Monday, 25 December 2017

15 new research fellowships (Opportunity)

15 Early Career Research Fellowships
RECOMS – Building Resourceful and Resilient Communities through Adaptive and Transformative Environmental Practice – H2020 MSCA-ITN
Please find below links to the pre-announcement for the 15 Early Stage Researcher Fellows. I would be grateful if you could assist with publicising this announcement amongst your respective networks. The positions will be open for applications from mid-January 2018.

Research theme cluster 1: Unlocking and Empowering

Research theme cluster 2: Adapting and Transforming

Research theme cluster 3: Connecting and Collaborating


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Effectiveness of a permaculture education project in Butula, Kenya  

In the 1980s, agricultural development organizations began promoting permaculture through training programmes in the developing world. Few assessments have measured the effectiveness of such projects. Here we surveyed and interviewed small-scale farmers to assess the perceived impacts of a Canadian permaculture project in Butula, Western Kenya. Two types of projects are evaluated and compared: community projects (CPs) at six primary schools, and an intensive two-week permaculture design certification (PDC) programme. Our results suggest that both PDC and CP participants felt that they had benefited from the projects. However, PDC participants developed a more comprehensive understanding of permaculture, felt empowered and frequently related permaculture to their own traditional cultural values whereas CP participants often misunderstood permaculture, felt frustrated by the limited immediate economic benefits and frequently contrasted permaculture against traditional cultural values. This study emphasizes the importance of direct, reciprocal communication between NGOs and project participants for fostering feelings of autonomy and competence.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Permaculture fungi boost phosphorous uptake (journal)

Application of Mycorrhiza and Soil from a Permaculture System Improved Phosphorus Acquisition in Naranjilla

Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense) is a perennial shrub plant mainly cultivated in Ecuador, Colombia, and Central America where it represents an important cash crop. Current cultivation practices not only cause deforestation and large-scale soil degradation but also make plants highly susceptible to pests and diseases. The use of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can offer a possibility to overcome these problems. In this study, the impact of AMF inoculation on growth and nutrition parameters of naranjilla has been assessed. For inoculation three European reference AMF strains and soils originating from three differently managed naranjilla plantations in Ecuador (conventional, organic, and permaculture) have been used. The growth response experiment has shown that two of the three reference AMF strains, a mixture of the three and soil from a permaculture site led to significantly better acquisition of phosphorus (up to 104%) compared to uninoculated controls. These results suggest that the use of AMF strains and local soils as inoculants represent a valid approach to improve nutrient uptake efficiency of naranjilla and consequently to reduce inputs of mineral fertilizers.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Sustainable World Radio: Soil Food Web (podcast)

Sustainable World Radio: The Universe Beneath Our Feet: The Soil Food Web

Episode 128: Dr. Elaine Ingham of Soil Foodweb Inc. guides us on this podcast journey into the world of soil. The meeting place of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere, soil contains vast numbers of species. Like most places where edges of different worlds meet, the soil is a dynamic interface. Fertile soil is alive with the biodiversity of a thriving forest; complex ecosystems connecting, growing, living, co-existing, and dying. In this episode we learn about the cast of creatures that comprise the Soil Food Web, including Bacteria, Fungi, Nematodes, Protozoa, and Arthropods; and the many ecosystem services that they provide

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Glyphosate in European topsoils (journal)

Distribution of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in agricultural topsoils of the European Union

The occurrence of glyphosate residues in European water bodies is rather well documented whereas only few, fragmented and outdated information is available for European soils. We provide the first large-scale assessment of distribution (occurrence and concentrations) of glyphosate and its main metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in EU agricultural topsoils, and estimate their potential spreading by wind and water erosion. Glyphosate and/or AMPA were present in 45% of the topsoils collected, originating from eleven countries and six crop systems, with a maximum concentration of 2 mg kg− 1. Several glyphosate and AMPA hotspots were identified across the EU. Soil loss rates (obtained from recently derived European maps) were used to estimate the potential export of glyphosate and AMPA by wind and water erosion. The estimated exports, result of a conceptually simple model, clearly indicate that particulate transport can contribute to human and environmental exposure to herbicide residues. Residue threshold values in soils are urgently needed to define potential risks for soil health and off site effects related to export by wind and water erosion.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

