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26 Nov 2021
Change the way we farm
Change the way we farm

Farming Practices Need to Change

The food industry as a whole accounts for a third of our carbon emissions. Putting food into the mouths of billions of people every day is a monumental task and one that is likely to get even greater as human populations increase. From deforestation to transport, waste management to food storage, each step of the food chain brings with it a high carbon footprint.

If the world is to meet the ambition of reaching net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century as outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change, the food industry is going to have to play its part. How might the food we eat change as 2050 draws near?

Raising livestock contributes a significant proportion of the food industry's climate emissions.
Livestock alone makes up around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 
By reducing the need for dairy cows, it is hoped such solutions might also reduce the amount of methane – a potent greenhouse gas which traps up to 25 times more heat than CO2 during its first 100 years in the atmosphere – produced by the millions of cows worldwide as they digest their food.

The food industry as a whole accounts for a third of our carbon emissions. 
Putting food into the mouths of billions of people every day is a monumental task and one that is likely to get even greater as human populations increase. 
From deforestation to transport, waste management to food storage, each step of the food chain brings with it a high carbon footprint.

There are innovations being developed by researchers that could also help to reduce emissions from the food we eat.

Regenerative Agriculture, which aims to improve the health of soil by using practices that disturb the soil less, allowing soil's organic matter to regenerate, and rotating crops so the soil retains a diverse range of nutrients. Soil can act as a carbon sink as plant matter decomposes and becomes locked away in the earth. But if the soil is disturbed by excessive tilling, for example, that carbon can be released back into the atmosphere.
The UK-based project, AgriCaptureCO2, is also developing a way to measure the carbon captured in soil, using satellite images, farmers' data and soil samples. The aim is for farmers to be able to track their efforts to put more carbon in the ground.

Another major innovation in farming in recent years has been vertical farming. Vertical farms can grow crops much faster than fields can.
There are cost-effective in areas of the world where climates are so extreme that it's difficult to grow crops with traditional farming methods, or so remote it's difficult to get food to people.
Vertical farming will also need to find its place in the global supply chain to supply the right kind of food that needs growing, Burnett says.

"You have a lot of innovator companies in this space who are competing. At the moment they're separate from traditional farmers, but there's a lot of potential to join up and be better linked into the food supply. This will have to happen."

But while high-tech solutions could help to reduce the carbon footprint of farming, it may also require some changes in consumer behaviour.

We must change what we eat to change the food system.
An estimated 17% of food grown around the world in 2019 was wasted at various points in the food chain, amounting to 931 million tonnes
"At the turn of the century, we were growing enough calories to feed 10 to 12 billion people, but we only had seven billion people on the planet.
At least 61% came from households, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, while the rest occurring during harvesting, transport, processing and retail. Not only does this mean the carbon released while producing the food is also essentially wasted, but as the food rots, it releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

"If we reduce demand enough, we don't have to have very intensive farming, we don't have to use a lot of chemicals, we don't have to destroy biodiversity,"

Ultimately, the whole food system needs to change, including how we think about, package and transport food, how we regulate it and trade it.

"It's not a silver bullet. The whole innovation architecture and the innovation of governance systems is really important to get the whole food system to transform into a low carbon emissions system," 
If the world is to meet the ambition of reaching net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century as outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change, the food industry is going to have to play its part. How might the food we eat change as 2050 draws near?

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21 Nov 2021
Mixed Gardening
Mixed Gardening

10 Fascinating Edible-Plant Facts ...

From a definition of open-pollinated crops and details about grafting tomatoes to knowing which edible garden plants are warm- or cool-weather crops, these facts about plants double as gardening tips to help you grow even more, even better.

Plant breeders, seed companies, professional farmers and veteran gardeners possess specialized knowledge that would greatly benefit the average home gardener. I’ve spent countless hours working with such specialists during my more than 30 years as a landscape designer, and I have grown numerous edibles in my trial garden. Thanks to this research, I’ve come up with my Top 10 List of edible-plant facts that will increase your plant-growing expertise. Some cover plant basics, some touch on scientific technicalities, and some are crop-specific, but all will help you grow an even better garden next season.

1. Watch Out for Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants ...
Nitrogen is as important to plants as protein is to animals. Nitrogen-starved plants look paler than normal, and their lower leaves start to yellow, which is especially evident on squash, peppers, broccoli and other heavy-feeding annuals. When I mention that a plant needs nitrogen to a gardener, I often hear, “But I followed the directions on the fertilizer package!” The dosage suggested on the package is only an average, however; many factors influence how much nitrogen you should actually apply. Your soil may be sandy and allow nutrients to quickly leach away, in which case you should be diligent about building soil quality by adding organic matter. Or, perhaps the bag of chicken manure you applied was sitting at the nursery too long and the nitrogen volatilized into the air before you bought it. Or, maybe a particular plant variety is an especially heavy feeder.

That said, some gardeners over-fertilize, which can be just as damaging as not applying enough. Use your eyes as your guide to judge the health of your crops, and regard the directions on any fertilizer package as a starting point, but not a set rule.

2. Which Crops to Start from Seed vs. When to Use Transplants ...
The plants at any garden center entice growers to head home with a full load of transplants. But, just because one can buy peas, dill and cucumbers as transplants, or start them indoors at home, doesn’t mean it’s necessary — seeds of most plants can be sown directly in the garden. The $3 you’d spend on one dill seedling, for example, would be better spent on a packet of 50 dill seeds.

Cabbage and Lettuce ...
Cabbage and lettuce prefer the cooler temperatures and shorter days of spring and fall, which makes them well-suited to be eye-catching companions for spring’s yellow daffodil blooms.

I recommend shelling out money for transplants — or spending time to start seeds early indoors — only when you need to give certain crops a head start on the weather or to make plant spacing easier. In most regions, the only plants that really need the extra growing time are the longer-season crops, including tomatoes. You may also choose to transplant brassicas, such as broccoli, to take advantage of windows of cool weather. Most other crops will grow successfully if you sow seed directly outdoors. Many crops will actually produce better when direct-sown — particularly root crops. Follow the timing directions on your seed packets for best results.

When you do decide to purchase transplants, choose strong plants that aren’t too much bigger than the pot they’re in. Garden centers like to sell bigger plants at higher prices, but these plants are often stressed and root-bound, and they usually won’t grow as well after transplanting as smaller, younger plants would.

3. Success with Short-Day Plants ...
Some edible plants are referred to as “day-length sensitive,” although day length is a misnomer because these plants are actually sensitive to the number of hours of darkness. Some crops are short-day plants, typically those grown in spring and fall, and some crops are long-day plants, which require more than 12 hours of light to flower. Day-neutral plants flower regardless of day length. For general information on how day length affects many different plants, and to determine the number of sunny hours at your garden’s latitude, refer to Johnny's Selected Seeds.

A good example: Most gardeners plant cilantro in spring, and are frustrated when it goes to seed just six weeks later. Cilantro is a short-day plant that needs cool weather. Instead of trying to keep it going through longer summer days (unless you’re growing it for coriander seeds), plant it in late summer and it will grow until struck down by a hard frost. For a cilantro-flavored summer herb, try papalo, which is a Mexican warm-season annual with a related flavor.

4. Basic Botany Vocabulary ...
Some key edible-plant facts that cause confusion among many gardeners are the definitions of common plant and seed terms, such as genetically modified (GM), hybrid and open-pollinated — and the media often gets these wrong, too. So, let’s review.

