Near-death experiences: sublethal effects of pesticides on pollinating insects

Negative impacts of pesticides on pollinators can take different forms: direct kills on contact (called lethal effects) or indirect effects, through the pollinators’ abilities to reproduce (called sublethal effects). These sublethal effects are generally not spotted by regulatory bodies through traditional ecotoxicological tests, but have severe impacts on pollinator health.

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Can solar farms help agricultural farms?

Electricity and food are two things each of us consumes every day. It is possible that by making smart choices, we can help grow more food while also generating electricity. Pollinating insects are an important part of agriculture in the US, and we can make electricity choices to increase the number of those insects near our farms.

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Something to chew on: the environmental impacts of our food choices

Hamburger or fish sandwich? Which lunch option has the lowest environmental impact? Consumers and policy makers aiming to make informed choices about what animal protein food sources to support have a new resource available this month, thanks to a review led by University of Washington researchers.

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Phosphorous the disappearing nutrient

We better rethink our phosphorus use before we run out of it. Phosphorous is a vital nutrient for humans, animals, and plants and is heavily used as a fertiliser on agricultural fields. Our food production relies on deposits that will most likely run out of phosphorus within the next decades, with little prospects of alternatives. How will we be able to fertilise our crops in the future?

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Beefore It’s Too Late: A Study of Diminishing Bee Populations and Why We Must Act Now!

There has been a major decline in bee populations over the past 50 years, although demand for insect pollination has tripled. In their article, Dave Goulson and colleagues touch on problems such as habitat loss, intensification of agriculture, and increasing reliance on pesticides, which can mean pollinators are chronically exposed to harmful chemicals faster due to climate change. About 75% of our crop species benefit from insect pollinators, which provide a global service worth $ 215 billion in food production. If we enter the pollination crisis, crop yields may begin to fall which is concerning for the future generations.

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Can seaweed farming help fight climate change?

Seaweed farming is the fastest growing sector of food production and provides healthy, nutritious sea vegetables. Farming seaweed can also have positive benefits by decreasing wave action, taking up carbon dioxide, and locally reducing the effects of ocean acidification. Spatial planning, market analyses, and infrastructure development are needed to facilitate the expansion of seaweed aquaculture.

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Soybean Soybetter

By 2050, the demand for staple food crops, such as potatoes and wheat, is expected to nearly double from what it is today. We could farm all the land in the world, but scientists and others believe this could be detrimental for a multitude of reasons. How can we increase our crop yields without expanding our already limited fields? The answer may lie in cutting out leaves. Taking this approach, Srinivasan and colleagues increased soybean production by up to 8%, that’s approximately 6.5 metric tons per year.

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The establishment of protected areas is influenced more by economics than the needs of threatened species

While the aim of creating protected areas is to conserve habitat that is necessary for the survival of threatened wildlife, historically these protected areas have been established on land that is deemed “economically marginal” — meaning that it is not especially valuable for activities that drive the economy, like agriculture or other human development. However, economically marginal land may not be where the greatest number of threatened species exist, actually the reality is quite the opposite.

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree. How Christmas tree farms affect bird communities.

Grasslands, such as hay meadows, have been increasingly replaced with Christmas tree farms across Europe as the Christmas tree industry expands. A recent study documented higher bird abundance and more bird species in Christmas tree farms than in grasslands that had low shrub and bush (i.e. hedges) abundance. Grasslands with a large amount of hedges had similar amounts of birds compared to Christmas tree farms. As Christmas tree farms take up more and more grasslands, there is a need for more research to determine the quality of bird habitats within Christmas tree farms.

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