The secret’s in the soil: Can soil organic matter protect crops from drought?

Global climate change means that droughts are becoming more frequent and intense in many agricultural areas. Recent evidence suggests that the secret to protecting crops against drought may lie beneath our feet – read on to learn more about how farmers can manage their soil as a way to help protect their crops against droughts!

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Flying on the Edge – Bees use linear features to navigate

Ever noticed how straight roads or the edges of crop fields are? Humans love turning naturally curvy land into straight lines. While land modification poses significant threats to many animals, some can take advantage of these changes. A new study found that bumble bees exploit human-made lines and edges to navigate to food sources. Taking the path most traveled may make all the difference for these bees.

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Using Plants to Protect the Past

A new study found that plants that are culturally significant to Native American tribes are abundant near archeological sites in Bears Ears National Monument suggesting that historical human behavior is still shaping our ecosystems today. Now, we need to use our resources to protect this cultural and ecological legacy and educate others about the history of these ancestral lands.

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Leaving aquaculture ponds ‘out-to-dry’ has implications for nitrous oxide budgets

Researchers from China and the UK have demonstrated that the dormant period of shrimp farming, when aquaculture ponds are drained and left ‘out-to-dry’ for half a year, is associated with increased nitrous oxide emissions. The global aquaculture industry is currently growing at a rate that surpasses most other food sectors, yet the potential climatic impacts from increased greenhouse gas production has implications for the sustainability of this farming system. Through an extended field campaign of nitrous oxide measurements, emissions from the dry-period of aquaculture ponds made up the vast majority of total nitrous oxide emissions. As a previously unaccounted for part of the pond farm greenhouse gas budget, this dry phase of the aquaculture period is too large to be ignored.

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Uncool beans: The future of coffee under climate change

A lot of people would say that a hot cup of coffee is a morning necessity, but a hotter future under climate change could mean trouble is brewing. In this study, scientists examined how rising temperatures might impact the growth of one of the major types of coffee produced in the world.

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To bugs in streams, fine sediment is not so fine

Clearing land for agriculture often leads to decreased flow velocities and in increase in fine sediment additions in nearby streams. While many stream bugs rely on small fine sediments, too much of it can detrimentally affect them. Changes to flow velocities and inputs of fine sediment in affected streams are not always equal in magnitude, so an experiment was run to see the responses of aquatic macroinvertebrates to various combinations of flow and sediment conditions. The scientists found fine sediments negatively impacted almost all stream bugs and that low flows exacerbated the problem.

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Macadamia Farmers Going Nuts Over Birds and Bats

Removing natural vegetation around farms may keep crop predators such as monkeys off farms, but it also can keep away beneficial species of birds and bats that eat common insect pests. Do the services provided by birds and bats outweigh the disservices from monkeys? Researchers ventured into macadamia orchards to try and crack open the answer.

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The Cows and the Bees

In the age of the sixth extinction, we need to think carefully about how we use our land– especially when different land uses are at odds. As a way to advance conservation, researchers in Israel examined “land sharing” of rangelands: a way of using land to benefit agriculture and biodiversity alike.

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