The two main seed types are hybrids and open-pollinated. The open-pollinated varieties are either self-pollinating or cross-pollinating; in reality, many plants do a little of both. The flowers on self-pollinating plants, such as tomatoes, each contain male and female parts and can pollinate themselves. Other plants, including squash and cucumbers, produce male and female flowers that cross-pollinate. To produce a crop, insect pollinators, wind or gardeners must transfer pollen from a male flower to the pistil of a female flower.

To save seed, you’ll want to grow open-pollinated varieties, which can duplicate themselves “true to type” (the offspring will be similar to the parent). Often noted as “OP” in seed catalogs, they offer a long-term advantage: If you save seed for a number of years, the variety will become more acclimated to your garden’s conditions. Except for a few edibles, such as potatoes and apples, heirloom varieties are open-pollinated.

If you grow multiple open-pollinated varieties of a cross-pollinating crop, you’ll need to separate the varieties by distance or barriers; otherwise, the pollen will mix and the resulting seed will produce a combination of the varieties. Say you have two OP zucchini varieties planted next to one another. You’ll need to cover them separately and hand-pollinate the flowers for the seed to produce true-to-type offspring. If you don’t plan to save seed, then don’t worry about this detail.

Hybrid varieties are crosses between two closely related plants or animals (think of breeding a horse with a donkey to get a mule). Seed breeders select special lines and then purposely cross them to combine the best traits of the two lines. Identified in catalogs as “Hybrid” or “F1,” these varieties can offer valuable characteristics, including disease resistance, high yields or uniform ripening. Seeds from hybrids will not grow true to type, so you can’t save seed from these plants.

Genetically modified (GM) varieties are created in a lab via a complex process wherein selected genes from any organism with desirable traits are inserted into a plant, whether related or not. For example, scientists take genes from the bacteria Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) and incorporate them into corn plants to make these varieties toxic to common corn pests. The plant’s DNA is altered in ways that couldn’t naturally occur, and the Bt pesticide is produced in every cell of the plant, which means that humans consume it when they eat the corn. The cost of development has limited GM plants mainly to large-scale agriculture. Most processed foods contain GM soy, corn or sugar. GM sweet corn, papaya and summer squash are in supermarkets, and the USDA has approved GM potatoes and apples.

5. Warm-Weather Crops vs. Cool-Weather Crops ...
Edible plants are generally classified as either warm- or cool-season crops. How can you know which crops are which? Here are two simplified rules to help: If you eat the tuber, root, leaf or flower bud, the vegetable usually prefers cool conditions. If you eat the fruit or the seeds, the vegetable needs warm conditions to produce well. So, carrots (roots), spinach (leaves), and broccoli (buds) are all cool-season crops. Tomatoes (fruit), and beans (seeds) are warm-season vegetables. Of course, there are exceptions: Peas (seeds) are cool-weather plants, and sweet potatoes (tubers) need heat. These two rules can still be a guide, though, especially when names are deceiving — for example, winter squash (fruit) needs a long summer growing season.

6. Climate Considerations When Growing Tomatoes ...
Garden-catalog writers, chefs and home growers rave about the flavor of many large heirloom tomatoes, such as ‘Brandywine.’ Most of these large tomatoes have many sections, or “ovaries” (often eight to 12 per fruit). For the tomato to properly develop, each ovary needs to be fertilized. Temperature plays a major role — daytime temps need to be between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with humid nights hovering between 60 and 70 degrees. At temperatures outside of this range, pollen may be less vigorous and blossoms could abort (known as “blossom drop”).

While nearly all tomato varieties will suffer outside of this optimal range, certain varieties, which are generally smaller and produce faster, can handle weather fluctuations better than larger, multi-ovaried heirlooms. If your climate doesn’t fall in the preferred range, you may have more success with heirlooms that have a simple, round shape, which indicates that the fruits have only one ovary and pollination will be more reliable. Consider any cherry types, or these varieties: ‘Black from Tula,’ ‘Black Plum,’ ‘Black Prince,’ ‘Emmy,’ ‘Siberian,’ ‘Stupice’ and ‘Vorlon.’

7. Indeterminate Tomato Varieties Have Better Tomato Flavor ...
“Determinate” and “indeterminate” are terms used to describe a tomato variety’s growth habit — but many gardeners don’t realize these categories relate to flavor, too. Most determinate tomato plants have fewer leaves per fruit than their sprawling indeterminate cousins. These compact determinate plants have the advantage of growing better in containers and producing all of their harvest at once, which makes them great for processing. But, don’t expect them to be as flavorful as the vining indeterminate varieties that have more leaves to convert sunlight into sugars and, thus, develop more intense, complex flavors.

8. When to Use Grafted Vegetables ...
Grafted edible plants start with a vigorous, disease-resistant rootstock to which a named variety is grafted, as is the case with most fruit trees. The latest research and my experience indicate that grafted vegetables are most advantageous if you want to grow certain edible plants, such as tomatoes or eggplants, but your garden provides stressful conditions, such as limited water, poor soil or disease pressure. If that’s the case for you, locate the best grafted plant for your conditions using MOTHER’s Seed and Plant Finder. Grafted plants are expensive, but you can research the subject, buy seeds of vigorous rootstocks, and try grafting your own — learn how by reading How to Graft Tomatoes. Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Harris Seeds and Territorial Seed Co. all offer seeds of tomatoes that make good rootstock. Varieties that are good candidates for grafting onto rootstock are ‘Brandywine,’ ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and ‘San Marzano.’

9. Grow Blueberries in Acidic Soil ...
Blueberries are a delicious and colorful addition to any garden, but you can’t plant them just anywhere and expect them to thrive. Start by choosing the right variety for your climate, and then consider your soil. Blueberries need acidic soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5). After planting, you must keep the soil acidic, because blueberry roots don’t absorb nutrients well in neutral or alkaline (also known as “basic”) soil.

Test your soil often with litmus paper from a nursery or aquarium shop, and adjust it as needed using sulfur. A successful blueberry farmer told me that if you use drip irrigation, avoid ooze emitters; instead, use small spray emitters to keep the soil evenly damp, which makes it easier to keep the soil acidic. His advice has worked well for me. If you live in an area with alkaline soil, your irrigation water may be alkaline, too — all the more reason to continue to monitor your soil’s pH level.

10. Herb Flavor Families ...
Most folks think of an herb, such as oregano, as a specific plant. Yet some, such as Mexican oregano and Cuban oregano, are in entirely different plant families but taste quite similar to the familiar Italian herb. What we call “herbs” are really flavors and, more specifically, the myriad oils that produce those flavors.

While we can’t assign a specific herb’s flavor to any single oil, the same oils show up in a number of herbs and give the plants similar flavor overtones. For example, geraniol, which lends a citrus flavor to lemon thyme, is also a component of lemon balm. The licorice-flavored oil estragole is found in both French tarragon and anise hyssop. If you want to unearth potential flavor matches, browse this graphic representation of the organic compounds in several herbs and spices at Compound Interest.

With these 10 facts about edible plants in your repertoire, may your gardening be even more productive, beautiful and fun. Bon appétit!

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19 Nov 2021
Crop Rotation
Crop Rotation

Crop Rotation ...

