The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog, https://dineshpanday.wordpress.com.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.
Fertile Soil Doesn’t Fall from the Sky: Contribution of Bacterial Remnants to Soil Fertility Has Been Underestimated Until Now
Dec. 14, 2012 — Remains of dead bacteria have far greater meaning for soils than previously assumed. Around 40 per cent of the microbial biomass is converted to organic soil components, write researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Technische Universität Dresden (Technical University of Dresden) , the University of Stockholm, the Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie (Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology) and the Leibniz-Universität Hannover (Leibniz University Hannover) in the journal Biogeochemistry.
Until now, it was assumed that the organic components of the soil were composed mostly of decomposed plant material which is directly converted to humic substances. In a laboratory experiment and in field testing the researchers have now refuted this thesis. Evidently the easily biologically degradable plant material is initially converted to microbial biomass which then provides the source material to soil organic matter.
Soil organic matter represent the largest fraction of terrestrially bound carbon in the biosphere. The compounds therefore play an important role not only for soil fertility and agricultural yields. They are also one of the key factors controlling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climatic change can therefore be slowed down or accelerated, according to the management of the soil resource.
In laboratory incubation experiment, the researchers initially labelled model bacteria with the stable isotope 13C and introduced the bacteria to soil deriving from the long-term cultivation experiment “Ewiger Roggenbau” in Halle/Saale. Following the incubation time of 224 days the fate of the carbon of bacterial origin was determined. “As a result we found fragments of bacterial cell walls in sizes of up to 500 x 500 nanometres throughout our soil samples. Such fragments have also been observed in other studies, but have never been identified or quantified,” declares Professor Matthias Kästner of the UFZ. The accumulation of the bacterial cell wall fragments appears to be supported by peptides and proteins from the liquid interior of the cells, which remain to a greater extent in the soil than other cell components. These materials enable the formation of a film of organic molecules on the mineral components of the soil, on which the carbon from the dead bacteria is accumulated and stabilised.
When the fragments of the bacterial cell walls dry out, they may lose their rubber-like properties and can harden like glass. If the soil subsequently becomes moist again, however, under certain circumstances they cannot be re-wetted — an important prerequisite for their degradation by other bacteria. This would provide the simplest explanation for the stabilisation of theoretically easily degradable carbon compounds in soil. “This new approach explains many properties of organic soil components which were previously viewed as contradictory,” says Matthias Kästner. In the late 1990s, Kästner and his team arrived at this idea on the basis of earlier investigations on the degradation of environmental contaminants like anthracene in polluted soils of former gas work sites. In these investigations, isotopic analyses revealed bound carbon residues which have been of bacterial origin. With the support of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG), from 2000 on they began to follow up this clue within the scope of two joint research programmes.
Following the laboratory experiment, the hypothesis was tested in field research. In summer of 2009 the researchers took soil samples in the forefield of the Damma Glacier in the Swiss Canton Uri. In the course of the last 150 years glacier has retreated by around one kilometre. In its place granite rock remained behind, which was gradually recolonised by living organisms accompanied by soil development. Following the formation of new soil the first plants, such as mosses and grasses, were followed by bushes and, later, also by trees. In the meantime, the Damma Glacier, on which a broad range of studies is being conducted, has therefore become an important outdoor laboratory not only for climate researchers, but for ecologists as well. The soil investigated with the samples was between 0 and 120 years old and thus allowed insight into early processes of soil development. Scanning electron microscopic investigations which followed at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen also indicated that the covering of the soil mineral particles by a film composed of bacterial cell wall residues had increased with the soil age. The results of the outdoor investigations therefore confirmed the hypothesis and the laboratory results. This new knowledge was ultimately made possible by recent advances in scanning electron microscopy, which in the meantime enable the identification and evaluation of the soil nano-components.
