Tag Archives: agriculture

GREAT Free Food Series

Week 7 | Wednesday, February 28: Food and Farmers With Guest Speakers Judith Redmond and Craig McNamara

One of the most opaque relationships in the food system lies behind the relationship between eaters and the farmers who make it possible for us to eat. This class aims to bridge the connection by exploring life as a farmer.

Judith Redmond is a native Californian who has been farming in Northern California since 1989.  She is one of four owners of Full Belly Farm where a diverse assortment of fruits, nuts, and vegetables are grown, sheep and chickens are pastured, and training for interns and children’s educational programming is offered.

Craig McNamara is the president and owner of Sierra Orchards, a diversified farming operation producing primarily organic walnuts. Craig serves as the founder Center for Land-Based Learning, the President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, on the UC President’s Advisory Commission and the UC Davis Dean’s Advisory Council. He is an advisory board member of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, and active in the American Farmland Trust, Roots of Change, and the Public Policy Institute of California.

Edible Education 101 meets at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in the Anderson Auditorium on Wednesday evenings from 6:15-8PM Pacific Time. You can watch the conversation live online or join us in class on campus. Participation to the community is free of charge.


Greenhouse Gases and Agriculture

Increased growth in agricultural production has resulted in increased agricultural greenhouse gas emissions—with a huge proportion of emissions coming from livestock production.

Agriculture is the third largest contributor to global emissions by sector, with methane accounting for just under half of total agricultural emissions, nitrous oxide for 36 percent, and carbon dioxide for some 14 percent.
Enteric fermentation or the digestion of organic materials by livestock is the largest source of agricultural emissions overall, contributing 37 percent of the total.
One way to reduce agricultural emissions is for people to minimize their consumption of meat and dairy products.
Related Posts

In 2010, global greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector totaled 4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxideequivalent, up 13 percent over 1990. Agriculture is the THIRD largest contributor to global emissions by sector, following the burning of fossil fuels for power and heat, and transportation. In 2010, emissions from electricity and heat production reached 12.5 billion tons, and emissions from transport totaled 6.7 billion tons.

Agriculture harvesting

Despite their continuing rise, emissions from agriculture are growing at a much slower rate than the sector as a whole, demonstrating the increasing carbon efficiency of agriculture. From 1990 to 2010, the volume of agricultural production overall increased nearly 23 percent, according to data compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for its program, FAOSTAT. FAO released a new Greenhouse Gas Emissions database for agriculture, forestry and other land use changes in December 2012, which can be found here.

According to FAO, methane accounts for just under half of total agricultural emissions, nitrous oxide for 36 percent, and carbon dioxide for some 14 percent. The largest source of methane emissions is enteric fermentation, or the digestion of organic materials by livestock, predominantly beef cattle. This is also the largest source of agricultural emissions overall, contributing 37 percent of the total.

Livestock contribute to global emissions in other ways as well. Manure deposited and left on pastures is a major source of nitrous oxide emissions because of its high nitrogen content. When more nitrogen is added to soil than is needed, bacteria convert the extra nitrogen into nitrous oxide and release it into the atmosphere. Emissions from manure on pasture in Asia, Africa, and South America together account for as much as 81 percent of global emissions from this source. These emissions from the three regions increased 42 percent on average between 1990 and 2010, reflecting an increase in range-based livestock populations; elsewhere, these emissions either decreased or stagnated.

Carbon dioxide emissions from cultivated organic soils account for some 14 percent of total agricultural emissions, with Asia contributing 54 percent of these emissions. Deforestation and clearing for agricultural land in many tropical South and Southeast Asian countries are a leading cause of these emissions. Asia is home to four out of the top five countries with the highest CO2 emissions from cultivated organic soils, with Indonesia contributing 279 million tons, Papua New Guinea 41 million tons, Malaysia 35 million tons, and Bangladesh 31 million tons.

These data clearly indicate that livestock production accounts for an enormous share of global greenhouse gas emissions. Together, emissions from enteric fermentation, manure left on pastures, manure applied to soils, cropland devoted to feed production, and manure treated in management systems contribute more than 80 percent of total emissions. Meanwhile, emissions related to the direct human consumption of food crops represent less than 20 percent of the total.

One obvious way to reduce agricultural emissions is for people to minimize their consumption of meat and dairy products. This would help stabilize or shrink livestock populations, lessen the pressure to clear additional land for livestock, and reduce the proportion of grain that is grown for livestock feed instead of for direct human consumption.

Farmers and landowners have numerous opportunities to mitigate these impacts as well, bringing environmental and even economic co-benefits. For example, applying fertilizer more efficiently, precisely, and at times when plants can absorb it can significantly reduce nitrous oxide emissions while lowering fertilizer costs. Planting fallow fields with nitrogen-fixing legume crops—such as soybeans, alfalfa, and clover—can also naturally rebuild nitrogen and other nutrients in soils.

Growing trees and woody perennials on land can sequester carbon while simultaneously helping to restore soils, reduce water contamination, and provide beneficial wildlife habitat. Reducing soil tillage can also rebuild soils while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Some practices can even result in increased income for farmers: “cap-and-trade” programs allow farmers to monetize and sell certain sequestration practices, while government programs like the U.S. Conservation Reserve Program pay farmers to set aside some of their land for long-term restoration. As detailed in the 2012 Worldwatch report, Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture: Supporting Climate-Friendly Food Production, many mitigation practices use existing and accessible technologies and can be implemented immediately.

Read the full report at Vital Signs Online.

Laura Reynolds is a Food and Agriculture Staff Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute

California Budget and Ag Land

However you feel about subsidies, raising beef, tax cuts, you should take a look at the Williamson Act it provides protection and tax incentives for saving our state’s agricultural heritage.
IT IS BEING REVIEWED NOW… during our budget deficit.

If this protection is taken away, then many ranchers will divide up their plots making them easier for housing and other uses. It is essential to keep our agricultural land, we provide food for the United States as a whole, the ag land also provides habitat for many species of bird, fish, amphibian, lizards and plants. For example, if one of the big ranches of say  7000 acres is  broken is to 10 pieces a few of them will be developed as residential, that land is then LOST  for open space, high speed rail, parks, and so many other beneficial uses. Our population is changing, our work/play patterns are shifting, let’s not close down huge options we will need in the future.  This is NOT an issue that will just affect growers and grazers, ask anyone who is planning on high speed rail in this state.  OPEN LAND = OPTIONS.

The agricultural land is important not only because it feeds us but also because it allows us to make choices in use.  We want to be independent, self sustaining and strong as a state, we must keep our agricultural lands and ranches protected.