Crop rotation is a contentious subject and many regard it as a kind of law that should not be transgressed. But what might be a good rotation programme for one farmer may be disastrous for another, even if they are in the same area.

For instance, one farmer may follow a cabbage crop with beetroot, which are totally unrelated crops. This sounds like good procedure and certainly can be. However, this farmer’s neighbour may follow the same programme and experience problems if there is cyst eelworm in the soil, which infects both crops.

The bottom line is that working out a crop rotation programme involves a lot more than alternating different crops. Pests and diseases also need to be considered.

You could, for instance, have a carrot crop and follow it with beans, then Swiss chard, which amounts to a root crop followed by a legume and then a leaf crop.

All are completely unrelated, but all host root knot eelworm (Meloidogyne spp). By the time the Swiss chard is planted, the eelworm population could have built up to the point where the Swiss chard is a failure.

Diseases ...
Diseases should also be a consideration. With plants of the cabbage family, if you’ve had a problem with blackleg fungus, for example, it is safer to wait two years before planting a Brassica again. If there was no blackleg, you could follow much sooner.

Certain diseases that could be a problem for a follow-up crop can be countered by the season. My boss once requested that I plant an out-of-season crop of cabbages. Although the crop was a success, there was quite a lot of black rot on the outer leaves.

I had to follow up immediately with another crop of cabbages, and there were some residual leaves with black rot lesions still in the land when the next cabbages were planted.

However, I did this knowing that the season the new crop was to grow in would not allow the black rot to become a problem.

Ramifications ...
You have to consider all the ramifications when planning a crop rotation programme. In some cases, you can practise monoculture if the soil conditions are very favourable. I have built up the soil in my tomato tunnels and have been planting tomatoes in the same soil for about two decades.

Initially, before the soil was improved, the plants would die from eelworm. A friend once told me he had a client who only produced lettuce, and used the same soil for this crop every time. He had built up his organic content and used vermicompost.

I am not advocating monoculture, but you should consider the potential hazards of rotation and not lose out just because it does not fit in with your perception of crop rotation requirements.

Eelworm is one of the major reasons for crop rotation, and you should always examine the roots of a crop after harvest to determine if there is eelworm and, if so, ascertain the extent of the infestation; this will help you decide which follow-up crops to plant.

Article Credits : Bill Kerr & Farmers Weekly

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14 Nov 2021
Africa and Global Warming
Africa and Global Warming

What African Climate Experts Want You to Know ...

Africa is the continent likely to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change even though studies show it has contributed least to the crisis.

So even though Africa has released relatively small amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, those living on the continent are likely to be the victims of climate emergency disasters.

It is already suffering from extreme weather events and changes to rainfall patterns linked to climate change - leading to droughts and flooding. With a rapidly rising population, this has knock-on effects for food, poverty and gives rise to migration and conflict.

Here, five climate experts tell world leaders what to remember as they hammer out solutions to rapid climate change.

'Africa's Development is Non-Negotiable' ...

The average African uses less electricity each year than one refrigerator consumes in the US or Europe.

But this is going to grow - especially as temperatures rise - as Africans will have to have more energy to cool their homes and irrigate farms.

Africa too must be allowed to develop and build up its infrastructure - something that requires more energy.

So we must simultaneously have more power for rapid economic growth and quickly find alternatives to fossil fuels to provide this energy.

Yet African countries are being constrained by rich nations who make grand statements about their commitments while continuing to burn fossil fuels at home.

Kenya already generates a far greater share of its renewable power than the US or Europe.

While Africa welcomes partnerships, countries on the continent cannot sacrifice their ambitions. More thought needs to be given to what Africa needs in terms of industrialisation and creating jobs.

This means that richer nations need to actually reduce their own emissions and they need to live up to funding promises. In the past there have been pledges, but little upfront money.

'Donors should not dictate' ...

Climate change academics at African institutions are often not consulted by policymakers or governments on the continent.

Their research and potential solutions are shelved for too long and almost never enter into policy debates.

This fragmented approach also effects government policies. Different ministries will often be pursuing different donor-conceived ideas - with no systematic senior political co-ordination. This leads to piecemeal solutions.

So donors should not dictate policy but work more closely with governments on a co-ordinated approach.

This is a chance for Africa to think creatively about how to develop and address climate change at the same time.

'Emissions need to rise first' ...

Despite the large-scale and deep impact of climate change on Africa, the support countries are given to adjust is minimal.

Instead international partners focus on preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases - three times more is spent on this.

The global consensus seems to be that all countries must quickly achieve a target of net zero - which means not adding to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, so any emissions are balanced out by removing greenhouse gasses via plants or new technologies.

This neglects the massive development and energy challenges Africa faces. Put bluntly, emissions from the continent may need to rise significantly in the near term before they fall.

Many rich countries seem to be expecting Africa to leapfrog to clean technologies for producing energy - but are not so keen to commit the scale of investment needed to make it happen, though the recent deal for South Africa to reduce its reliance on coal is a step in the right direction.

Fossil-fuel-rich African nations do need to know that the world is changing fast and create institutions and policies to drive a transition to green energy. There are great examples in Rwanda and Ethiopia. But much more needs to be done and poor governance remains a major barrier.

'Give grants not loans' ...

Many countries in Africa already rely heavily on renewable energy - hydropower for electricity generation.

But recent droughts, such as El Niño of 2015-16, caused widespread electricity shortages.

Research shows future climate change could reduce hydropower capacity considerably in major African river basins - and hit the agricultural sector where many people are employed.

Droughts could affect Africa's hydroelectric dams

The combination of climate change and rapid urbanisation will have devastating effects.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would massively reduce future damage to African livelihoods, health, infrastructure, economies and ecosystems - the World Bank estimates climate change could push around 40 million more Africans into extreme poverty by 2030 if not addressed.

To achieve this requires deep emission cuts, especially from high-emitting countries outside Africa.

Yet investment to help African countries adapt to the changing weather, known as adaptation funding, is crucial.

Between 2014 and 2018 only 46% of what was committed by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for adaptation in Africa was disbursed.

The quality of finance also matters as most of it is provided at the moment via loans rather than grants.

This means countries that have done little to cause the climate crisis are becoming further indebted to adapt to climate change.

African policymakers also need to adopt a government-wide approach so all sectors can become more climate resilient.

'Polluters must pay' ...

Vulnerable and poor African communities need help to adapt to the inevitable impact of climate change - but their voices must also be heard.

There is a lot of traditional knowledge and expertise on the ground that is ignored.

Policies are often implemented without the involvement of local communities and their buy-in.

A bottom-up approach in Africa needs to be part of a government's overall climate change policy.

And the "polluter pays principle" should be a key strategy for all governments.

Article Eight of the 2015 Paris Agreement recognises the importance of addressing the loss and damage associated with adverse effects of climate change, yet there hasn't been finance allocated for this.

Big carbon-emitting companies should be made to take responsibility and pay for the loss and damage they have caused as big polluters given they have generated profits for decades.

'Grow Your Own' ...

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in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...

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for Food Security

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* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

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Contact The GreenAgric Group on .

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or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...

on +27 72 387 2293

We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...

Twitter : @GreenAgricThe

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12 Nov 2021
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

All About Growing Sweet Potatoes ...

Learn how to grow, harvest, cook, and store the sweet potato variety of your choice using this brilliant guide.

