The role of earthworms in sustainable agriculture

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Sustainable agriculture means the production of food from plants or animals using different agricultural techniques that protect communities, the environment, and animal welfare. The extensive use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers to boost crop yields may have resulted in good yields and productivity, but it has caused the efficiency of the soil to deteriorate throughout the world day-by-day.…
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Can farms maintain productivity while reducing pesticide use?

A new UN report states that it is dangerously misleading to suggest that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security. Instead, the report recommends that farms reduce pesticide use and adopt sustainable practices that protect crops from pests by enhancing biodiversity and natural enemies. This agroecological approach eliminates reliance on, and exposure to, expensive and toxic…
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Assessing risks to make informed decisions for safeguarding the health of humans, animals and plants

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Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI Switzerland For the first time since 2000, the World Trade Organisation hosted an international workshop on developments in pest risk analysis (PRA) in October 2014. The previous workshop was held only four years after the signing of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement).…
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Crop diversification finds home for ‘orphan crops’

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The term ‘orphan crops’ refers to plant species and varieties that of recent decades have been ignored by governments, seed companies and scientists due to their limited importance in global markets. Instead, only a few major staples have been of interest. From fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts, many orphan crops are highly nutritious,…
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Could Food Insecure Africa Have Found a Saviour in Farming God’s Way?

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Proponents term it the long awaited messiah that food-insecure Africa has been yearning for! ‘Farming God’s way’ promises to end fertilizer woes of resource-poor farmers in the continent by providing a cheaper and less labour intensive farming method. Food security remains the number one major challenge that citizens across the African continent contend with. While…
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New Video: Interview with Plant Doctor Kija Edith, Tanzania

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Contributed by Stefan Toepfer, CABI Switzerland with Peter Karanja, CABI Africa Tanzanian frontline agricultural extension workers had an opportunity to refresh and improve their skills in diagnosing crop health problems of small holder farmers during a practical training course in Morogoro, Tanzania. This was part of a set of trainings provided by Plantwise Tanzania, which…
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Agroecology – benefiting farmers around the world

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This week, the UK Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, David Heath, has announced his support for the use of agroecological farming methods which are seen as the foundation of sustainable agriculture. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD) define agroecology as “the science and practice of applying ecological concepts and principles…
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Is sustainable agriculture the answer to climate change?

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As the most recent set of climate change talks draw to a close, the focus is once again on the policies that could help in the resolution of this global issue. There has been little faith in the outcomes of these talks before, with targets continuously missed. The conference aims to secure a new treaty…
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Earthworm-farmer friendship, redefined

Earthworms are known as farmers’ best friends because of the multitude of services they provide that improve soil health and consequently plant health. The density of earthworms in the soil is considered to be a good indicator of a healthy soil because they improve many soil attributes like structure, water holding capacity, moisture content etc.,…
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Ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification

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Our first guest blog is from Professor Tim Benton. Tim is Professor of Ecology at the University of Leeds, where his research interests focus around agriculture-ecological interactions.  He also currently has a role as “Champion” for the UK’s Global Food Security programme which aims to coordinate food security related research across the major public funders.
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