New Research Shows Bats are Spooktacular!

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This is the time of year where bats often get a bad rap and are mistaken for vicious blood sucking creatures. An old Halloween lore, unless of course you are the larvae of a corn earworm moth.

Corn earworm moths and their larvae can devastate corn, tomatoes, and cotton crops. But a recent study was just released showing the enormous benefits bats provide in pest control, especially for corn. This study looked at the bat predation of the corn earworm larvae in Illinois. 

 

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The Future of Our Farms Depends on Biodiversity

recent study was published showing the devastating loss of crop diversity over the last three decades. This alarming loss of crop diversity is not just about fewer varieties of food crops, it has much bigger implications. For example, fields of monocultures diminish soil fertility, eliminate wildlife habitat, and encourage pesticide applications.

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Letter from Dana Jackson

dana9.21.15.jpgFifteen years ago I helped found the Wild Farm Alliance with other sustainable agriculture and wildlands advocates alarmed that agriculture was recklessly disrupting natural ecosystems and destroying native species of plants and animals. 

We knew that the sacrifice of complex, sustainable natural systems for sterile fields of high producing crops was not the best way to produce food for humans. We devised a positive mission for the new Wild Farm Alliance: to promote a healthy, viable agriculture that helps to protect and restore wild nature.

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Farming with the Wild Works

No farmer wants to lose land to flooding, or have excessive codling moth in their walnut orchard, but those were the issues facing Paul Hain of Hain Ranch Organics.

A past flooding event took several acres of the walnut orchard, and the ever present codling moth threatened yields. Paul wanted to try a natural solution.

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News from the Wild Side - August 2015

illustration8.24.15.jpgWhile summer’s bounty and our farmers are churning out an abundance of food for us humans and non-humans (think insect pollinators and beneficial birds), we are keeping our eye on research and policies that benefit conservation-minded farmers and the wider landscape.

 

 

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New Study Points to Benefits of Conservation for Food Safety

fs-PNAS_study_farm_image.jpgOn August 2015, the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, released the findings from a study that revealed that the elimination of natural vegetation surrounding farm fields failed to reduce the presence of foodborne illness-causing pathogens in fresh produce grown in those fields. The study, titled "Comanaging fresh produce for nature conservation and food safety," found not only that the absence of natural vegetation did not contribute to pathogen reduction, but also that cleared land resulted in increased pathogen prevalence over time.

 

 

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Healthy Soils Initiative in California

Recently WFA worked with partners in California to support the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Healthy Soils Initiative (HSI) which is housed in the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act, SB 367. This initiative was designed to funnel more than $20 million into a new program to support sustainable agriculture efforts that not only address climate change mitigation, but also promote biodiversity measures on the farm. This initiative is a step in the right direction and will serve as a model for other states working to address climate change mitigation through on-farm measures. We sent the director of CFDA a letter (Click here to read the full letter) stating our support along with recommendations on improving the initiative to include more conservation measures.

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Research in California's Central Coast Region

Piled_Trees_Food_Safety_.jpgIn 2006, an outbreak of E. coli O157 from spinach was traced back to a farm on California's Central coast, the home of our nation's fresh-cut salad industry. While it was never determined how the spinach became contaminated, non-native feral pigs were considered possible culprits. This resulted in ALL wildlife being viewed as a source of food-borne pathogen contamination, even though research so far indicates that NATIVE wildlife generally pose a low risk of carrying human pathogens (although certain localized populations have increased risk).

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