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are productive, delicious and super-nutritious. Few staple crops keep as well as these flavorful tubers, which can be stored for months in a cool, dry place. This crop is a staple in climates with hot, muggy summers, but growing sweet potatoes is also possible in cooler climates if you adjust to meet the plants’ requirement for warm temperatures.

Types of Sweet Potatoes to Try ...
Sweet potato varieties differ in skin and flesh color and texture, as well as in leaf shape and vine length. The flavor and nutritional qualities of sweet potatoes vary with flesh color: Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich sources of fiber and vitamins A and C. White-fleshed varieties contain less vitamin A, but are a good source of minerals and B vitamins. Purple sweet potatoes contain a little vitamin A, but are loaded with antioxidants.

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are the most popular. Tried-and-true ‘Beauregard’ is productive and disease-resistant. Some short-vined varieties, such as ‘Georgia Jet,’ make good crops in areas where summers are brief. In warmer areas, grow slower-maturing heirlooms famous for flavor, such as ‘Nancy Hall.’

White-fleshed sweet potatoes are easier to grow and store in warm climates compared with regular “Irish” potatoes. Fun to use in the kitchen, white sweet potatoes are distinctly creamy, making them a favorite for soups and baby food. Varieties of this type also make excellent potato salad.

Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes need a long, warm season to produce a good crop, but the starchy, deep-purple roots of varieties such as ‘Violetta’ and ‘All Purple’ are worth the wait. The dry flesh of purple sweet potatoes makes them perfect for roasting and frying. The anthocyanin pigments that give purple sweet potatoes their color also enhance their nutritional value.

When to Plant Sweet Potatoes ...

To grow sweet potatoes, begin with rooted stem cuttings, called “slips,” which sprout from the ends of stored tubers. If you want to grow your own slips, move parent potatoes to a warm room in early spring. A month before your last frost date, soak the tubers in warm water overnight, and then plant them sideways or diagonally in shallow containers, covering the tuber only halfway with sandy potting soil. After danger of frost has passed, move the sprouting sweet potatoes to a warm spot outdoors and keep them moist. When handled this way, stems (the slips) will emerge from both ends of the sweet potato, with each potato producing six or more. When the stems are more than 4 inches long and the weather is consistently warm, break off the slips from the parent sweet potatoes and plant them.

Planting Sweet Potatoes ...

Sweet potatoes grow best in warm, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.6 and 6.5. Choose a site with fertile soil in full sun. Where summers are mild, place plastic, either black (heats soil and prevents weeds) or clear (heats more than black but does not control weeds), over the site in spring to warm the soil. Plant slips into small holes cut in the plastic, and leave plastic on the site until harvest time. Sweet potatoes benefit from a generous helping of fully rotted compost dug into the soil before planting, along with a light application of balanced organic fertilizer. Space bush-type varieties 12 inches apart, but allow 18 inches between varieties that grow long, vigorous vines. Space rows at least 3 feet apart; long-vined varieties may need even more space. Situate sweet potato slips diagonally in prepared soil, so that only the top two leaves show at the surface.

Water well and frequently for the first several days and be patient. After about two weeks, the plants should be well-rooted and showing hardy growth. For even more information on growing sweet potatoes, especially in cooler climates.

Harvesting and Storing Sweet Potatoes ...

Begin checking the root size of fast-maturing varieties 90 days after planting. Sweet potatoes can be left in the ground as long as the vines are still growing and nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One sign sweet potato plants are done growing is when the leaves and vines turn yellow. Starting from the outside of the row, loosen the soil with a digging fork before pulling up the plants by their crowns. Some sweet potato varieties develop a cluster of tubers right under the plants, but others may set roots several feet from the main clump.

Before storing sweet potatoes, you will need to cure them, a process that creates a second skin that is an incredibly effective seal. To cure sweet potatoes, gently arrange them in a single layer in a warm, humid place where temperatures can be held at 80 degrees for seven to 10 days. In warm climates, a well-ventilated outbuilding is ideal. In cooler climates, a bathroom or closet with a space heater makes a good curing place (put a bucket of water in the room to increase humidity). Another option is to place jugs of hot water in a large cooler with your tubers; add new hot water to the jugs daily to keep the space warm and humid.

After curing, choose damage-free sweet potatoes for long-term storage in a dry place where temperatures will stay between 55 and 65 degrees. The flavor and nutritional content of sweet potatoes improves after a couple of months of storage. If conditions are ideal, well-cured sweet potatoes will store for up to 10 months.

Pest and Disease Prevention Tips ...

Slightly acidic soil conditions help suppress sweet potato diseases, and the plants’ lush vine growth naturally smothers many weeds. Rotating sweet potatoes with grains, cowpeas or marigolds helps prevent disease problems, especially from root-knot nematodes, which infect tomatoes, peppers and many root crops. Avoid growing sweet potatoes in areas recently covered with grass, because ground-dwelling grubs and wireworms — often numerous in grass-covered soils — chew holes and grooves into the tubers. Deer love to eat sweet potato leaves, so you may need row covers or other deterrents. Stored sweet potatoes are a favorite of hungry mice, so stash your harvest in a secure location.

Growing Tips ...

Some sweet potato varieties produce morning glory-type flowers in late summer, followed by tiny seeds. Plant breeders work with the seeds, but for gardeners, propagating sweet potatoes by growing them from slips is more practical.

With adequate moisture, shabby-looking slips usually recover quickly.

You can also increase your supply of plants by taking 4-inch-long stem-tip cuttings, clipping off all but the top two leaves, and rooting the cuttings in moist potting soil.

In the Kitchen ...

Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed or used in stir-fries. Cooked, mashed sweet potato can be substituted for pumpkin in any recipe, and few desserts are as nutritious as sweet potato pie. In breads and puddings, use cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or orange to add complexity to sweet potato flavor. In savory dishes, sweet potatoes’ flavor is enhanced by a range of spices, including garlic, ginger and curry, and sweet potato salads can carry big handfuls of chopped parsley or cilantro. Thin slices of sweet potato are great for grilling, or you can make sweet potato chips in a hot oven. Don’t overlook the new leaves on stem tips, which make excellent cooked greens.


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9 Nov 2021
Hemp
Hemp

The Resurgence of Industrial Hemp ...

Meet some of the men and women testing, researching and pioneering the resurgence of industrial hemp.

Get ready for the World's newest billion-dollar industry: Industrial hemp. 
Well, it’s not really new. As prohibition on hemp’s psychoactive cousin unravels, bestselling author Doug Fine explains why one of humanity’s longest-utilized plants is poised to rejuvenate the World's economy. 
Doug Fine embarks upon a humorous yet rigorous journey to meet the men and women pioneering hemp’s reemergence in the twenty-first century. The following excerpt highlights a few of those hemp pioneers.

Industrial Hemp Pioneers ...
Dr. David West, Geneticist,
Actual Twenty-First-Century American Hemp Researcher
From his home the sixty-five-year-old David West said that what is, on the surface, his unusual journey from legendary Big Ag researcher to legendary hemp researcher actually follows what for him was an obvious course. 
After pioneering the use of molecular markers in plant breeding, now part of the standard commercial plant identification tool kit, he “watched the seed industry get taken over by the chemical industry” in the 1990s. 
“One day I saw a helicopter land in a neighboring field to eradicate feral hemp. Now, as a plant breeder, I’m quite aware of what hemp is. I thought, What the hell is going on here?" ...

