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Climate-smart agriculture: responding to the challenge

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Agriculture generates 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s planes, trains and automobiles combined. With this in mind, Bill Meredith, head of agriculture at the University of Lincoln, describes how the industry is responding to environmental challenges.

How can mankind feed a rapidly growing population without destroying the planet? It is a question that tends to polarise the scientific community, with one camp favouring the intensification of agriculture and the other promoting low input systems such as organic farming.

There is a broad consensus, however, that we require a sustainable system that ensures the efficient use of key resources including fuel, fertiliser and water. Improvements in efficiency of resource use will not only conserve dwindling supplies, but will also reduce pollution and the degradation of rivers and lakes.

It’s hardly surprising that irrigation accounts for the biggest single use of water. The critical role of water in sustaining global food supplies should not be under estimated. Climate change is predicted not only to give rise to greater desertification globally, but also to cause an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, including the occurrence of drought conditions in more temperate European climes.

In the UK, the Government’s Foresight report calls for “climate-smart” agriculture, which uses less fossil fuels and employs techniques that sequester carbon dioxide, such as growing plants with larger roots and creating a better balance between agriculture and forestry.

Farmers in Eastern England are coping with drought conditions for the second year running. Cropping plans and agronomic practices are being adapted to minimise moisture stress during the growing season.

More drought tolerant crops such as barley are being considered as alternatives to wheat. And where wheat must be grown, faster maturing varieties and those with longer straws, which are less susceptible to stress, are favoured.

Non-inversion cultivation systems are preferable to conventional ploughing systems in terms of retaining soil moisture, and earlier sowing tends to result in better rooted, more resilient crops. The use of organic manure and compost also improves moisture retention and soil structure.

Careful timing of fertilisers and fungicides will also improve drought tolerance. Some of the newer fungicides—the SDHIs and strobilurins—have been found to have physiological effects on crops; research by ADAS shows that treated crops use in the order of 25% less water to produce each tonne of grain.

Over recent decades, the amount of funding that has gone into agricultural research in the UK has declined, but this trend is now being reversed. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is directing £100m into a food security programme that includes funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and other government departments.

The University of Lincoln is currently researching the use of silicon based products, specifically for improving the drought tolerance of wheat crops. Previous studies have suggested that silicon can alleviate drought stress damage and improve shoot growth. The Lincoln project will show whether improved growth translates into higher yields in drought conditions.

Plant breeding has always played an important role in improving agricultural productivity and there is currently a lot of interest in improving drought tolerance. The Food and Environment Research Agency have recently announced that it will be leading on ABSTRESS, a £2.5m European project designed to improve the way in which pea varieties are bred to resist moisture stress and disease.

The use of genetic modification (GM) to rapidly introduce desirable agronomic traits remains a contentious issue, particularly within Europe. UK scientists at Rothamsted Research, funded by the BBRSC, are currently trialling a GM wheat crop with a novel form of resistance to aphids. The wheat has been modified to produce a non-toxic odour which repels aphids, but attracts their native predators.

More efficient use of water through improved irrigation systems—reducing evaporation and run-off losses—is another priority.

Cranfield University is leading a DEFRA-funded benchmarking initiative to enable farmers to compare their individual field irrigation performance against others to improve efficiency. Improvements could include changing irrigation equipment, installing meters at key control points and better timing of water application.

UK farmers have been quick to embrace the latest technology to improve their productivity. The adoption of precision agriculture systems using GPS technology is a good example of how the industry is responding to the challenge of more efficient resource use by targeting inputs more accurately.

Whether advances in technology and the ‘sustainable intensification’ of agriculture will be sufficient to meet the looming food security crisis remains uncertain, but investing in climate-smart farming that uses resources more efficiently must be a step in the right direction.

Further reading:

The role of agriculture in promoting a sustainable economy

Government “must do better” in farming

EU to recognise farming and forestry role in climate change

Farming to meet environmental challenges

EU-US agree organic partnership

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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