Posts Tagged ‘Five Series’


Five Rainforest Ecosystem Services that Nourish People and the Planet

Pin It

By Ioulia Fenton

From wetlands to coral reefs, the Earth’s diverse ecosystems support and regulate many of the planet’s most critical natural processes. They also contribute important cultural, social, and economic benefits to human communities. These contributions, known more broadly as “ecosystem services,” are estimated to be worth trillions of dollars per year.

Rainforests provide vital ecosystem services that sustain all life on Earth. (Photo credit: National Geographic)

The world’s rainforest ecosystem services—such as increased rainfall, soil stability, and a regulated climate—are integral to the successful production of food in many parts of the world. Rainforests in the Amazon and the Congo, for example, support rainfall in key, surrounding agricultural areas.

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five ecosystem services that rainforests provide to people and the planet:

1. Nutrient cycling and soil formation. According to the Rainforest Conservation Fund, many of the world’s tropical rainforests live “on the edge,” meaning that they receive very few nutrient inputs from the outside and must produce most nutrients themselves. When left intact, a rainforest acts as a closed-loop system, recycling the nutrients it has created; without tree cover, however, these nutrients would be lost and the forest would not survive.



Five Tips for City Growers

Pin It

By Molly Redfield

Asphalt-strewn streets and blank-faced skyscrapers dominate city landscapes. But in recent years, cities have also become places where anything from rooftop pumpkin patches to herb-crowded windowsills flourish. With the right ingredients—healthy soil, enough sunlight, plenty of water, seeds, and, of course, the space to throw it all together—it seems as if urbanites can now grow a garden anywhere.

City gardeners must take into consideration uniquely urban concerns when growing food (Photo Credit: the Thrive Post)

But cities are still unique growing environments. Tall buildings can shade out the sun and block or redirect wind. Heavy metals or other pollutants may contaminate the soil. And space in a densely populated city might be difficult to come by. These are some of the concerns, among others, that urban agriculturalists must keep in mind to grow healthy and productive gardens.

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five tips that are especially relevant to farmers, gardeners, and other agriculturalists growing gardens in cities around the world.

Soil:Because many cities have a past of rapid industrialization, or are currently industrializing, their soils can contain toxic heavy metal byproducts such as lead or cadmium. Plants uptake these heavy metals through their roots and then incorporate them into their vegetative tissue. When people consume fruits, vegetables, and other products grown in toxic soils they are, often unknowingly, exposed to these contaminants. Children are especially vulnerable to heavy metals and, according to the World Health Organization, a blood lead concentration in children exceeding 10 µg/dL (micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood) is associated with cognitive impairment.

Urban growers have several ways to avoid contaminated soil. One method consists of simply overlaying healthy soils, manure, and loam over contaminated city ground. Instead of completely replacing soils, though, another remedial effort includes mixing organic matter and limestone with city soils. By decreasing the acidity of soils and making lead bind more readily to non-living organic matter, this technique prevents heavy metal uptake in plants. In fact, treating and replacing a depth of only seven inches of city soils can effectively protect the root layer of most common garden plants from heavy metals like lead. Lastly, growing produce out of raised beds or containers with healthy soil is another way for farmers to be certain that their produce is safe.



The Five Worst Drinks in America

Pin It

By Kimberlee Davies

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), between 1988 and 2008 the proportion of obese American adults increased from 23 percent to 35 percent. The CDC considers an adult with a “body mass index” (BMI) greater than 30 to be obese (for reference, a 5 foot 6 inch person would have to weigh at least 186 pounds to exceed a BMI of 30). Despite consuming all those calories, most Americans still do not eat enough fruits and veggies. In 2009, only 14 percent of American adults ate at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day. How can consumers fix this problem—and control their waistlines?

One simple step is to alter our liquid consumption. Many drinks are effectively liquid candy; the worst offender contains the caloric equivalent of three Big Macs. By reducing, replacing, or entirely cutting these beverages out of their diets, consumers can significantly decrease their sugar intake. Eat This, Not That! recently produced a list of the “20 Worst Drinks in America.” Here’s a list of the top five offenders and some suggestions for replacing them.