Hemp's fibers are among the planet's strongest, its seed oil the most nutritious and its potential as an energy source vast and untapped.

In a 1994 paper titled Fiber War, David West declared modern hemp’s agricultural value.
“I don’t want to grow terminator corn for Monsanto”
His notoriety from that piece and subsequent writing on hemp led, in 1999, to him being contacted by Hawaiian representative Cynthia Thielen (R-Oahu), who is still in office and to this day battling for hemp production in the Aloha State. She’s trying to find a replacement for the declining sugarcane industry, help remediate soil, and find an animal feed that can be grown on the islands.
Cynthia basically said, ‘Do you want to come to Oahu to grow hemp?’” David West explained. It was an 'Is this a trick question?' or as David West thought, 'Am I on Candid Camera ? ...
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”
The half-acre project, which got its federal permits to acquire hemp seed at what David West described as “the last second,” ran from 1999 through 2003, and began with a state Hemp Day declared by the governor for the morning of the first planting on December 19, 1999.
“There were cameras, the Kahuna ceremonial blessing, the whole deal, then everyone went home, and it was me on a fenced-in, alarmed patch of dirt, dealing with every problem farmers have always had to deal with.”

One of his first discoveries, he told me with an It’s funnier now snicker, was that “birds love hemp. Took a while to rig a netting system that kept them out. They ate the whole first planting.”
The project was funded by a hair care company interested in a publicity stunt for what David West called a “dash” of hemp oil in its product. David West was fine with that. 
"When I saw like-minded people at energy fairs speak about hemp without any real knowledge—and how could they have knowledge?—I realized that what we really needed was some studies. But I also knew, since I worked for seed companies for years, how much that kind of research costs”

David West groaned like a hungry man when I told him I was just back from a visit to the sixty acres of hemp that Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin was able to cultivate in 2013. “My study was on a very small, academic scale, but we wound up showing that hemp could be viable in Hawaii’s latitude, which is important because growing hemp is all about the photoperiod. It was a Chinese cultivar that worked best. Grew more than ten feet tall. And it was on former Dole plantation land.”

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7 Nov 2021
Corona Beer with Lime
Corona Beer with Lime

How a Mexican Beer and Limes Helped Uplift a Community in SA ...

Corona Beer, which originated in Mexico, is traditionally served with lime. 
But when beer-brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev added the brand to its line-up, it encountered a problem: a shortage of limes in South Africa. 
This presented a novel opportunity to increase local lime production and develop new farmers.

While South Africa is one of the largest citrus producers in the world, lime production lags far behind, with a miniscul total of fewer than 100ha planted to this crop, compared with about 16 000ha planted to lemons. Moreover, South Africa has conducted little research on limes, and only a handful of cultivars are grown locally.

With limes growing in popularity in recent years, thanks to healthy eating trends, South Africa has to import most of its requirements. This comes at a great cost to the consumer, leading to many people substituting limes with lemons, to the detriment of flavour profiles.

This was the challenge that beer company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) faced when Corona beer became part of its range after the company’s merger with South African Breweries.
Josh Hamman, AB InBev’s Director of Agricultural Development and Sustainability, says Corona Beer, which is originally from Mexico, is normally served with a slice of lime as it greatly enhances the taste.
“We found that South Africans were using lemons instead, which taste completely different. The reason was that limes are very expensive, as there is little commercial production in South Africa”
AB InBev saw this as an ideal opportunity to invest in local lime production and simultaneously fulfil its mandate to develop sectors linked to its business.

Limes in Limpopo ...
“As part of our merger agreement, we had set aside R1 billion to invest in local industries. Limpopo was one of the provinces in which we didn’t have a project, mostly as it isn’t an area where our beer inputs can be grown. So we looked at expanding the criteria beyond our direct inputs to include products connected to our supply chain"
“When the issue surrounding the limes cropped up, we realised this was the perfect opportunity to invest in Limpopo.”
Having the right partners on board is an essential ingredient in the success of such an undertaking. While AB InBev conceived of the lime project more than two years ago, it took time and dedication to find the most suitable partners.
“This isn’t the kind of decision one makes in the boardroom. You need to do your due diligence and go out into the field to see what’s happening on the ground"

“We advertised for partners, and received a call from Piet Smit, CEO of the Komati Fruit Group. He explained that they were already working with the Moletele Community Property Association (CPA) to bring about transformation, skills transfer and upliftment in the local community, and suggested that we consider this partnership for the lime project”
The Moletele CPA owns Richmond farm near Hoedspruit, which is leased to the Komati Fruit Group. According to Hamman, the partnership ticked all the boxes for a successful venture.
“Komati has the technical expertise needed to make such a novel project a success, and a strong partnership with a local community is already in place, meaning it has a very high chance of succeeding”
The partnership was structured so that AB InBev would supply financing, the Komati Fruit Group would provide technical expertise, and the Moletele CPA would become the beneficiary of the rental income for the land.
The 60ha portion of Richmond farm set aside for limes would be leased to Moletele Limes, which consisted of shareholders from the Komati Fruit Group and the Moletele CPA.
The 60ha is being brought into production in three phases of 20ha each. The first was planted under netting in December 2020, and the second is currently nearing completion. The third phase is expected to be completed by 2022.

Cultivars and production ...
With only a handful of lime farms in South Africa, finding the right cultivars and production information was initially a challenge. Once the rootstock was sourced, the Komati Fruit Group’s nursery was used to propagate more trees.
A limited number of limes will be harvested from the first phase next year, and the first real harvest will be that of 2023. The expected yield is about 60t/ha.
“Limes are not a finicky crop and can be treated very much like lemons. We’re happy to see that the trees took very well to the environment in which they were planted and that the first 20ha is flourishing” 

Moletele Limes has signed a memorandum of understanding with AB InBev for the purchase of the limes once they are in production.
“Anything more that we produce, we’ll be able to sell either locally or abroad”
“The export market requires more investment in technology to make it feasible, however. 
Consumers want limes when they’re green, but long transit times result in limes that eventually turn yellow"
“A lot of research is being conducted to find ways to keep the limes green, but we’re not there yet. This means we’ll need to focus on the local market for now, and this is quite small. The offtake agreement with AB InBev is therefore a vital step in the success of this project.”

Meeting demand ...
A challenge that both farmers and AB InBev realised early on was that the greatest demand for limes, during the high beer-consumption summer months, coincided with the end of South Africa’s citrus season. The lime season in this country usually stretches from March to May, but with manipulative techniques, Moletele Limes will try to achieve six production cycles in a year.
This entails stretching nets over the trees to create a controlled environment, and covering the soil on the ridges with canvas to control moisture levels.
“Growth and flowering can be stimulated through manipulating irrigation. We need to eliminate interference from nature and rely solely on irrigation to prompt flowering.
“The trick is to get the trees to keep their flowers, which means the orchards need to be in optimal condition to handle another crop. This makes pest control easier and more thorough.
“Normally, optimal pest control hinges on being able to achieve proper application of control methods at the right time. If the trees are all flowering at the same time, it’s much easier to manage pest control and we can ensure better protection.
“But this is the opposite of what we’ll need to do with the limes. We’ll have six production blocks, all flowering at different times to ensure harvests across the year. It requires extra management and logistics, but fortunately the production blocks are quite small, so it’s manageable.”
A bonus is that the Moletele CPA members will enjoy a more comprehensive learning experience, gaining six opportunities to manage a harvest each year instead of just one.

