In the introduction, University of Washington geologist David R. Montgomery writes that he never thought he’d write an optimistic book about the environment. Montgomery’s first popular book, “Dirt,” was about how erosion undermined ancient civilizations around the world in places like modern-day Syria and Iraq. (more…)
Tag Archives: agriculture
New lab unifies data, expertise and novel analytics to speed discovery in industries including retail, medicine and finance
San Jose, Calif. – 10 Oct 2013: Scientists from IBM today announced the Accelerated Discovery Lab, a new collaborative environment specifically targeted at helping clients find unknown relationships from disparate data sets.
The workspace includes access to diverse data sources, unique research capabilities for analytics such as domain models, text analytics and natural language processing capabilities derived from Watson, a powerful hardware and software infrastructure, and broad domain expertise including biology, medicine, finance, weather modeling, mathematics, computer science and information technology. This combination reduces time to insight resulting in business impact – cost savings, revenue generation and scientific impact – ahead of the traditional pace of discovery. (more…)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A study on frogs in remote Sierra Nevada mountain habitats including Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument, detected concentrations of pesticides in frog tissue that potentially came from California’s Central Valley sources.
“Our results show that current-use pesticides, particularly fungicides, are accumulating in the bodies of Pacific chorus frogs in the Sierra Nevada,” says Kelly Smalling, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the study. “This is the first time we’ve detected many of these compounds, including fungicides, in the Sierra Nevada. The data generated by this study support past research on the potential of pesticides to be transported by wind or rain from the Central Valley to the Sierras.” (more…)
Two groups — clades — of grasses that once had a common ancestry diverged. The PACMAD clade was predisposed to evolve a more efficient “C4” means of photosynthesis than grasses in the BEP clade. In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Brown-led team pinpoints the anatomical differences between the clades that led to the PACMAD’s tendency toward C4.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Even on the evolutionary time scale of tens of millions of years there is such a thing as being in the right shape at the right time. An anatomical difference in the ability to seize the moment, according to a study led by Brown University biologists, explains why more species in one broad group, or clade, of grasses evolved a more efficient means of photosynthesis than species in another clade. (more…)
Brazil’s soybean yields have become competitive with those of the United States and Argentina, but the soil demands a lot of phosphorous, which is not renewable. In the United States, meanwhile, historical applications of the fertilizer have polluted waterways. What accounts for these problems? It’s the soils, according to a new study comparing agriculture in the three countries.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Just 20 years ago, the soils of the Amazon basin were thought unsuitable for large-scale agriculture, but then industrial agriculture — and the ability to fertilize on a massive scale — came to the Amazon. What were once the poorest soils in the world now produce crops at a rate that rivals that of global breadbaskets. Soils no longer seem to be the driver — or the limiter — of agricultural productivity. But a new Brown University-led study of three soybean growing regions, including Brazil, finds that soils have taken on a new role: mediating the environmental consequences of modern farming. (more…)
ANN ARBOR — The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through southern Haiti in October, will extend beyond destruction and injury. The current and future food security looks bleak barring significant intervention during the next year, according to a University of Michigan report.
Rain-triggered mudslides throughout the country from the hurricane has not only washed out homes, but also roadways and bridges—bringing transportation to a near standstill, says Athena Kolbe, the report’s lead author and a U-M doctoral candidate in social work and political science. The natural disaster compounded Haiti’s long struggles to transport enough produce from the countryside to village markets and major urban centers. (more…)
The gut bacteria of honey bees have acquired several genes that confer resistance to tetracycline, a direct result of more than five decades of use of antibiotics by American beekeepers and a potential health hazard for bee colonies, a new study by Yale University researchers show.
The genetic analysis of the gut bacteria, which are believed to help in bees’ digestion and ability to ward off parasites, suggests changing antibiotic use by beekeepers might be one factor in the mysterious colony collapse disorder afflicting bee populations. (more…)
A new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder indicates air pollution in the form of nitrogen compounds emanating from power plants, automobiles and agriculture is changing the alpine vegetation in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The emissions of nitrogen compounds to the atmosphere are being carried to remote areas of the park, altering sensitive ecosystems, said CU-Boulder Professor William Bowman, who directs CU-Boulder’s Mountain Research Station west of Boulder and who led the study. “The changes are subtle, but important,” he said. “They represent a first step in a series of changes which may be relatively irreversible.”
In other regions of the world, higher amounts of nitrogen pollutants correlate with decreased biodiversity, acidified soils and dead stream organisms like trout, said Bowman. “There is evidence that indicates once these changes occur, they can be difficult if not impossible to reverse. It is best to recognize these early stages before the more harmful later stages happen.” (more…)