether beliefs about how animals are raised can influence the experience of eating meat. Samples of meat were paired with descriptions of animals raised on factory farms or raised on humane farms. Importantly, the meat samples in both conditions were identical. However, participants experienced the samples differently: meat paired with factory farm descriptions looked, smelled, and tasted less pleasant. Even basic properties of flavor were influenced: factory farmed samples tasted more salty and greasy. Finally, actual behavior was influenced: participants consumed less when samples were paired with factory farm descriptions. These findings demonstrate that the experience of eating is not determined solely by physical properties of stimuli-beliefs also shape experience.
- Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
- Published about 4 years ago
Ecological intensification has been promoted as a means to achieve environmentally sustainable increases in crop yields by enhancing ecosystem functions that regulate and support production. There is, however, little direct evidence of yield benefits from ecological intensification on commercial farms growing globally important foodstuffs (grains, oilseeds and pulses). We replicated two treatments removing 3 or 8% of land at the field edge from production to create wildlife habitat in 50-60 ha patches over a 900 ha commercial arable farm in central England, and compared these to a business as usual control (no land removed). In the control fields, crop yields were reduced by as much as 38% at the field edge. Habitat creation in these lower yielding areas led to increased yield in the cropped areas of the fields, and this positive effect became more pronounced over 6 years. As a consequence, yields at the field scale were maintained-and, indeed, enhanced for some crops-despite the loss of cropland for habitat creation. These results suggested that over a 5-year crop rotation, there would be no adverse impact on overall yield in terms of monetary value or nutritional energy. This study provides a clear demonstration that wildlife-friendly management which supports ecosystem services is compatible with, and can even increase, crop yields.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 3 years ago
The emergence of satellite sensors that can routinely observe millions of individual smallholder farms raises possibilities for monitoring and understanding agricultural productivity in many regions of the world. Here we demonstrate the potential to track smallholder maize yield variation in western Kenya, using a combination of 1-m Terra Bella imagery and intensive field sampling on thousands of fields over 2 y. We find that agreement between satellite-based and traditional field survey-based yield estimates depends significantly on the quality of the field-based measures, with agreement highest ([Formula: see text] up to 0.4) when using precise field measures of plot area and when using larger fields for which rounding errors are smaller. We further show that satellite-based measures are able to detect positive yield responses to fertilizer and hybrid seed inputs and that the inferred responses are statistically indistinguishable from estimates based on survey-based yields. These results suggest that high-resolution satellite imagery can be used to make predictions of smallholder agricultural productivity that are roughly as accurate as the survey-based measures traditionally used in research and policy applications, and they indicate a substantial near-term potential to quickly generate useful datasets on productivity in smallholder systems, even with minimal or no field training data. Such datasets could rapidly accelerate learning about which interventions in smallholder systems have the most positive impact, thus enabling more rapid transformation of rural livelihoods.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 4 years ago
We calculated a simple indicator of food availability using data from 93 sites in 17 countries across contrasted agroecologies in sub-Saharan Africa (>13,000 farm households) and analyzed the drivers of variations in food availability. Crop production was the major source of energy, contributing 60% of food availability. The off-farm income contribution to food availability ranged from 12% for households without enough food available (18% of the total sample) to 27% for the 58% of households with sufficient food available. Using only three explanatory variables (household size, number of livestock, and land area), we were able to predict correctly the agricultural determined status of food availability for 72% of the households, but the relationships were strongly influenced by the degree of market access. Our analyses suggest that targeting poverty through improving market access and off-farm opportunities is a better strategy to increase food security than focusing on agricultural production and closing yield gaps. This calls for multisectoral policy harmonization, incentives, and diversification of employment sources rather than a singular focus on agricultural development. Recognizing and understanding diversity among smallholder farm households in sub-Saharan Africa is key for the design of policies that aim to improve food security.
