Plant hormone helps metabolize pesticides

A new study out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests a natural remedy to the negative effects of pesticides to plants.  A group of plant hormones called brassinosteroids have been shown to reduce the toxicity of crops, if they’re doused with it before pesticide application. Jing Quan Yu of Zhejiang University and his colleagues treated cucumber plants with one type of brassinosteroid, then sprayed them with...

Read More

Human-induced erosion as powerful as glaciers

Soil erosion in a wheat field near Washington State University. Soil erosion has always been a big problem for ecosystems, and often increases with decreased ecosystem health, such as the dry conditions often encouraged by climate change. We normally think of rivers and glaciers as the most powerful eroders, but a study out today in Nature Geoscience finds that agriculture can erode the landscape at rates comparable to glaciers and...

Read More

Omega-3′s might reduce methane ‘emissions’

This just in: Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy not just for you, but may also be good for the environment. We all read about the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids, found most commonly in fish oils in our diets. They buffer against cancer, reduce the risk of cardiac disease and may also improve brain and immune function.  But in a presentation at the meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Harrogate, UK today,...

Read More

The effectiveness of fire fuel reduction

An invited feature in this month’s issue of Ecological Applications focuses on the U.S. National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study, a five-year effort to assess the effectiveness of wildfire reduction methods currently in use by forest management agencies. The study compares the effectiveness of fire fuel reduction methods on restoring ecosystem health to national forests. Many U.S. forests once experienced frequent natural fires...

Read More

For now, forget biofuels in reserves

Ethanol as the next generation of alternative fuels has stirred significant controversy. While some tout its lower-than-gasoline greenhouse-gas emissions and its usefulness in creating carbon sinks in its agricultural fields, many other ecologists call ethanol production the most inefficient of alternative fuel options. Even the most optimistic scenarios still show that using current technologies, it can take years – in some...

Read More

USDA’s new Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets

The USDA announced today that it will establish an Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets.  According to their press release, the office will help develop new guidelines and methods to assess ecosystem service benefits and create markets for ecosystem services.  The authorization for this office was approved in this summer’s Farm Bill, which Agriculture Secretary Ed Shafer spoke out against. Ecosystem services are one way that...

Read More