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Conservationists Playing with Fire

By Julie Kunen

For millennia, tropical civilizations cultivated their crops through a practice known as slash and burn agriculture. In this practice, vegetation is cut down and burned to clear land and improve the soil with the resulting organic matter and nutrients. Fire also kills or drives away pests and encourages the regeneration of grasses in natural pastures. When used over extensive areas in a cycle of planted and fallowed fields, the practice is sustainable. Today, many agricultural communities that lack access to machinery and chemical inputs depend upon fire for their livelihoods, using it to clear and maintain the fertility of agricultural lands and to delimit property boundaries. Yet, fire is also a great danger to humans and there are many risks associated with the use of fire as a land management tool.

WWF’s Living Planet Report echoed on the Great Barrier Reef

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic News Watch blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world. Text and photos by iLCP Fellow James Morgan For decades, the Great Barrier Reef has enjoyed World Heritage Status and been…

Flooding the Landscape: The Site C Dam on B.C.’s Peace River

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic News Watch blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world. Text and Photos by iLCP Fellow Garth Lenz. As the small Piper Super Cub climbs, this beautiful valley spreads out below…

Geography in the News: Worldwide Wheat Production

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Geography in the NewsTM The Role of Wheat in Worldwide Agriculture Wheat is the principal grain used to make most breads and pastries. Grown mostly in the middle latitudes and Northern Hemisphere, annual wheat harvests are watched carefully. As the “staff of life” to multitudes, annual harvest assessments…

Searching for Sustainabile Clothing in India

Andrew Flachs researchers the trials of Indian farmers and their rush toward modern farming practices, such as GMO crops and new pesticides. With time to reflect on his journey, he explains why these farmers do what they do, and why the question of how to approach farming is a complex one.

CA Farmers Find Unlikely Ally In Weathering Drought: A Major Utility Company

By Peyton Fleming Senior Communications Director, Ceres Joe Segura works for the electric and gas utility PG&E, but he sounds more like a farmer when you spend time with him. Driving around the drought-parched San Joaquin Valley here in California’s Central Valley, Segura winces as he describes groundwater wells “being sucked dry” and drives by…

Growing A Solution To California’s Groundwater Crisis

By Peyton Fleming Senior Communications Director, Ceres Three years before the California drought became a national crisis, national berry giant Driscoll’s, on the state’s Central Coast, knew it had a major problem with water. It was disappearing. As a result, water rights lawsuits had become commonplace, water rates were rising again and the precious liquid…

Late Monsoons and Agricultural Improvisation in Telangana, India

Andrew Flachs researchers the trials of Indian farmers and their rush toward modern farming practices, such as GMO crops and new pesticides. In this post, he waits patiently with them for the rains as they hope and prepare.

Climate Change Joins Lions and Livestock in an Unlikely Partnership

In the coming years, climate change will transform the world in ways that we have not predicted. The king of the big cats has already survived two major periods of change, but with humans quickly taking over valuable grassland habitat, will they be able to survive another? On the Maasai Steppe of Tanzania, lions have…

States, Studies React to EPA Rule Release

On the coattails of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, the White House issued a report on the health effects of climate change. The seven-page report outlines six major risks linked to rising temperatures—asthma, lung and heart illnesses; infectious disease; allergies; flooding-related hazards and heat stroke. But one week after release of the…

The Quest For Sustainable Corn In Iowa

Ames, Iowa  – They don’t call it “The Corn State” for nothing. Within minutes of driving outside Des Moines, the landscape opens up. No hills. No buildings. Just farms. Sprawling farms, much of them planted with corn. And those tiny green shoots emerging last month from the dark rich soil represent a vast bounty. In…

June 8, 2014: Diving From 90 Feet Above Havana Bay, Free the Dancing Bears and More

This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson and his guests as they run for peace through the Middle East, honor hero war dogs, play matchmaker for dolphins, safely cycle through crowded city streets, pick the perfect outdoor gear, dive from 90 foot cliffs competitively, recover a 500 year old sunken ship, farm the planet’s oceans, and save a species and a community at the same time.

Can Spider Venom Save the Honeybee?

A new pesticide based on the venom of a particular spider kills common agricultural pests but leaves honeybees unharmed, a new study says.

Geography in the News: Svalbard Global Seed Vault

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Geography in the NewsTM Svalbard’s “Doomsday Seed Vault” The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nicknamed the “Doomsday Seed Vault” by some, has opened its doors and is accepting seeds. The seed vault was created to preserve samples of seeds from around the world to protect the earth’s crop diversity.…

My Return to the Future of Farming: Organic and Genetically Modified Cotton in India

Andrew Flachs searches India for answers to hard questions at the intersection of technology, agriculture, and society.