A molecular procedure was developed to detect and quantify larvae of different strongylid parasite species recovered from pasture samples. Two lamb flocks (L and S) grazed separate paddocks with different natural larvae challenges (one low [Paddock L] and one high [Paddock S] challenge) on a commercial farm in Western Australia. Pasture samples were collected and analysed for larvae on 9 separate occasions from each paddock. Pregnant Merino ewes were sampled on 3 separate occasions (2 pre-partum and 1 post-partum). Following lambing, 203 female crossbred lambs were identified, from which faecal samples were collected across five separate samplings. Lamb production and faecal attributes were recorded. Genomic DNA was extracted directly from lamb faeces, in addition to the genomic DNA extracts from strongylid larval species recovered from pastures. Faecal worm egg counts (FWECs) were undertaken. Species-specific qPCRs and conventional PCRs (ITS-2 nuclear ribosomal DNA) were used to screen samples for strongylid species (Teladorsagia circumcincta, Trichostrongylus spp., Haemonchus contortus, Chabertia ovina and Oesophagostomum venulosum). Negative correlations (r(2)>0.91) were found between qPCR C(q) values and log-transformed pasture larval counts for Trichostrongylus spp. and T. circumcincta. Moderate levels of agreement between pasture larval counts and qPCR results were observed (67%). A clear difference in pasture larval challenge levels was observed between the two flocks using both qPCR and conventional pasture larval counts. It is difficult to draw conclusions on the production performances of lambs from the two experimental flocks, as no further replicates were able to be conducted following this experiment. Flock L had higher dressing percentages than Flock S (P=0.038), along with significantly higher faecal consistency and breech fleece faecal soiling scores at successive samplings. The molecular procedures utilised in this study have the potential to be beneficial for livestock grazing management strategies and parasite surveillance, however further investigation is necessary before they can become part of routine diagnostics.
The aim of the study was to determine the occurrence of gastrointestinal parasites in slaughter rabbits managed in small scale farms and under industrial farming system. The research material included intestines and livers of rabbits slaughtered between years 2007 and 2011. The rabbit carcasses submitted to parasitological examination had passed the sanitary veterinary inspection as fit for human consumption. The samples were collected in spring and autumn seasons. The studies showed no effect of a rabbit farming system, season of the year, or differences in an invasion type in each year. The parasitological test recognized exclusively mixed infestation diagnosed in 79.56 % of the studied animals. Parasitological evaluation of the rabbit internal organs identified the invasions of coccidia (78.83 %), nematoda (16.42 %), cestoda (0.72 %), and cysticerci Cysticercus pisiformis (4.74 %). Coccidian invasions found in intestines were dominant, and their prevalence reached 56.48 %, while the hepatic coccidian extensity was markedly lower, i.e., 3.34 % of the examined rabbits. Invasions were characterized by low intensity. The studies recognized invasions of nematoda (Obeliscoides cuniculi, Graphidium strigosum, Trichostrongylus sp., Strongyloides sp., Passalurus ambiguus, Trichuris leporis), cestoda (Mosgovoyia pectinata), and cysticerci C. pisiformis.
The development of cage fish farms has been associated with an increase in parasitic diseases. Organic matter resulting from feed waste and faeces attracts animals such as birds and invertebrates that can act as hosts for parasites. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of cage farming on Austrodiplostomum compactum metacercariae infections of Plagioscion squamosissimus collected close to a cage farm in the Chavantes reservoir (Paranapanema River). Thirty-seven fish were collected in an area close to cages (CF), and 28 in an area not influenced by cages (CT). All specimens were weighed, measured and the eyes removed for morphological analyses of metacercariae. The prevalence, mean intensity of infection, mean abundance and condition factor were calculated. The prevalence (CF = 86.4%, CT = 57.1%), mean infection intensity (CF = 20.31 ± 1.13, CT = 4.29 ± 7.14) and mean abundance (CF = 17.70 ± 6.27, CT = 2.35 ± 0.77) were higher in the CF (P< 0.05) group. There were no significant correlations (P> 0.05) between the mean abundance and standard length or the total weight and condition factor in either group (P> 0.05). Fish farms may interfere with the life cycle of A. compactum, leading to more infections with P. squamosissimus. This could be due to an increase in the number of host animals that are attracted by the availability of food resources derived from fish farms.