Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A few interesting titbits.....

A handful of stories I've come across or been referred to today:

The Centre of Excellence for UK Farming has published research on a variety of topics including several which are soil-related.

The new farming systems research programme is looking at systems that are capable of reducing energy reliance, while maintaining cost-effective and efficient production systems.  Three themes are covered - cover crops, cultivations and soil amendments.

The PROSOIL Project, the aim of which is to develop a producer-led co-operative to test and develop the concept that optimising soil health within primary agricultural systems can improve the financial efficiency of livestock production in an environmentally-sensitive way.

And a project looking at the development of strip tillage techniques in UK arable production is examining the operation of strip tillage equipment on varying soil types and exploring the effect on soil structure and crop performance.  It is also looking to further develop strip tillage as a cultivation technique for use in a range of arable crops including oilseed rape, sugar beet, maize and field beans.

Find out about these and other projects here.

An article in Scientific American argues that soil depletion is behind declines in the nutritional quality of fruit and vegetables. 'Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.'

The Financial Times (registration needed) reports on the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai. Because of the increasing salinity of Middle Eastern soils and groundwater, crop plants are increasingly valued for their value for withstanding salt. A number of types of major crops, including barley, have been identified which can withstand high levels of salinity, which affects more than 25% of irrigated land globally.