Photo credit: Men’s Health

1) The top culprit is Cold Stone’s 24 oz Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shake. That 24 oz cup packs in 1,750 calories, 140 grams (g) of sugar, and 64g of saturated fat. So what? That level of sugar is equivalent to 30 Chips Ahoy cookies, and the saturated fat rivals 68 strips of bacon. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic recommends a maximum of 16g to 22g of saturated fat per day (a third of that in this shake). They also recommended consuming only 30g to 45g of sugar daily for women and men respectively.

Try this instead: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana Smoothie! Freezing the bananas and yogurt beforehand gives the drink the texture of a milkshake. The tasty treat only has 350 calories and 31g of sugar. Cut out the honey and the sugar goes down to 22g.

Photo credit: Starbucks

2) Starbuck’s venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream provides a whopping 13g of saturated fat and 94g of sugar.

Replacement: The ideal coffee substitution is black coffee. With 5 calories, no sugar, and no fats, pure coffee is the healthier way to get your caffeine fix. If you can’t stand the bitterness, you can always add sugar and milk yourself (so you know exactly how much goes in the mug).


Photo credit: Mountain Dew

3) Mountain Dew is the top soda to avoid. In addition to its 77g of sugar, the sweet treat includes brominated vegetable oil (BVO) among its ingredients. BVO is used as a flame retardant in plastics and can build up in body fat. With stats like that, maybe the 48 percent of Americans that drink soda daily will consider a diet change.

A delicious and healthy replacement is homemade soda. While this may sound unbearably complicated, the beverage just requires mixing seltzer water and your favorite 100 percent fruit juice. The CDC recommends 2oz of orange juice with seltzer water for a refreshing 30 calorie drink. If daily soda drinkers switched to this concoction, they would knock out nearly 95,000 calories annually from their diet.

Photo credit: Rockstar

4) Rockstar Energy Drink takes the medal for the least healthy energy drink. Who needs caffeine for an energy charge when consuming the 62g of sugar in this caffeinated beverage? No wonder this drink is “not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women,” as stated on the label.

Replacement: Why not just stick with coffee and tea?




Photo credit: Wegmans

5) Possibly the least expected offender is SoBe Energize Green Tea. This bottle of tea has been saturated with 51g of sugar. Sugar lists far above green tea on the ingredients list.

As usual, the best alternative is to make tea at home. When you make something, you know exactly what has gone into it.

Over the last 50 years, Americans stopped viewing these beverages as irregular treats and started considering them as a way to meet their weekly, and sometimes daily, hydration needs. The Mayo Clinic recommends that a healthy adult consume between 8 and 13 cups of fluid per day. To decrease sugar and fat intake, Americans could exchange these sugary drinks for water. Consuming more water would lead to better hydration, less fatigue, and improved overall health.

Kimberlee Davies is an intern with the Nourishing the Planet project. 

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.


Five Sustainable and Fascinatingly Fun Pest Management Techniques

Pin It

By Ioulia Fenton

According to a recent report by the Pesticide Action Network, the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture is costly to human health and biodiversity: the effects of excessive exposure range from skin and eye irritation to disruptions of the immune system and death by poisoning. It is also increasingly expensive for farmers who have to keep up with pests’ natural ability to adapt to chemical formulas and resilience. But many farmers are abandoning chemicals for more natural methods that are not only chemical-free, but are also fascinating and fun.

Today, Nourishing the Planet presents five natural pest management innovations from around the world that use novel insect control techniques:

1.           Ducks in South Africa. No one likes to chew on a grape the way a snail does. Vineyards are prone to snail infestations that can threaten entire harvests, leading ordinary wine producers to rely on pesticides for protection. South Africa’s Avondale Wines, however, uses an entirely different method to control the slimy pest.

Every season, one hundred adult ducks wobble their way through 247 acres of Avondale vineyard rows, happily eating snails. “It is a natural alternative to your usual toxic, chemical-based snail control…and it works much more effectively,” says Avondale’s Johnathan (Jonty) Grieve in a YouTube video. The ducks are not only more efficient at getting rid of snails, but also do not leave behind the chemical residues unavoidable with traditional methods. Moreover, the duck’s precision—they only eat the snails, leaving the vineyard otherwise intact—helps preserve the harvest and maintain the natural harmony of the plants, animals, and organisms in the immediate environment.