The farm employs around 13 permanent workers, sourced from the CPA, who work with the Komati Group’s consultants, entomologists and production managers. This creates an optimal learning environment.
As lime production in South Africa is small and little research is available on optimal local production, the project is also serving to expand the knowledge base.
“We want to be able to refine production practices and best cultivation methods, and ultimately create a platform where lime production can grow in South Africa. We really hope this will spark a greater local market for limes and lead to more investments of this kind in the industry”
He adds that one of the main benefits of the project is its longevity.
“Unlike wheat and barley, which have short production cycles, an investment in a citrus orchard can pay off for decades to come. This is an exciting prospect, considering what investments into barley production have done for the industry.

Three years ago, South Africa produced only 60% of its barley requirement. Today, thanks to several successful projects where AB InBev has partnered with farmers, South Africa over-produces by 20%. We’ve been able to convert many emerging farmers to commercial farmers.
“Having the right partners, technical skills and varieties has been crucial. Success with these types of ventures comes slowly. It’s a long-term effort in which you need to stay involved, and if you approach it right, it pays off for everyone"

Article Credits : Lindi Botha & Farmers Weekly

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5 Nov 2021
Intensive Cattle Farming is responsible for Toxic Air Pollution
Intensive Cattle Farming is responsible for Toxic Air Pollution

Ammonia from Farms is Responsible for 39% of Particulate Air Pollution ...

The problem is causing health damage.
Ammonia is released from livestock manure and urine and the overuse of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.

39% of the tiny particles polluting the air are from ammonia leaking from farms, according to research.
The gas drifts into cities and reacts with other air pollutants to form tiny particulate matter, called PM2.5, which is the deadliest form of air pollution.

Ammonia can be trapped on farms by sealing manure pits or injecting the waste under fields, and by stopping the use of chemical fertilisers.

Other nitrogen compounds, called nitrogen oxides, are emitted by commercial farming, diesel vehicles and damage health in two ways: as irritant gases when first emitted and then by combining with ammonia to form PM2.5. Relatively little has been done to cut ammonia emissions, meaning there are simple policies that would be far more cost-effective in reducing PM2.5 levels than further technological measures to tackle nitrogen oxides from vehicles, the scientists say.

In the past, the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles and industry produced large amounts of PM2.5 but pollution controls have cut levels significantly in developed nations. Ammonia emissions have barely fallen since 1980. This means agriculture is now responsible for a larger share of PM2.5. 
Pollution from wood burning stoves has also risen in prominence.

Cutting nitrogen pollution would also tackle the climate crisis, the pollution of rivers and seas, and soil acidification. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas, causing about 6% of global heating and results mostly from the overuse of chemical fertilisers.

The researchers presented a “#Nitrogen4NetZero” proposal at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow on Wednesday, which aims to ensure cutting nitrogen gases is included in climate targets.

“The way we use nitrogen is extremely inefficient. About 80% of the nitrogen resources produced by humans are lost into the environment” 

The UK government is consulting on banning the use of urea in fertiliser, which emits much more ammonia than ammonium nitrate fertiliser. The Netherlands and Germany already require manure to be injected into fields rather than sprayed on the surface, but there is no such requirement in Africa. 
“Any farmer that can smell their manure is losing that goodness”

Air pollution causes at least 7 million premature deaths a year globally, making it a bigger killer than smoking, car crashes or HIV/Aids. Air pollution may be damaging every organ in the human body, according to a comprehensive global review in 2019.

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4 Nov 2021
Cannabis
Cannabis

The Green Organic Dutchman Completes First International Cannabis Shipment ...

Shipment destined for highly anticipated South African medical cannabis market.
First flower to be distributed legally in the country on a commercial scale.

TGOD is a leading producer of premium certified Organically grown cannabis, is pleased to announce it completed its first international commercial shipment consisting of cannabis flower and other extracts destined for the highly anticipated South African medical cannabis market. 

TGOD's cannabis flower will be the first to be distributed legally in the country on a commercial scale. Its products received the approval of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

"This is an important milestone in our strategy to export our certified Organically grown medical cannabis products to international markets. We are confident that our in-country partner will continue to develop this nascent market and that TGOD's portfolio of products will be well received by patients that have previously lacked access to legal, high-quality medical cannabis. We are pleased to be able to complete our first shipment mid-Q3 2021"

About The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd.
The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. is a premium Certified Organically grown cannabis company focused on the health and wellness market. Its Organic cannabis is cultivated in living soil, as nature intended. The Company is committed to cultivating a better tomorrow by producing its products responsibly, with less waste and impact on the environment. Its Canadian facilities have been built to LEED certification standards and its products are sold in recyclable packaging. In Canada, TGOD sells dried flower and oil, and recently launched a series of next–generation cannabis products such as hash, vapes, organic teas and dissolvable powders. Through its European subsidiary, HemPoland, the Company also distributes premium hemp CBD oil and CBD-infused topicals in Europe. By leveraging science and technology, TGOD harnesses the power of nature from seed to sale.

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2 Nov 2021
Ban TOXIC CHEMICALS in Africa
Ban TOXIC CHEMICALS in Africa

France and many other countries around the World, Banned a widely-used TOXIC Herbicide ...

So why is TOXIC Roundup is still widely used in Africa ??? ...


The sale of Roundup Pro 360 was banned in France, after a court found that regulators failed to take safety concerns into account when clearing the herbicide.
Roundup, owned by Bayer, contains the ingredient glyphosate, which causes cancer.

In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the classification of glyphosate as a carcinogen was justified.

Hennie Groenewald, executive manager at Biosafety SA, said the debate around the use of glyphosate was complex.
He added that there were many economic considerations that needed to be taken into account when banning its use.
“We did produce food before Roundup, he said.
Glyphosate is carcinogenic ..

According to Angus McIntosh, a free-range pig, cattle and egg farmer near Stellenbosch and anti-glyphosate activist, the world could feed itself without genetically modified crops and herbicides such as Roundup.
He cited a case in the US, one of thousands around the world, in which Bayer was forced to pay punitive damages to a groundskeeper who had used Roundup and allegedly developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result.
BOTTOM LINE ...
DON'T USE TOXIC CHEMICALS ...

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1 Nov 2021
Allelopathy
Allelopathy

Using Allelopathy in a Weed Management Strategy ...

What is Allelopathy ?...
The inhibition of one plant, or other organism, by another, due to the release into the environment of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors.
How Does Allelopathy Work ? ... 
Plants release chemicals that affect other plants growth from their roots into the ground. The plants trying to grow near the allelopathic plant absorb those chemicals from the soil and are unable to live. ... 
Other plants absorb the gas and are stunted or die.
Allelopathy is a natural process whereby a plant produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other plants.

Cover crop residue leaches allelochemicals, which help control weeds. But to achieve good, prolonged results, you will still need to implement effective weed control.

Using allelopathy in a weed management strategy ...
Weed management should focus on combining different methods to prevent and control weed populations.
“This is not only in the short term but also in the long term” says Dr Suzette Bezuidenhout, Scientific Manager of Cedara’s crop protection unit.
She adds that cultural weed management practices are important. These include production practices that improve crop competitiveness such as cover crops in combination with conservation tillage.
Suzette explains that allelopathic cover crops release allelochemicals into the environment and can be used to enhance weed management.
Researchers are constantly conducting field and tunnel experiments to evaluate the weed control abilities of various cover crops and cultivars.