The predominant share of the plant debris in fertile soil is thus rapidly processed by micro-organisms, e.g. bacteria, leading to more bacteria and, in turn, also to more cell fragments. This then results in more organic material in the soil. “Even though the greatest part of the organic carbon in the eco-systems is definitively produced primarily by plants, we were able to show that a large part of the organic material is actually composed of residues of bacteria and fungi. This underscores the importance of bacteria as organisms in all types of soil,” summarises Matthias Kästner. Furthermore, they are important for the global climate: The degradation of these organic material results, in mineralisation products and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). According to estimates from Great Britain the amount of CO2 escaping annually to the atmosphere due to the degradation of organic material in the soils of England and Wales is in the order of magnitude by which greenhouse gas emissions are annually reduced there. This means that no rigorous progress in climate protection may be accomplished without first protecting the soil.
When you picture a United Nations conference, you probably don’t imagine 600 young people dancing in the aisles. But from the beginning, it was clear that the ICPD Global Youth Forum was not your typical conference. The forum – led by young people, for young people – brought together youth leaders, and representatives from civil society, the private-sector and government, from around the world to learn, deliberate, and make recommendations around five key issue areas: staying healthy, comprehensive education, employment, family and youth rights (including sexuality) and leadership.
We gathered in Bali for the Global Youth Forum as part of the ICPD review process, following up on the historic objectives laid out at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. The ICPD agenda was important because it clearly demonstrated the connection between advancing the health and rights of young people, particularly reproductive health and rights, and achieving sustainable global development.
Nearly twenty years later, 43 percent of the world’s population is now under the age of 25. Yet, despite their huge stake in the future, the thoughts and concerns of youth have often gone unheard by global leaders. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recognized that not only do youth have the right to be heard in development debates, but they also have bright and creative insights into how to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. This unprecedented forum gave youth the opportunity to have their voices heard at the highest levels: recommendations from the conference will be included in the Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly in 2014, and will be taken into consideration for the UN’s post-MDG development agenda in 2015.
From the first day of the forum, it was clear that these young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they’re the leaders of today. They shared their personal stories and the stories of young people from their countries. While there was talk of the world’s most critical problems, the conversation was largely uplifting and positive, primarily centering on innovative solutions. Although it was a diverse coalition with a wide array of life experiences, several themes emerged. In particular, we heard over and over the need for accessible, confidential and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health education and services.
To ensure that every young person could be heard, UNFPA utilized technology and social media to allow more than 2,800 virtual delegates from 126 countries to participate in the forum and submit their recommendations on the five issue areas. The virtual delegates actively told their personal stories, and contributed more than 600 recommendations. The forum’s Twitter hashtag, #ICPDYouth, trended in several countries, creating a global conversation.
At the end of the three days, the delegates gathered in the conference room and social media was buzzing, anxiously awaiting the reveal of the final outcome document. Cheers erupted as the final outcomes were read. The message was clear: universal access to sexual and reproductive health education and services must be a top priority. Additionally, the document called for governments to prioritize free and accessible comprehensive education, the elimination of harmful traditional practices and gender-based violence, and the appointment of a UN Special Advisor on Youth. You can read all of the outcomes here.
As we capped off the day with a musical performance from world-renowned DJ, Avicii, the excitement was palpable. Everyone in the room knew they had been part of something truly special: not only the start of a global conversation, but the start of a global youth movement.
The youth have spoken, and now we need to listen. Let’s take this tremendous energy from the Global Youth Forum, and turn these recommendations into actions!
Call for Application: SANDEE LUMS Research and Writing Workshop in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) are jointly organizing a Research and Writing Workshop in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics in March 2013 in Lahore. The aim of this workshop is to build research capacity in the area of environment and resource economics. The workshop will provide an opportunity for Pakistani researchers interested in the field of environmental and natural resource economics to become more familiar with research concepts and techniques. It will also familiarize them with research in South Asia being undertaken by LUMS and SANDEE researchers. International and local experts will conduct the workshop.
The workshop will provide practical training where participants themselves have to develop concept notes into research proposals under the guidance and assistance of resource persons. A total of 12-14 participants will be invited so that close attention can be given to each researcher’s proposal. Participants will initially present their research concepts to peers and receive comments. Reading some new research papers and informal consultation with the experts for revisions will follow this. The candidates will have to present a modified version of the research concept again, which will help them to shape a complete proposal for submitting to SANDEE.
This workshop is only for Pakistani Researchers who are working and living in Pakistan.
- A background in Economics with a Masters Degree and two years of research or teaching experience is essential. Candidates with PhD are encouraged.
