Pesticides and Fertilizers: A toxic relationship that is stressful for frogs

Large-scale agriculture utilizes a myriad of chemicals to increase crop yields and profits. The effects of these chemical mixtures can be unpredictable once they are introduced into the environment, especially when interacting with vulnerable animal groups like amphibians.

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Chocolate beans and Brazilian birds

Global popularity of chocolate has led to intensive cacao bean cultivation, creating far-reaching environmental and social consequences. Agroforestry is a sustainable cultivation method that can reduce environmental impact. It is known to sustain native plants and animals more effectively than monocultures; but how do agroforestry areas compare to pristine forests?

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Farmers vs. Fish: The Story of Delta Smelt

Delta smelt, a small free-swimming fish native to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California, have been portrayed as the catalyst for failing agriculture in the delta region. As an Endangered Species Act-listed species, delta smelt require increased water allocation to maintain low salinity in an already water-starved area, leaving less water for farmers and their crops. In reality, only a small percentage of freshwater outflow to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is being used for fish protection. Through improper management and general disregard for delta smelt recovery, the species is near extinction.

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Can we increase agricultural production without threatening biodiversity?

The world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. This increase in population will put pressure on agriculture to produce more food. Many studies have reported that land-use changes, such as cutting down forest to make new farmland, can lead to a loss in the number of species living in an area, known as the biodiversity. It is important to maintain biodiversity because it supports healthy ecosystems and ultimately a healthy planet. A recent analysis of previously published scientific articles suggests that when farming efforts are intensified, agricultural production increases but the number of species supported by the farm decrease. This means that increasing agricultural production comes at a cost.

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Cover Crops: Good for Water Quality?

Cover crops have been a popular management strategy to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture. However, evidence suggests that some cover crops may in fact release nutrients, instead of keeping them out of the water. One study explores whether five types of cover crops release phosphorus, and how that may impact water quality in the important Great Lakes region.

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Dung Beetles and Soil Bacteria Promote Food Safety.

Having a diverse farm benefits everyone Not only will the soils be richer and the number of different crops grow higher but also diversity may also potentially be safer. By limiting the use of pesticides and maintaining various landscapes throughout a farmland, organic farming increases the number of insects, namely beetles, and bacteria that help break down potential pathogens before they infiltrate the growing crops. Jones and colleagues examined 70 vegetable fields throughout California and conducted several laboratory experiments to find that organic farms had richer, more diverse communities of beetles and soil bacteria that help breakdown foodborne pathogens.

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