Trials ...
Recently, researchers evaluated the effects of two cover crops, Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) and stooling rye (Secale cereale), without herbicide use, on the growth of maize and yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) in the field.
The trial involved three control treatments, namely weed residue left on the soil surface and weed control by hoeing.

In a tunnel experiment, oats, stooling rye and three cultivars of ryegrass were used to evaluate their influence on maize and yellow nutsedge growth and development.

The field experiment examined the desiccation times of cover crops before planting and at planting.

Minimum-till maize was planted into the residue and its growth and development were evaluated.

Results ...
In the first field experiment, maize emergence and growth were delayed in the presence of residues of both cover crop species, and especially in annual ryegrass residues.
C. esculentus growth was significantly inhibited in the area between the maize planting rows by the cover crops for the first 14 days after maize emergence. This growth-suppressing effect diminished after 28 days.

In the tunnel experiment, maize and C. esculentus growth were suppressed, especially by the root residues of the cover crops. The annual ryegrass cultivar Midmar was the most suppressive.

Adequate weed control was not achieved by applying only post-emergence herbicides.
Combining annual ryegrass residues sprayed at planting with only post-emergence herbicides applied later in the season resulted in the lowest maize yields.

Weed growth can be reduced by the allelochemicals leached from cover crop residues, but to achieve prolonged, effective weed control.

“More research is needed to establish principles of cover crop weed management in order to define its role in a weed management strategy,” says Suzette “The use of cover crops for weed control should therefore be considered a tool that is supplementary/complementary to standard weed-control practices aimed at managing weed populations in the long-term”

Source: Suzette Bezuidenhout, SR. ‘The use of allelopathy in a weed management strategy’. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, KZN. Retrieved from kzndard.gov.za/research-reports.

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31 Oct 2021
Transfarmation
Transfarmation

How 'Transfarmation' can Help the Climate ...

In their entirety, food systems are responsible for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The bulk comes from agriculture and land use change, such as turning forests into farmland.

Which actions could help to reduce farming's emissions the most ? ...
There are a number of ways that agriculture can lessen its environmental impact. Some of these ways you might be familiar with, like reducing food waste or using water sparingly. 
But others might be a little less obvious to consumers, even though their impacts could be far greater. 
For example, Seaweed Solutions in Portugal are experimenting with seeding kelp forests in the Atlantic Ocean by spraying pebbles with kelp spores and dropping them in the sea. Eventually, these spores will bloom into forests 30m (98ft) high that could provide a source of food, animal feed or medicine and sequester carbon in the process.

Solutions like this sound surprisingly simple, but working out farming's environmental impact can be anything but. Some of the biggest agricultural contributors to climate change are a little less obvious.
One significant source of farming's greenhouse gas emissions comes from land use change, or creating new cropland from natural habitats like forests, peatlands and grassland.

Peat, a thick, dark, gloopy mixture of partially decayed vegetation that accumulates over millennia, is a critical carbon sink. Though they make up only 3% of the world's land, peatlands punch far above their weight when it comes to sequestering carbon. Globally, they store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests, which occupy more than 10 times the area of land.
But when disrupted, this powerful storage system can start spewing carbon dioxide. Agriculture is the main driver for this disruption. If a peat bog is drained of its water, the nutrient-rich soil left behind makes it a perfect environment in which to grow many crops. However, draining the water also enables the stored carbon to be released into the atmosphere. 
Peat, is an Organic material consisting of spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter, primarily plant material, in wetlands.

It is thought that 90% of peatlands have been disturbed to create agricultural land. Growing populations have raised the demand for more farmland, at the cost of natural peatlands.
Not only is this contributing to more carbon emissions, the dried peatland also becomes inflammable, which has led to hugely lethal fires. 

Peat is a desirable additive to soil. Most peat-based compost is used not by commercial growers, but by amateur gardeners. Peat-based compost has many valuable properties: it's versatile and absorbs moisture well.
Yet despite the climate benefits of peat bogs being kept intact, compost derived from peat bogs, which have traditionally been abundant, remains cheap.

There is an encouraging move away from peat, 
The need for this is clear. Because peat develops at a glacial pace – it can take thousands of years for peat bogs to form, with an average growth of just 1mm (0.04 inches) a year in some parts of the world – restoring bogs is less useful than simply keeping the peat in the ground in the first place. That's where peat bogs will continue with their slow and vital business of decomposing plant matter, while locking away massive amounts of carbon.

One way to reduce the amount of extra nutrients a farmer has to apply to their crops could be to improve the growing efficiency and yield of the plants. Project are currently experimenting with the way plants photosynthesise to maximise their use of sunlight. 
In a field of plants, the upper leaves are far more productive than the lower ones as they receive the most light. But if the genetics of a plant could be altered to make its leaves more transparent, the crop might grow more efficiently.

Agroforestry, or the integration of forests and farming, has been practised in some form for centuries. With climate change driving more extreme weather, the benefits are mounting for both livestock and crops. 
Trees on agricultural plots reduce landslide risk, for instance. As well, "the right design will provide very good shade for livestock and for crops. They will help slow the wind and help slow evapotranspiration rates [the combined rate at which water is lost to the atmosphere from the ground and from plants], improving the crop water efficiency. So they act as a bit of an insurance policy against drought" The benefits extend year-round. 

One type of agroforestry, silvopasture, interlaces trees and shrubs with pasture. Such land, including both the trees and the soil beneath the woody biomass, can sequester five to 10 times more carbon. However, the potential for increasing carbon sequestration depends on the conditions of the site. For instance, it may be less effective in areas that already have large amounts of soil organic carbon. Because trees are such powerful stores of carbon, their presence on degraded agricultural land makes good use of such land.

The mixture also helps diversify the output of a farm. The trees can generate other foods like nuts and mushrooms while the livestock graze between the trees.
"The systems have the potential to increase forage and wood biomass while promoting income diversification and contributing to food security, the restoration of degraded lands and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions" 

It doesn't take as long as you might expect for the trees to start paying for themselves. Within two or three years, there can be visible benefits in terms of reducing soil erosion and providing shelter for livestock.

On a broader level, this approach to agriculture, "Not only has it got the climate benefits, but it's also helping to address the nature crisis", if native tree species are cultivated and plantation-style planting is avoided. "The same trees that are capturing some carbon, and helping the farm to adapt to climate change, are also delivering for nature"

Nurturing trees on farms isn't just about planting trees, which is far from a panacea. Planted trees can hoover up water and intensify drought in dry regions, for instance. Natural forest regeneration – essentially, leaving forested areas alone – can be a cheaper and more effective way to harmonise trees and space for livestock.

"We have to be careful with trees. Yet silvopasture remains an underappreciated form of agriculture that, if approached thoughtfully, can help address a whole wide range of issues and provide a whole wide range of benefits"

Dairy and cattle production releases 37% of global methane emissions, making it one of the biggest agricultural greenhouse gases contributors.

By introducing methanogenic bacteria to farm slurry and dairy waste, one can collect biogas to use as a clean fuel, and the remaining waste can be spread on the fields as an alternative fertiliser. 

While livestock farming can be made more climate-friendly, reducing the amount of animal farming – at least in industrialised countries with intensive animal agriculture operations – will make an enormous difference to greenhouse gas emissions.

