Author: Michael Rosmann

Do Kids Behave Better When They Know Santa Is Coming?

Most parents have uttered something like “You should behave because Santa is watching” to cajole their children to comply with parental requests that the kids often disregard, except during Christmas season.  When my parents attempted this ploy, my brothers and I already knew what was up.  We usually disregarded the threat unless something we really wanted for Christmas that we had not already discovered was hanging in the balance. So my brothers and I played along and acted innocent.  We usually had already found the intended presents from Santa in the garage attic or hidden in our parents’ empty...

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How Agriculture Can Improve Oxygen, Reduce Carbon And CO2 Levels

Agricultural producers concentrate on achieving maximum net profits from their efforts in order to advance their operations.  Most also are concerned in varying degrees about what happens to their land and other assets used in farming (e.g., water, air, equipment and facilities) in order to leave them in better shape than when they began farming. Last week’s Farm and Ranch Life article took a look at how agriculture currently affects the earth’s carbon cycle.  Annual crops produce a small but measurable increase in oxygen, along with a reduction of carbon during the summer, and a small accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during winter. Today we consider how U.S. farmers and agricultural producers everywhere can improve the earth’s atmosphere and reduce global warming even more than the small net advantages afforded by current agricultural methods.  We take a look at options besides forms of “carbon farming,” which propose tax credits to those who undertake methods of sequestering carbon. Carbon farming has been debated and implemented in a few countries, but mostly only discussed in the U.S. thus far.  There are many beneficial agricultural practices that reduce carbon emissions and improve air, water, soil, and human life, which is today’s subject. Perennial crops.  Perennial plants like bamboo, trees and prairie grasses are generally more efficient than annuals at producing oxygen and storing carbon over time. That’s why methods of...

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Are Oxygen Production and Carbon Sequestration Agricultural Matters?

During the growing season, plants like corn, soybeans and other annual crops take in carbon dioxide and discharge oxygen back into the air while storing carbon in their plant material such as seeds, stalks, leaves and roots.  An acre of corn yielding 180 bushels removes 8 tons of CO2 from the air during an average growing season and produces enough oxygen to supply 131 people with their year’s needs of this essential for life, according to a Monsanto website which cited USDA information: www.americasfarmers.com/2014/01/29/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-corn/ This is article one of a two-part series. Today we take a look at how oxygen is produced, carbon is removed (sequestered) from the atmosphere, and how carbon dioxide is added back in what is called the carbon cycle, with an eye to how agriculture contributes to, or detracts from, the warming of the earth’s atmosphere. While greatly simplified for this article, the production of oxygen and carbon only partially regulate global temperatures, but we concentrate on these factors because they are influenced by agriculture and affect agricultural producers in terms of weather and potentially through government regulations.  Metabolizing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis into oxygen and carbon has been going on since algae and other microbes, and eventually plants, emerged eons ago on our planet. While well over half of earth’s oxygen is produced by oceanic phytoplankton, plants – especially trees and other perennials –...

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Debate Increasing About Genetically Modified Crop Yields

Are genetically modified crops needed to feed the world? There are proponents on both sides of this debate: those who insist GM crops already are boosting the world food supply and are especially needed as the world’s population increases, and those who claim non-GM crops reduce environmental hazards and can out-yield GM crops while also saving input costs for pesticides and seed. On October 29 this year “The New York Times” published an article that compared canola, corn, sugar beet and soybean crop yields in France and Germany, where GM seeds have not been used for about 20 years,...

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Avoiding Behavioral Healthcare Is Common Among Farm People Everywhere

“A 2015 study by the Irish Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy found the farming community the group least likely to talk to a friend about stress or depression with just 3% saying they had done so compared to the national average of 49%,” wrote British farmer counselor Aarun Naik in September this year. “Just 7% of respondents from the farming community said they would speak to a doctor and only 5% said they would speak to a counsellor or psychotherapist about personal problems compared to a national average of 32% and 13% respectively.” In 2015 Naik completed a year-long Nuffield Farming Scholarship Travel Award, sponsored by the John Oldacre Foundation, which enabled him to visit France, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and the countries in the United Kingdom.  The major purpose of his travels was to explore how other countries besides his native England addressed high levels of stress, suicide and poor mental health of people engaged in farming. As Naik wrote, “Running through all these approaches was the importance of reducing stigma in order to normalise (Sic) the issue so that choosing to seek help becomes easier.”  He wrote further that the “experience confirmed…that issues of stress and mental health are a global problem in farming.  Enabling farmers to openly and unashamedly share their own personal experiences of mental health difficulty can be a hugely...

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