2.           Arachnophilia in China’s cotton growing by the Yangtse. Protecting the health of farmers while helping them protect their crops is the mission of Dr. Zhao Jingzhao, President of China’s Hubei University. Building on ancient Chinese biological pest control methods and through nationwide research, he set out to find natural predators to the boll weevil, the major insect plaguing cotton farms near Wuhan on the Yangtze River, 1,000 kilometers south of Beijing. Dr. Zao found that the 600 natural enemies of the boll weevil that his team identified included over 100 varieties of spiders. Upon the discovery, the team immediately began to show farmers of the Hubei Province how to attract the eight-legged arachnids to their cotton fields—digging small holes in fields before planting the rice and providing plenty of grass cover for the spiders to hide in. As a result, the farmers have been able to cut down on chemical use by 80 percent, while their yields have increased. Read more in this article by Horizon Solutions.

3.           The Bug Wars in Thailand. According to the Thai Tapioca Starch Association, cassava—a woody, shrubby plant, widely cultivated in the Tropics for its starchy root—is worth around US$1.5 billion a year to Thailand’s farmers. But people are not the only ones who find this rich vegetable delicious—it is also eagerly devoured by an unruly pest called the mealy bug. According to the New York Times, in 2010, the infestation was so serious that it become nothing short of a plague. To fight this onslaught, the Thai government released a quarter of a million tiny parasitic wasps—the mealy bug’s natural predator—in the cassava fields of the Nakhon Ratchasima district to successfully control the problem.

4.           Spicing things up in Guatemala. To save money and help heal the land, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Guatemala is helping farmers discover ways to make pest-control preparations using free or cheap locally available ingredients. In workshops that engage community leaders, local representatives of FAO hold practical demonstrations that combine water with large amounts of crushed garlic and chiltepes—pinky-fingernail-sized highly spicy local chili peppers. The end result is an all-natural pesticide that can be sprayed regularly on plants to deter unwanted insects, birds, and animal gorgers naturally with its pungent odor and painful spice.

5.           Natural methods to minimize rice storage losses in India. It is not just on the farm that insects and other creatures can claim a share of a harvest. Storage of perishable goods such as rice, produced in India and other countries, is also prone to pest and fungi attacks. According to the German Transport Information Service, flour, drugstore, and spider beetles, as well as moths, rats, and mice, are all attracted to rice. The damage they cause leads to increased grain respiration—a chemical reaction that releases water vapor and warmth in the process of breaking down glucose into energy for the plant’s cells—which increases moisture and heat levels that facilitate bacteria growth and mold. Large losses of stored crops can occur if these are left unchecked. Meanwhile, fungicide and pesticide-treated grain—rice is often fumigated with an insecticide called methyl bromide—leaves chemical residues that could harm human health.

A global consortium of rice farmers and scientists recently found a mixed technology solution to this problem. The team came together under the EURIKA project, a multi-governmental European research initiative. According to the project, their novel combination of insect traps, better refrigeration, and use of natural gases to slow down pest development has been so successful—it saw a 95 percent decline in rice lost to pests during storage and transportation—that four companies are already using it to great effect. The method is also undergoing research into the solution’s applicability to reduce storage and transportation losses of many other grains besides rice.

Of course, using a single method to control one pest is not a panacea. In fact, even the most seemingly natural alternatives come with their own tradeoffs and possible negative side effects. According to National Geographic, for example, the introduction of the cane toad to control pests in Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries led to tragic consequences for many native species. Most of the methods above, however, are compatible with the wider principles of Integrated Pest Management that views the farm as an integrated, whole ecosystem and therefore uses natural methods of pest control that do not upset its overall balance.

Do you know of other fascinating, natural techniques that farmers use to control pests? Please share them in the comments below.

Ioulia Fenton is a Food and Agriculture Research Intern with Nourishing the Planet.

Nourishing the Planet has written extensively on integrated and reduced input pest management and other techniques. Check out these articles: What works: Reduced Input Pest Management; Innovation of the Week: Handling Pests with Care Instead of Chemicals; Five Ways to Get Rid of Pests Without Using Chemicals ; For Pest Control, Following Nature’s Lead, and Tiny Bugs to Solve Big Pest Problem.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.