City region food systems (book)

City Region Food Systems and Food Waste Management

This book describes the results of 13 case studies on city region food systems and food waste management. It provides lessons learned on the institutionalisation of city region food policies and programmes; provisioning of national and legal frameworks embedding city region food systems in broader legislation, on strengthening of coordination and collaboration across horizontal and vertical government levels, and on design of specific programmes and policies for sustainable city region food systems.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Industrial food makes us sick (pdf report)

Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus (pdf downloads - full report, exec summary

'An overwhelming case for action' - expert panel identifies unacceptable toll of food and farming systems on human health. Industrial food and farming systems are making people sick in a variety of ways, and are generating staggering human and economic costs - according to a major new report from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). Decisive action can be taken on the basis of what we know, the Panel found, but is held back by the unequal power of food system actors to set the terms of debate and to influence policy.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Last minute gifts: Green Books (books)

Green Books 
In 1986, Satish Kumar, Diana Schumacher and other members of the Council of the Schumacher Society felt the time was right to launch a book publishing company that would help to spread Green ideas and practices. A limited company was set up, Green Books. Today Green Books want their books to reach many kinds of people – not only those who are already convinced that we need to change our ways of thinking and living, but also those who are looking for new ideas, approaches and information about how to live a more ecological lifestyle. Recent titles include Growing Self-Sufficiency, Martin Crawford's How to Grow Your Own Nuts, Community Energy: A Guide, Living on One Acre or Less, and Edible Mushrooms; A Forager's Guide.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Last minute gifts: Permanent Pubs (books)

Permanent Publications

Established in 1990, Permanent Publications publish inspiring, practical information that encourages people to live more healthy, self-reliant and ecologically sound ways of life. They produce the world’s most innovative range of permaculture books, including titles which instruct on: sustainability, practical solutions for the home, garden & community, education, politics, economy, woodlands, food and cooking, and people. Recent highlights include Maddy Harland's new book Fertile Edges, Tom Henfrey and Gil Penha-Lopes' Resilience, Community Action and Societal Transformation (that's Gil leaping across the cover) and Tomas Remiarz's Forest Gardening in Practice. They've also just published Patrick Whitefields' Minimalist Gardener. If there isn't something amongst that little lot to delight your friends, maybe you need some new ones in the New Year.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Last minute gifts: Chelsea Green (books)

Chelsea Green Publishing

Founded in 1984, Chelsea Green Publishing is recognized as a leading publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, publishing authors who bring in-depth, practical knowledge to life, and give readers hands-on information related to organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more. New releases include Holistic Goat Care (a must buy, surely?) Joel Salatin's Your Successful Farm Business and Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics, already a classic.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Permaculture and sales organisations (#journal)

Responding to evidence in Dixon and Adamson's (2011) “Challenger Sale” that the sales management system employed by most of today's sales organizations failed to detect and respond to significant changes in the sales environment years ago, this research examines the concept of sales system sustainability. Borrowing from the field of eco-science where the concept of sustainability has been largely developed, this theoretical research introduces Holmgren's (2002) permaculture principles to the sales literature and offers a conceptual application of these principles in the context of industrial selling. It posits that application of these principles will aid the sales organization's acquisition, dissemination and application of knowledge, effectively positioning the organization for greater endurance and sustainability going forward. In addition to offering managerial implications throughout, this paper concludes by providing a road map for future research inquiry.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Regenerative farming in India (video)

13th International Permaculture Convergence India 2017

Streamed live on Nov 25, 2017
Live | 13th International Permaculture Convergence India 2017, IPC India 2017

Dr Claude Alvares discusses the crisis of climate change in India, and how permaculture and small scale organic farming can help. Sorry for the poor sound quality and the shaky start!