- Interest in research and teaching related to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
- Mid-career and young applicants are encouraged to apply
- Quantitative skills and previous research experience would be helpful
Requirements for Application
- Apply with a short CV [no more than two pages] and a cover letter expressing research interest
- A three page concept note [as per the guidelines] should be submitted
- Key research topics for the concept note: Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Pollution Management, Forestry and Fisheries, Resources and Protected Area Management, Economic Incentives and Policy Instruments for greener growth and environmental management.
- Apply directly to email@example.com with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3rd January 2013.
The quality of the concept note will be the main criteria of candidate selection for the workshop.
Submission Deadline 3rd January 2013
Post Source: www.sandeeonline.org
By World Business Council for Sustainable Development
The magnitude of the world’s food security challenge is well documented. By 1950 the world’s population had reached two and a half billion people. In October 2011, it had nearly tripled to seven billion people and by 2050, we can expect it to surpass nine billion people. In order to feed this population, it is estimated that global food production will need to increase by some 70%.
This is a tremendous challenge which is further exacerbated by existing constraints such as erratic climatic conditions, limited farmland availability, scarcity of natural resources as well as lack of infrastructure and finance.
In recent years, the dialogue around food security has increased and gained traction. However, to facilitate positive and productive collaboration and action between governments, the private sector and other key stakeholders, tools are required that can help the multitude of players turn dialogue into action.
One such tool is the Rice Bowl Index, which is designed to assess the robustness of a country’s food security system. Initially focusing on 14 countries across Asia-Pacific, the tool’s unique feature is that it captures the complexity of food security through a multi-dimensional approach and reduces this complexity into user-friendly charts and tables. These provide a platform for discussing potential action to address the challenges. The tool serves as a common language for different stakeholders to engage in purposeful dialogue leading to solutions-oriented action.
Conceived by Syngenta, the Rice Bowl Index is the result of more than two years of planning and consultation with inter-governmental organisations, food and agriculture companies, non-governmental organisations, multi-disciplinary experts, academia, civil society groups and media. Consisting of a quantitative and a qualitative component, the quantitative component is a modular diagnostic platform examining the key enablers and disablers of food security, built on Frontier Strategy Group’s MarketView Platform. The Rice Bowl Index defines these enablers as demand and price; environmental factors; farm-level factors; and policy and trade. The qualitative component is a white paper authored by Professor Paul Teng, one of Asia’s leading food security experts.
By moving from the ‘talking’ stage towards a solutions-focused dialogue, the Rice Bowl Index has generated a great amount of interest, and has successfully highlighted the importance of a system-wide integrated approach in managing the key enabling and disabling factors of food security. Furthermore, the initiative has raised the understanding that, due to the multidimensional complexities of food security, collaboration is essential in order to affect change that is sustainable in the long term.
But it cannot stop there. The road to food security has many different routes, and this means action must take place between governments, the private sector and other key stakeholders all across the world. Whilst the Asia-Pacific region, home to over 60% of the world’s population and some of the world’s fastest growing economies, is the current focus of the Index, such a tool can be applied to other regions too. Concertedly, we can shift the dialogue from discussing the extent of the problem to forging the solutions needed to address the food security challenge: translating complexity into an opportunity for action.
Post Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/move-food-security-debate-to-solutions and for more details: http://www.wbcsd.org/home.aspx
By Keith A Wheeler
Unfortunately for the agriculture community, there was little progress in improving the prospects for addressing climate change challenges at the18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) that concluded in Doha last week.
All farmers, no matter their size, depend on the weather to the grow crops that feed the world, while providing a livelihood for their families and communities. This makes them among the most vulnerable to the changing climate. By 2050, if farmers are not assisted to meet these changes, agriculture yields will decrease with impacts projected to be the most severe in Africa and South Asia, with productivity decreasing by 15% and 18% respectively. Therefore, strategies to adapt to the significant shifts in weather patterns are greatly needed.
Furthermore, agriculture today accounts for 14% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with another 17% attributed to land use change linked to deforestation. Concerted action must be taken to empower farmers with the knowledge, practices and technologies needed to adapt and reduce agriculture’s contribution to global warming.