Five Holistic Alternative Farming Methods: Agroecology at its Best

Pin It

By Ioulia Fenton

In March 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Olivier De Schutter, presented a report highlighting how agroecology holds promise for alleviating hunger, reducing poverty, preserving the environment, and fighting climate change.

Polyface Farms uses an agricultural system that tries to imitate the diversity of a natural ecosystem by using multiple crop and animal species in the same space (Photo Credit: Glory Bea)

“The core principles of agroecology include recycling nutrients and energy on the farm, rather than introducing external inputs; integrating crops and livestock; diversifying species and genetic resources in agroecosystems over time and space; and focusing on interactions and productivity across the agricultural system, rather than focusing on individual species,” says the report.

Today, Nourishing the Planet presents five ways in which different agroecological methods are being practiced to varying degrees around the world:

1.      Duck attack on the rice paddies of Asia. Asian farmers cultivating organic rice have adapted an ingenious way to cut out pesticide and herbicide use—ducks. Two or three weeks after rice seedlings have been planted, ducks patrol paddy waters and happily feed on unwanted pests, such as the golden snail and a host of insect species that feed on the rice plants. The ducks’ feces enhance the soil, which they stir up with their beaks and feet, a process that also helps enrich the paddies with the oxygen that plants need to thrive (soil oxygenation). The feathered army also feeds on weeds, which eliminates the need for pesticides and for the manual labor associated with manual weeding. The ducks also provide an additional means of income, for farmers can sell them at harvest time. According to an article by the Japan Information Network, the method, which originated in Japan, has now spread to South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and even as far as Iran.

2.      It is all about the bushes and the bees in Canada. Bees are vital to agriculture and natural biodiversity—according to the Royal Society, 76 percent of the world’s most widely used food crops require pollination to be productive. A new Canadian initiative is looking to put bees to work to help conserve a fragile area.

Trees are needed to protect watersheds—delicate areas of land that form the drainage systems for streams and rivers in which many plant and animal species thrive. Trees and shrubs help filter pollutants from storm water runoff and anchor the soil with their roots, which reduces erosion. With a grant from the British Columbia Agroforestry Industry Development Initiative, the Murray family aims to use their small woodland plot located in the West Kootenay region near Slocan Lake to blend apiculture (bee keeping) with integrated agroforestry (agriculture that incorporates the cultivation and conservation of trees). In this system, the bees will pollinate the shrubs and the shrubs and the plethora of small private woodlands and streams found in the area will, in turn, provide the surface water and natural windbreak protection required by the bees.

3.      Ancient and modern aquaponics around the world. According to the Centre for Sustainable Aquaponics, part of the solution to the global search for greener fish and crop production that does not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides can be found in aquaponics—a combination of aquaculture (the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants for food) and soilless plant agriculture known as hydroponics. The combined technique, where crops are grown in a body of water that contains fish, has been used by ancient Aztecs and the ancestors of Far East countries like China. It is increasingly being used all over the world today. The process renders needless the use of chemicals since, in a seamless aquatic dance, the fish-waste fertilizes the plants, which, in turn, cleanse the water of toxins that would be dangerous for the fish.

4.      “Do nothing but microorganisms” farming in Thailand. According to a report by Horizon Solutions, in Thailand, over 20,000 farmers have now adopted an integrated farming system known as “do nothing farming”—they cultivate crops with minimal interference in nature: “namely no ploughing, no weeding, no chemical pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, and no pruning.” They do, however, use effective microorganisms (EMs) that were developed by Dr. Teruo Higa from the agricultural department at the University of Ryukyu, Japan. EMs are a combination of microorganisms that readily exist in nature and have not been interfered with in any way, merely added to the fields. By enriching the soil and stimulating plant growth, EMs increase crop yields whilst allowing the farmer to maintain the balance of the ecosystem—a complex set of relationships among plants, animals, and non-living materials of an area.