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

IPC India in 8 minutes (video)

The 13th IPC part 1: Conference

The 13th IPC part 2: Convergence

In this era of recurring economic, ecological and societal crises it is more important than ever to conserve and rejuvenate our natural resources! Based on the three ethics of Earth Care, People Care & Fair Share, permaculture initiatives around the globe are striving to create regenerative systems within a wide range of disciplines like farming, building, economics and education that help achieve sustainable livelihoods and secure basic human needs while protecting the environment. As part of this all-embracing shift towards more stable, harmonious, and resilient living systems, the main theme of the IPC India 2017 is ‘Towards Healthy Societies’.

Monday, 11 December 2017

4 myths on women in agriculture (journal)

Women in agriculture: Four myths

Despite the emerging global movement for reliable indicators, well-intentioned but statistically unfounded stylized facts on women, agriculture, and the environment continue to circulate. This paper inspects four pervasive gender myths: 1) Women account for 70% of the world's poor; 2) Women produce 60–80% of the world's food; 3) Women own 1% of the world's land; and 4) Women are better stewards of the environment. These claims are myths. Like all myths, they embody an important truth, that women control fewer resources than those required to fulfill their responsibilities to ensure food and nutrition security. However, none of these myths are based on sound empirical evidence. To develop effective policies to promote food security, it is necessary to have appropriate data on women's and men's roles in food production and natural resource management and the gendered constraints that they face. By evaluating the data and assumptions behind these myths, we contribute to both the academic and policy conversations on gender and rural development, making the case for collecting and using better data to capture the variation—over space and time—in the roles and status of women.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Urban foraging (journal)

Urban foraging: a ubiquitous human practice but overlooked by urban planners, policy and research

Although hardly noticed or formally recognised, urban foraging probably occurs in all urban settings around the world. The authors draw from research in India, South Africa, Sweden, and the US to demonstrate the ubiquity and varied nature of urban foraging. They distil seven themes that characterise urban foraging. The species used and the local practices vary between contexts, and are in constant flux as urban ecological and social settings change. This requires that urban foragers are knowledgeable about diverse species, harvest locations, and rights of access, and that their practices are adaptable to changing contexts. Most cities have some forms of regulations that prohibit or discourage urban foraging, but a few important exceptions that can provide prototypes and lessons for other cities.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Land management can tackle climate change (report)

New Study Finds Nature Is Vital to Beating Climate Change

Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought, according to the most comprehensive assessment to date of how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands and wetlands. The findings are expected to bolster efforts to ensure that large scale protection, restoration, and improved land management practices are achieved while meeting the demand for food and fiber from global lands. Accounting for cost constraints, the researchers calculated that natural climate solutions could reduce emissions by 11.3 billion tonnes per year by 2030 – equivalent to halting the burning of oil , and offering 37% of the emissions reductions needed to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. Without cost constraints, natural climate solutions could deliver emissions reductions of 23.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, close to a third (30%) more than previous estimates.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Edible green infrastructure (#journal)

Edible green infrastructure: An approach and review of provisioning ecosystem services and disservices in urban environments

Recently published green infrastructure, nature-based solutions, and ecosystem disservices literature have focused primarily on the supply of urban regulating and cultural ecosystem services. Other literature on urban agriculture has mostly studied the role of localized, intensive agricultural practices. The aim of this review is to raise awareness and stress the knowledge gap on the importance of urban provisioning ecosystem services, particularly when implementing an edible green infrastructure (EGI) approach. Authors analyzed more than 80 peer-reviewed publications that focused on food production in urban areas. An EGI approach can contribute socially, economically, and environmentally to urban sustainability and food security. However, such benefits must be weighed against trade-offs, like potential health risks from contaminants. We conclude with recommendations and guidelines for incorporating EGI into urban planning and design, and discuss novel areas for future research.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Sequestering soil carbon (pdf report)

The final report of the May 3-5, 2017 Chantilly, France conference,  Sequestering Carbon in Soil:  Addressing the Climate ThreatThe report attempts to summarize the key discussions and recommendations that emerged from our many breakout and mini-plenary sessions. The report also addresses the technical potential of soil carbon sequestration, integrating findings from our pre-conference webinar and from the Chantilly proceedings. We hope it  contributes to the rapidly growing field of soil carbon sequestration.  

