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9 January 2019

Scientists breathalyze cows to measure methane emissions

Cattle burps are the number two source of methane in the U.S., but it’s tricky to measure exactly how much methane one cow produces in a day. That’s why researchers at the USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas set out to use a number of different methane assessment methods — including a “breathalyzer for cows” — to determine the methane emissions of free-range cattle on Oklahoma grasslands.

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9 January 2018

Elections may be a catalyst for deforestation, new research suggests

Democratic elections may be a catalyst for deforestation, according to new research. A study that examined deforestation rates during election years found that competitive elections are associated with higher rates of deforestation. The reason? Politicians are trading trees for votes, according to the researchers.

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22 December 2017

Scientists engineer microbes to form ‘memories’ of their environment

Microbes like bacteria aren’t conscious enough to form memories, but a group of scientists in Texas developed a new way for them to do so at the genetic level. Researchers report they’ve successfully engineered microbes to report on their environments and form genetic “memories” of the event. It’s a tool that could help scientists better understand chemical cycling on Earth and how microbes share information like antibiotic resistance with one another, according to the researchers.

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29 August 2017

Unprecedented levels of nitrogen could pose danger to Earth’s environment

Humankind’s contribution to the amount of nitrogen available to plants on land is now five times higher than it was 60 years ago, mainly due to increases in the synthetic production of fertilizer and nitrogen-producing crops, according to a new study. This increase in nitrogen parallels the exponential growth of atmospheric carbon, the main culprit behind climate change, and could pose as much of a danger to Earth’s environment, according to the study’s authors.

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17 May 2017

Researchers track groundwater loss during drought in California’s Central Valley

A new study from researchers at UCLA and the University of Houston reveals estimates of significant groundwater loss in California’s Central Valley during the recent drought and sparks questions of sustainability for the important agricultural area.

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12 April 2017

One-fifth of world’s population depends on food imports

Countries unable to feed their growing populations are increasingly importing food to meet demand, a new study finds. Nearly half of the world’s population lives in areas where imports compensate for food scarcity and one-fifth of the world now depends upon these imports to survive, according to the new study.

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13 January 2017

Scientists try to mitigate methane, from cows

There are about 33 million cattle in Mexico, where a few scientists are experimenting to concoct a cow diet that will reduce methane emissions.

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28 December 2015

Storm runoff could help replenish dwindling California aquifers

Depleted groundwater supplies in the parched state of California have left many communities scrambling to secure water for the future. Now, researchers have a plan to recharge groundwater aquifers in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties with runoff captured from rainstorms. Using models that carefully characterize the region, they produced maps highlighting the best sites for stormwater capture in their own backyards.

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1 September 2015

High water tables can be a boon to crop yields

High water tables can be a bane to crop yields, compelling many farmers to drain their fields so their crops don’t drown when it rains.

But a high water table may not always be a bad thing. A new study shows it is actually a boon for some fields and during certain times of the growing season, casting light on opportunities for improving yield efficiency to meet global food demands.

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19 December 2014

New Zealand watersheds show the dirt on logging and grazing

Grazing animals and logging trees in New Zealand could affect water quality there, according to scientists working to determine how water quality problems in the country relate to land use.

The results could help guide water-friendly policy in New Zealand and other parts of the world, according to Jason Julian, a geographer at Texas State University.

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