Future of Agriculture has recommended reduced consumption and production of animal products, for example. And elsewhere, other farmers are already taking the initiative. Some transition farmers are even betting on cannabis as a more lucrative alternative to poultry.

Even so, demand for plant-based products is exploding. Diversified produce farms can be more profitable than the previous meat and dairy operations. However, these tend to depend on non-produce income, such as farm tours and events. 

Whatever form it takes, the call must be for the focus to be on food for people. "If you do food not feed – the food for the humans on the field, not to fatten up animals – then on a small scale you can feed so many more people" As the population rises along with global temperatures, sustainably producing more food for more people will be a pressing priority.

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
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We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
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30 Oct 2021
Govt failed to protect and provide for Small Micro Farmers & Businesses
Govt failed to protect and provide for Small Micro Farmers & Businesses

How Covid Created a Feast for the Big Guys ...
and a Famine for the Little Guys ...

It left big food producers laughing all the way to the bank, while small farmers, fishers and traders suffered ...
Informal traders were cut off from the permits they needed to work during lockdown, while government aid propped up big food businesses.

Findings from an in-depth study on how Covid-19 lockdowns affected food systems have been revealed ...
They found the government response “protected and insulated commercial farming and corporate-owned businesses” at the expense of the informal sector, which plays a big role in food systems.

Small-scale farmers, fishers and traders have suffered huge business losses under Covid-19, depriving poor consumers of a crucial source of cheap, nutritious food.
This happened “while large, corporate food producers and retailers have reaped the profits”

The study focused on fresh produce in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and fish in the Western Cape.
According to the report, as much as a quarter of all food and an even greater proportion of fresh produce is bought from informal traders. 
The sector also provides livelihoods or part-livelihoods for 2.5-million small-scale and part-time farmers, 80,000 small-scale fishers and fish processors, and 750,000 street traders. 
“The small-business sector is large and crucial in providing livelihoods to millions of South Africans and needs to be recognised as such" 
Also, by offering food at lower prices, informal traders free up money in consumers’ pockets so their other basic needs can be met.
The research found that “street traders, sourcing food from municipal markets and directly from farmers, sell fresh produce at prices far below supermarket prices and create more livelihoods for low-income people in the process, including in the areas of employment-intensive production and processing, as well as in the transport and retail sectors”. 
Similarly, “artisanal fishers and local fish processors and traders play a key role in coastal communities, creating livelihoods and ensuring a supply of high-protein seafood at the local level”.
This backlash for informal traders in the food system took place against a backdrop of the only sector that grew.

In the first year of Covid-19 the economy contracted by 7%.
Bad Government decisions exasperated the rising inequality among the millions of people who derive their livelihoods from the production, processing, trade and sale of food and food products”

Mobility forever changed by the Covid pandemic ...
A ‘human cloud’ now works from home, supply chains have been reconfigured and lockdowns have affected everyone.

The researchers found that while supermarkets, food processors and commercial farms were largely able to sustain their businesses, small-scale farmers and fishers “lost access to markets as a result of a prohibition on street trade, curfews and a lack of storage and refrigeration — and also because of the collapse of the hospitality and tourism sector to which they had previously provided food”
Added to this was that the sale of cooked food on the streets continued to be prohibited even after restaurants reopened. 

Consumers also suffered, said the researchers. “The rising cost of a household ‘food basket’ of 44 items exceeded the R350 social relief provided by the so-called ‘Covid Grant’
“In other words, depending on household size, much or all of the ‘relief’ went to cover food price increases and thus failed to benefit households struggling with income losses, as jobs and livelihoods fell away under the pandemic” 

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
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29 Oct 2021
Earthworms
Earthworms

Keep Earthworms to Improve Soil Quality ...

Earthworms play a crucial role in improving soil quality, and every farmer should try to maintain a healthy population of these remarkable creatures.

Did You Know ? ...
An earthworm breathes through its skin, which also gives off a lubricating fluid that makes moving through burrows easier.

Earthworms are long, segmented worms belonging to the phylum Annelida. More than 2 000 species have been identified to date, and 300 of these have been recorded in South Africa.

A mature earthworm has a clitellum (a belt-like swelling) that forms part of its reproduction system.
It contains both male and female reproductive organs, but cannot fertilise itself.
Copulation takes place at night on the soil surface.
The worms press their bodies together and exchange sperm before separating. Later, the clitellum produces a ring of mucus around the worm.
As the worm crawls out of the ring, it fills the ring with eggs and sperm.
The ring then drops off and becomes a cocoon for the developing eggs. Each cocoon produces up to 18 earthworms. The tiny immature worms emerge from the eggs fully formed. They develop sex organs within the first two or three months of life and reach full size in about a year.

Earthworms are classified into three groups according to their behaviour and habitat:
• Epigeic earthworms do not tunnel, but live on the soil surface, where they feed on decomposing plant and animal material.
• Endogeic earthworms make horizontal tunnels in the top 10cm to 30cm of soil. They ingest soil, absorbing nutrients from organic material in the soil.
• Anecic earthworms dig deep into the soil profile during the day, and surface at night to feed and deposit their casts (droppings) on the surface.

How earthworms help the farmer ...
Earthworms tunnel through the upper layers of soil in a constant search for food, and this improves soil structure.
The tunnels aerate the soil and help with water drainage, and the action of tunnelling loosens the soil.

Earthworms also perform the following useful functions:
• They pull organic material down into the soil, which improves soil quality. In addition, nutrients in the organic material they consume are released for the plants to use.
• Earthworm castings give the soil an ideal, crumb-like texture. Studies have found that the casts contain more nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium than is present in the surrounding soil.
• Earthworms help control nematode populations as well as pathogenic fungi in soil, ingesting these together with the organic material. 
On the other hand, the earthworms’ presence stimulates microbial activity. “Good soil microbiology is very important as soil micro-organisms and enzymes regulate nutrient cycling” 

The ideal habitat ...
Earthworm populations are dependent on the physical (temperature, moisture, aeration and texture) and chemical properties (pH) of the soil, as well as food availability.
Earthworms are less abundant in disturbed soils and are typically active only when enough moisture is present. Biological factors such as predators can also play a role in the success of an earthworm population, as a wide variety of animals, including rats, birds, moles, snakes, frogs, snails, toads, ants and beetles, feed on them.
The best habitat for earthworms is untilled soil, as this contains more plant residue, which earthworms feed on. Under tillage, the worms suffer and their benefits are greatly reduced.
In short, to increase the earthworm population, you need to reduce soil disturbance. Here are some other aspects to consider:

Crop rotation ...
Crop rotation with legumes increases earthworm numbers by providing a quality food source.

Soil pH ...
A low pH will lower the worms’ survival rate.

Irrigation ...
Good irrigation and drainage, particularly in sandy and clayey soils, as well as the addition of organic material, help make conditions favourable for earthworms.

All TOXIC Chemicals are harmful to earthworms. 
A farmer following conservation agriculture practices can use earthworm numbers as an indicator of soil quality.

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
on +27 72 387 2293
We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
Twitter : @GreenAgricThe
Email : Sales@GreenAgric.com
Please visit GreenAgric's Website ...
https://GreenAgric.com

Open 7 to 7 - 7 days a week ...

We look forward to hearing from you soon ...




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