- Author: Cheryl Getuiza
Reposted from California Economic Summit
Have you ever planted a seed, be it a plant, fruit or flower, and watched it grow? Patience is the key to seeing that seed sprout and reach its full potential.
In this case, the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) has planted the seed with its newest industry-cluster focused program called AgStart, combining the strength of California's tech and agriculture sectors.
Thanks to an i6 Challenge grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA), SARTA and UC Davis are working together to support, identify, invigorate and accelerate agriculture technology companies and entrepreneurs.
"Currently there is a huge, and growing, need for agriculture technology to increase productivity and yield, improve cost effectiveness, and enhance the efficient use of resources such as water, energy, and land,” said Meg Arnold, SARTA CEO. “Ag technologies can, among other things, turn farm waste into energy, improve the drought tolerance of crops, increase food safety, provide for integrated pest management, drive the efficient use of water, and so much more.”
AgStart covers an area of 11 counties around Sacramento from Kern to San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.
The plan for the first year will be to:
• Develop and maintain the first map of the region's ag tech companies. -- They’re already over halfway to their goal of identifying 120 tech companies by the end of the year.
• Host a PitchFest, a competition to highlight successful ag tech companies -- Finals are Thursday, September 19
• Represent the region at the prestigious Ag Innovation Showcase in Missouri, the largest ag tech showcase in the world.
• Bring the ag innovation sector to SARTA's long-standing CleanStart Showcase in October.
"We are working with ag tech companies in their research and development,” said Dough Kohl, Program Director, AgStart. “We are making leadership series available, we are seeing where we can help introduce them to investors, as well as others in the ag tech industry who they might partner with and guiding them along the way to bring them to that next level.”
- Author: Marissa Palin
If organic agriculture isn't the answer, what about practices close to organic agriculture? What about sustainable agriculture? Can sustainable agriculture feed the world? According to Mark Bittman of the New York Times, it certainly can.
According to Bittman, "Anyone who opens his or her eyes sees a natural world so threatened by industrial agriculture that it’s tempting to drop off the grid and raise a few chickens." But sustainable agriculture practices, such as agro-ecology, immediately help support small farmers in less expensive and more productive ways, and make the system less susceptible to climate shocks.
Even the World Bank supports a shift to more sustainable agricultural practices. Their International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development Report, calls on sustainable practices as a solution to poverty, food security, malnutrition and poor health, environmental degradation, and more.
Anna Lappe, author and food activist, also argues in favor of sustainable agriculture as a means to feeding our growing population. Her short video "Can Sustainable Agriculture Feed the World" markets itself as a myth-buster against large-scale industrial agriculture.
What do you think? Can we feed the world with sustainable agriculture alone?
- Author: Marissa Palin
PROVIDENCE, R.I., June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators. Yet, major declines in bee populations threaten the availability of many fresh ingredients consumers rely on for their dinner tables.
To raise awareness of just how crucial pollinators are to our food system, the University Heights Whole Foods Market store temporarily removed all produce that comes from plants dependent on pollinators. They pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products – 52 percent of the department's normal product mix.
Products removed included:
- Summer squash
- Green onions
- Bok choy
- Broccoli rabe
- Mustard greens
To help support honeybee populations, for every pound of organic summer squash sold at Whole Foods Market stores from June 12-25 the company will donate 10 cents to The Xerces Society for pollinator preservation.
"Pollinators are a critical link in our food system. More than 85% of earth's plant species – many of which compose some of the most nutritional parts of our diet – require pollinators to exist. Yet we continue to see alarming declines in bee numbers," said Eric Mader, assistant pollinator conservation director at The Xerces Society. "Our organization works with farmers nationwide to help them create wildflower habitat and adopt less pesticide-intensive practices. These simple strategies can tip the balance back in favor of bees."
More information available online./span>
- Author: Marissa Palin
A lot actually. UC researchers are working with farmers across the state to find ways to reduce their impact.
For example, water. Water is one of the biggest concerns in California - both quantity and quality. The San Joaquin River is the second largest water supplier, but also one of the more impaired water bodies. UC researchers have started working with farmers to restore wetlands and using them as agriculture buffers. This natural protection mechanism is preventing nitrates from reaching the San Joaquin River, and has helped stabilized nitrate levels in our drinking water.
Bovine Bubbles are another great example. UC researchers are using bovine bubbles to study the amount of greenhouse gasses cows produce, and how to reduce it. In the process, they've discovered that cows produce 3.4% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, contrary to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization report in 2006 that stated livestock contributes 18% of global emissions.
"There's no other country in the world that uses fewer animals to produce a given amount of food than what we do here," says Frank Mitloehner, UC Air Quality Extension Specialist.
For example, in California, one cow equals 20,000 lbs of milk. In Mexico, one cow equals 4,000 lbs of milk, and in India, only 500 lbs of milk.
"From now on, every 11 years we add another billion people to the world population. Within my lifetime, the human population has doubled. And here comes the big problem: the land that we use to feed all the people in the world...is a set amount and cannot be increased," says Mitloehner.
It all comes back to sustainability. Can California continue to lead in agricultural sustainability? Will we be able to continue to increase yields to feed our growing population, while protecting and preserving our natural resources?
Comment below, and sign up for next week's Global Food Systems Forum live webinar to join the conversation.
- Author: Marissa Palin
The study also included researchers from Arcadia Biosciences and Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, India.
The finding is particularly important to the nearly $2 billion lettuce industries of California and Arizona, which together produce more than 90 percent of the nation's lettuce.
"Discovery of the genes will enable plant breeders to develop lettuce varieties that can better germinate and grow to maturity under high temperatures," said the study's lead author Kent Bradford, a professor of plant sciences and director of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center.
"And because this mechanism that inhibits hot-weather germination in lettuce seeds appears to be quite common in many plant species, we suspect that other crops also could be modified to improve their germination," he said. "This could be increasingly important as global temperatures are predicted to rise."
With California temperatures predicted to rise by 2.7F by 2050, this study could prove to be extremely vital to California agriculture.