5.      Grass farming in the United States. Joel Salatin calls himself a grass farmer. His Polyface Farms, in Swoope, Virginia, were made famous by appearances in Michael Pollan’s book An Omnivore’s Dilemma and the documentaries Food Inc. and Fresh. The hilly homestead is set on 100 acres of grass, surrounded by 400 acres of woodland. It is a polyculture—an agricultural system that tries to imitate the diversity of a natural ecosystem by using multiple crop and animal species in the same space. It includes chickens, cows, turkeys, rabbits, and pigs.

Salatin carefully orchestrates all the elements in an intricate symbiosis—every being follows its natural instincts to contribute an ecosystem service (benefit) that maintains the overall health of the pasture. For example, his large herd of cows feeds on a different quarter acre of grass every day and contributes manure. Three days later, three hundred laying hens—Polyface Farms’ “sanitation crew”—are let loose to gorge on the fat fly larvae that have grown in the cowpats. This gives the chickens an important source of rich protein, while helping to spread manure and further fertilize the paddock with their own very rich nitrogen-laden excrement.

The farm’s closed loop, natural system is highly successful, producing 40,000 pounds of beef, 30,000 pounds of pork, 10,000 broilers, 1,200 turkeys, 1,000 rabbits, and 35,000 dozen eggs on just 100 acres. And, as Pollan writes, “at the end of the year, there is more biodiversity not less, more fertility not less, and more soil, not less.”

Do you know of other agroecological farming methods being practiced around the world? Share them in the comments below.

Ioulia Fenton is a Food and Agriculture Research Intern at Nourishing the Planet.

Check out other Nourishing the Planet posts that highlight alternative agricultural methods: Aquaponics: An Overview, What Works: Aquaculture, Five Ways to Get Rid of Pests Without Using Chemicals, Five Sustainable Innovations in Aquaculture, Five Agricultural Innovations to Improve Biodiversity, The Birds, the Bees….and Plants, and Five Innovations that are Boosting Soil Fertility.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.


Five Cities and the Organizations That are Making Them Green

Pin It

By Jenny Beth Dyess

Currently over half of the world’s 7 billion live in urban areas and according to the United Nations (UN), that number is expected to reach 65 percent by 2050. Dramatic population growth strains food resources and raises the challenge of feeding urban dwellers, particularly the poor. According to the UN, poverty is now growing faster in urban areas than in rural areas—there are currently 1 billion people living in urban slums.

Urban agriculture is cropping up in major cities worldwide. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five cities and the organizations that are helping these cities become food-sufficient.

1. Dar es Salaam: Over 45 percent of Tanzania’s 2.3 million unemployed people live in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Studies by the Tanzanian Department of Rural Development and Regional Planning have found that there is significant reduction in poverty among residents who practice urban gardening in Dar es Salaam. In 2011, 68 percent of residents are growing food and raising livestock in the city. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 90 percent of vegetables and 60 percent of the milk supply are produced locally.

Dar es Salaam in action: The Mikocheni Post Primary Vocational School is training students how to make a sustainable living and grow food in the city. The vocational school has become a learning center for waste separation, composting, and urban farming. The composting chambers are built by the masonry students, the cooking and carpentry students contribute organic waste to the compost, and all students take turns attending the gardens. The school also offers free training seminars on composting to the local community.



Five Indigenous Livestock Breeds You Have Never Heard of

Pin It

By Sheldon Yoder

Approximately 21 percent of indigenous animal breeds around the world are in danger of extinction, according to the FAO. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Indigenous breeds of livestock have fed and clothed humans for thousands of years. Many of them have unique adaptations for survival in harsh environments and for tolerating specific diseases.

Regrettably, while it took millennia to create the rich genetic wealth of indigenous livestock breeds, that diversity is in danger of being lost forever as farmers are encouraged to switch to commercial livestock or cross-breed indigenous livestock with exotic breeds.

The following are five breeds of livestock in Africa whose genetic diversity deserves to be protected.

1. Ankole Cattle: The Ankole is a breed of cattle native to Eastern Africa that is not only beautiful but valuable because of its ability to survive in extremely harsh, dry conditions—a trait that is increasingly useful as sub-Saharan Africa becomes drier and hotter. These animals have striking, long, large-diameter horns, which help circulate blood and keep them cool in hot climes. The animals are renowned for their hardiness, allowing them to forage on poor quality vegetation and live off limited amounts of water. (more…)


Five Fish that are Sustainable and (Almost) Guilt-free

Pin It

By Isaac Hopkins

According to a 2010 Food and Agriculture Organization report, 33 percent of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion, and another 52 percent are fully exploited. As more fish stocks fail under the pressure, many fisherpeople, fishery managers, and policymakers are focusing on making fishing more sustainable, using methods that have proven effective at restoring both quantity and quality in depleted fisheries.