At COP 18, leading experts from around the globe offered case studies and solutions that focused on synergistic strategies to enable farmers to adapt and preserve yields to feed a world of nine billion, while providing the conservation benefits that can contribute to mitigation. Central to these discussions were identifying scalable solutions.
Amidst these colossal challenges there is hope. The agriculture community is in a strong position to achieve the win-win scenario of both adapting to, and addressing, the underlying causes of climate change – particularly if identifying these win-wins is a focus from the onset. We know this, because it has been done before. For those of us who remember the global food security crisis in the 1950s and 60s, when millions of people in Asia were on the brink of famine, we know that the promotion of technologies that utilise water efficiently and access to new high-yield seed varieties, not only increased productivity, but also reduced historical agricultural emissions by nearly a third.
The same is possible today. The production advances in the global food supply chain achieved over the past 40 years were based to a high degree on “climatic certainty”, which there no longer is. The challenge now lies in how to manage the increased risk of rapid weather pattern shifts and disruptions to water availability.
Technological innovations are at the forefront of meeting the world’s growing food demands, while reducing carbon emissions. High tech methods such as Precision Agriculture, for example, calculate the exact amount of fertilizer required by the soil on your farm, preventing over application and the release of unnecessary greenhouse gases, while simultaneously improving yields.
Other practices, such as integrated pest management and pest information systems, improved training for farmers at all levels and new finance and risk management tools for smallholder farmers will all go a long way to building more resilient food systems.
The thread that ties all of these innovations together is greater access for farmers to research, information and extension. A new tool, my organisation Field to Market presented at Agriculture Day in Doha, theFieldprint Calculator, offers a good example of a scalable solution that uses supply chain co-operation and smart application of information technology to put data in the hands of farmers so they can see how operational decisions impact the overall sustainability performance of their farms. The calculator is an online tool farmers can use to build scenarios about decisions that affect their current land use, energy use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil loss compared with state and national averages. The tool has demonstrated to farmers that the decisions they make don’t have to be either/or. They do not have to sacrifice their productivity in the name of sustainability – they can achieve both goals.
Public-private partnerships with farmers as stakeholders at the table can also be fruitful. They can develop tools grounded in the best science and technology to achieve continuous improvements in productivity, environmental quality, and human well-being across the agricultural supply chain.
Some 70% of the potential for mitigating climate change is in developing countries. If tools such as the Fieldprint Calculator were able to be scaled up and taken to global audiences, farmers would be empowered to make better, more sustainable decisions that will improve their productivity, and reduce their impacts on the planet and its climate.
Although the negotiations in Doha did not advance agriculture’s standing sufficiently with regard to climate change challenges, the agriculture community is committed to continuing to create a portfolio of solutions that build climate resilient food systems. The solutions exist, and they are being put into practice, building the pathway to food security in a world of climate uncertainty.
Keith A Wheeler is chairman and CEO at ZedX Inc. Post Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/building-resilient-food-systems-climate
Call for Papers: Frontiers in Conservation Agriculture in South Asia and Beyond, Kathmandu; 26- 27 March, 2013
The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), along with co-organizers Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), and the Nepal Agriculture and Forestry University, invites you to an international conference entitled “Frontiers in Conservation Agriculture in South Asia and Beyond (F-CASA)” to be held on March 26-27, 2013 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The conference will highlight recent findings and current research on conservation agriculture in South Asia and beyond, with an emphasis on presenting interdisciplinary scientific knowledge that incorporates the agricultural, economic and social sciences.
Call for Papers
Researchers and practitioners are encouraged to submit four page proposal papers that analyze the impact of conservation agriculture production systems on rain-fed farming systems with respect to economic returns, adoption, soil improvement, productivity enhancement, gender equity, social and institutional challenges, food security, nutrition and rural development, or other related topics.
Proposal papers will be due January 31, 2013, with final papers, if accepted, to be due March 15, 2013. Abstracts and papers from the conference will be published in a peer-reviewed proceeding. For select papers, agreement will be sought for publication in a special issue in an international journal or in a book on conservation agriculture in South Asia and beyond.
