Double Threat: Toxic Arsenic and Climate Change Plummet Rice Production

Half of the world’s population depends on rice. We’ve studied how rice will respond to predicted changes in climate. But do we know how it will also interact with one of its most common pollutants? Researchers study how rice responds to the dual stressors of both climate change and arsenic, and ultimately find that arsenic may be the stressor we should be worried about.

Read more

Streamside Vegetation Can Capture Pesticides

Blueberries and other crops are being impacted in the Pacific northwest by a new invasive species. Pesticide use to combat this problem may impact nearby aquatic life. Researchers studied agriculture areas with and without woody vegetation along stream banks to understand if they could play a role in keeping pesticides out of streams. Sites with woody vegetation reduced 96% of pesticide measured in the stream on average compared to sites without. Increasing woody vegetation next to streams could help farmers fight off invasive species while still protecting water quality.

Read more

Friend or foe? Invasive earthworms can benefit agriculture but harm forests

Earthworms are welcome guests in the garden, but it’s a different story in the forest. By consuming and removing leaf litter too fast they set in motion complex cascades of ecological changes, with long-term negative effects on soil fertility and biodiversity.

Read more

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.

Read more

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?

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more