Fish market outside Banjul in The Gambia. Fish is a crucial food for billions of people, but many fish stocks are threatened due to overfishing. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Just as importantly, consumers should be conscious of the dietary and ecological impacts of the seafood that they eat. Resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a National Geographic Seafood Guide, designed by Barton Seaver, make it easier than ever for seafood lovers to choose fish that are healthy for people and for the planet.

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five fisheries that have benefited from sustainable management and are improving the outlook for fisherfolk and ecosystems.

1. Mackerel: Mackerel is a broad term that can refer to more than thirty species of moderate-sized fish that are abundant in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. Their flesh is generally oily and high in fat, and they are prized not just by fishermen, but also by many larger fish, as well as dolphins and whales.

Mackerel in Action: Canada’s Atlantic Mackerel fisheries and the King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel fisheries are rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a “best choice,” because they are well-managed and sustainable. Mackerel reproduce quickly, which helps them withstand fishing pressures, and most fisheries, especially in the Atlantic, are regulated by enforcement agencies of each country and rely on sustainable fishing methods. The purse seines and midwater trawls used in these fisheries cause minimal bycatch (fish of the wrong species that are accidentally caught and simply thrown out, often dead or dying) or damage to the environment by dragging trawls along the ocean bottom. Because of Mackerel’s abundance, it is available year-round.



Five Organizations Sharing Local Knowledge for Success Across the World

Pin It

By Jenna Banning

As Nourishing the Planet has witnessed first-hand, small-scale farmers and local communities have developed innovative ways to meet the challenges facing people across the world. But until recently, they have often lacked the ability to share their solutions, or their knowledge has been overlooked by governments and international groups.

Nourishing the Planet Director Danielle Nierenberg meets with farmers at the Ecova-Mali center. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five organizations that recognize the valuable contributions farmers can share with their neighbors, with policy makers, and with people across the world.

1. AfricaRice Center:

Created in 1971 by eleven African countries, the Africa Rice Center now works with 24 countries across the continent, connecting researchers, rice farmers, and rice processors.

AfricaRice has been developing learning tools that focus on reaching as many farmers as possible, aiming to both “decentralize and democratize learning within the rice sector.” One powerful method has been farmer-to-farmer videos, which feature local experts sharing their knowledge about seed drying and preservation, rice quality, and soil management with viewers. These videos have been translated into more than 30 African languages, with great impact.

Reaching even beyond the continent, the African Rice Center has also created a set of four videos on seed management with rural women in Bangladesh, helping to further facilitate valuable knowledge exchange between rice farmers.



Five Ways to Get Rid of Pests Without Using Chemicals

Pin It

By Graham Salinger

Pests can be, well, a pest. They infest crops and reduce yields, reducing overall agricultural production and food security. To deal with pests, such as mealybugs or spider mites, most farmers use chemical pesticides which can impact health, pollute water supplies through runoff, and, if pesticides are misused or overused, can actually kill plants. Finding new methods to get rid of pests without requiring chemical inputs has increasingly become a priority for many farmers.

Implementing these methods can save crops from destructive pests without the need for harmful pesticides. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five crop management methods that control pests without using chemical pesticides.

1. Crop rotation:  Crop rotation involves alternating the species of crop that a farmer grows on his or her land each year. Rotating crops helps prevent pests from getting used to the type of plant that is being cultivated. Planting different species of crops each growing season also promotes soil fertility.  Planting legumes, a plant that helps fertilize crops through nitrogen fixing bacteria that it has on its roots, and then planting crops that require high levels of nitrogen helps make sure that soil is healthy each growing season. And healthy soil helps protect against pests because an imbalance in plant nutrition increases a harvest’s vulnerability to pests, according to Mans Lanting of ETC Foundation, a non- profit that focuses on linking agricultural sustainability to social development.