If interested, please read over the attached call for papers. Questions regarding the conference or the call for papers should be directed to:
Dr. Catherine Chan-Halbrendt
Natural Resources and Environmental Management
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA
For more details, download an attachment F-CASA-Call_for_papers.
Post Source: http://www.forestrynepal.org/event/5760
by TN Anuradha and Vinaynath Reddy; 17th December 2012
Earlier this year the seasonal rains in Bihar, India failed to deliver, leading to big losses in both wheat and rice crops. Luckily, some farmers in the area had signed up for a crop insurance scheme which now allowed them to receive their first payment. This scheme has helped some of them get back on track and invest in new seeds.
“We did not have any scheme under crop insurance earlier,” said participating farmer Horil Singh, now “we have benefitted from the scheme. If there is a deficiency in crop yield we will get cover as per index of loss.”
The insurance scheme is part of the Climate Smart Village project (CSVs), being set-up in three villages in the Vaishali district, by the CCAFS South Asia program. The aim is to better arm farmers for more variable weather patterns through climate smart practices. Read more: “What’s so smart about climate smart agriculture?”
Climate insurance programs can help farmers manage risks better, enabling them to invest and take chances that they would otherwise avoid. This could in turn improve their livelihood.
Offered by the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Co-operative and Tokio General Insurance (IFFCO-Tokio) more than 200 farmers have signed up for the insurance program.
In relation to the insurance payouts, a series of videos were prepared to capture the farmer’s feedback on technological interventions under CCAFS South Asia activities along with the ViDocs Bigg Shift Communications team.
One farmer who joined the payment meeting was impressed with the climate smart village activities during the last season. “With the introduction of short-duration mung-bean variety of Pusa Visal, which was given to us, our income has improved,” he told the filming crew.
In another village, the team met a self-help women’s group involved in vegetable farming. The members had been receiving information about the climate smart agricultural interventions being introduced to some farmers. Group-member and farmer Mamta Kumari commented that not enough opportunities were given to women but “through various initiatives [of CCAFS], we have received encouragement to do farming on our own. We have taken crop insurance, and have benefited from it,” she explained.
Through the many different climate smart activities, such as introducing the mung-bean and distribution of suitable wheat varieties for this region, they all had helped the South Asia program step by step win the farmers’ trust. In addition, with intensification of cropping system, farmers of CSVs are not just reaping rich harvests but also get decent profits by producing three different crops in a year.
It is therefore understandable that more and more farmers in the areas are joining the climate smart village activities as the efforts are now paying off.
Watch Video on the Payouts to Indian farmers:
Research into the feasibility of feeding insects to poultry has shown that a number of insect taxa including silkworms, locusts, fly larvae, crickets and grasshoppers can be safely fed to chickens without compromising the quality and palatability of the meat.
However, this review examines this issue in greater depth by reviewing current literature and through discussions with the poultry farmers in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, Australia.
A survey of poultry farmers found an acceptance of feeding insect to poultry provided it could be done economically and indicated that insects could be reared and fed on a variety of organic waste materials which are available in adequate amounts in different regions.
The technique of feeding insects to poultry will be beneficial in developing agriculture based recycling systems, reducing waste and potentially aid in reducing environmental pollution. Depending on the insect species and whether the diet of insects is fed to meat producing or egg laying birds it will likely need to be supplemented with either or both calcium and limiting amino acids to meet the chicken’s dietary requirement. The safety and economic viability of breeding and rearing insects on organic wastes and feeding to poultry needs to be assessed.
In order to be economically feasible, the overall cost of rearing and feeding insects to poultry needs to be lower than the cost of feeding conventional protein sources like grains and soybean meal. The technique of feeding insects to poultry needs to be able to be easily adopted and readily adaptable by the industry to a range of farming systems.
Further research needs to investigate these issues in more detail both by establishing small experiments and developing production models which include insects reared ‘onsite’ in the poultry diet.
Read the original article: http://www.allaboutfeed.net/Nutrition/Raw-Materials/2012/12/Australian-review-Using-insects-in-poultry-feed-1132609W/?cmpid=NLC|AllAboutFeed.net|20-dec-2012|Australian%20review:%20Using%20insects%20in%20poultry%20feed and this was taken as an abstract from the World’s Poultry Science Association’s Journal.