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

'No Dig Organic Home and Garden' wins prize (book)

Permaculture Publisher’s Gardening Book Wins Award

No Dig Organic Home and Garden by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty has already sold over ten thousand copies in the UK and North America, promoting the authors' ‘no dig’ gardening expertise to gardeners. Now,  against all the odds, Permanent Publications have just  won the main prize at the 2017 Garden Media Guild Awards (GMG).  No Dig Organic Home and Garden book beat major industry supported celebrity titles to the prestigious Peter Seabrook Practical Book of the Year at the annual event held at The Savoy Hotel, London on Thursday 23rd November 2017. The publisher believes it is evidence that their passion for supporting positive, can-do sustainable living messages are not only needed but are now wanted by a public who are ever more educated about our effects on planet Earth. These methods also help in this age of austerity when many are having to tighten their belts economically.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Organic can feed the world...just (report)

Organic agriculture can help feed world, but only if we eat less meat and stop wasting food

The world's population is expected to hit 9.8 billion by 2050, which means an extra 2 billion or so mouths to feed. This will require increasing agricultural output by an additional 50 percent. However, agriculture could go organic worldwide if we slashed food waste and stopped using so much cropland to feed livestock, a new study finds. The analysis shows that it will take several strategies operating at once to feed the growing human population in a more sustainable way - and some of those strategies may require people to shift their dietary patterns, too. That might be a hrd sell with today's meat filled diets. A more feasible solution might be one where organic crops make up about 50 percent of crops, food waste is cut by half, and the competing feed sources are cut by half (allowing for more acreage to grow human food).

Monday, 4 December 2017

A researcher with no library? Read this (online)

You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do?

The world of publishing is evolving frantically, while it remains frustratingly fragmented and prohibitively expensive for many. If you’re a student who just left your academic library behind only to discover you are now locked out of the stacks; a startup researching water usage in Africa and keep hitting paywalls; a local nonprofit that studies social change activism, but all the latest papers cost $30 per read… This article is for you.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Protect small farms to safeguard nutrition (report)

Small farms need protection to safeguard nutrients and diversity

New research shows that a diverse landscape made up of a patchwork of small to medium-sized farms produces the vast majority of the world’s nutrients. As farm size increases this diversity decreases, authors of the study emphasise, in light of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing global food needs is not just about quantity – it’s also about the quality of global food supplies. The study involved more than 400 scientists from 19 different institutions. The researchers found that it is the landscapes with more diversity that produce more nutrients and that the diversity of agricultural and nutrient production diminishes as farm size increases.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Sustainable woodfuel (report)

Sustainable woodfuel for food security A smart choice: green, renewable and affordable

With food insecurity, climate change and deforestation remaining key global issues, this paper highlights the role of sustainable woodfuel in improving food security.

Food insecurity and a high dependence on woodfuel as a primary cooking fuel are characteristics common to vulnerable groups of people in developing regions of the world. With adequate policy and legal frameworks in place, woodfuel production and harvesting can be sustainable and a main source of green energy.

Moreover, the widespread availability of woodfuel, and the enormous market for it, presents opportunities for employment and for sustainable value chains, providing further rationale for promoting this source of energy.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Your Permaculture Research Digest Advent Calendar, 2017

In November there were no posts on the Digest at all! To make up for that, I have decided to follow the old British tradition of the 'Advent Calendar' this month and schedule a post every day between now and 24th December...actually I might go all the way to 31st if time allows. I hope you enjoy them and find them useful. Can I take this chance to thank all those who have been supplying me with content for the Digest, I'll include as many of your suggestions as I can over the next month.