Blog Archives

Pest management challenges and best practices for grocery stores

Pests need three things to survive: food, water and shelter. A well-stocked supermarket contains an overabundance of all three. Due to the large size of stores, intense activity from shoppers, regular food delivery, and after-hours stocking and inventory, pests have ample opportunities to find their way into stores, contaminating food and putting the supermarket’s reputation at risk.

The most common pests found in supermarkets are German cockroaches, mice, flies, a variety of stored product pests and birds. Each of these brings a number of health and property risks. Pest infestations in supermarkets most often occur in the deli sections, bakeries, meat departments, under shelves, loose foods bins, produce sections, employee break areas, loading docks and dumpster and trash areas.

In addition to obtaining the services of an experienced pest management company whose technicians will conduct monthly inspections, employee education and vigilance are the second best lines of defense against pest infestations. According to Paul Curtis, a board certified entomologist and director of commercial service for Terminix, “The number one mistake commercial facility operators, including supermarket managers, make is not providing their employees with education about their role in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and food safety – including inspection of incoming stock.”

A pest management company partner will assist supermarkets with implementing the best program to eliminate the dangers of pest infestations, including the development of an IPM program which combines common sense and sound solutions for treating and controlling pests; using inspection, identification and treatment methods. The technician will help identify all the possible problem areas; take stock of the sanitation conditions and practices; and point out areas of moisture that need to be eliminated. Using these findings, supermarkets will be able to keep an eye on problem areas in between professional inspections.

Although supermarkets are not directly affected by the strict regulations imposed by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) — their suppliers are. FSMA’s shift in focus from reactive response to proactive actions places a greater burden on food processors and manufacturers, which means supermarket managers must ensure the vendors they use are compliant with FSMA and the goods they provide are free of pests.

An aggressive pest management program will help supermarkets to avoid federal, state and local public health violations, fines, and operation interruption. And most importantly, it can also protect them from a loss of customers and a detrimental hit to their reputations.

The National Pest Management Association, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information about pests and prevention tips, please visit www.PestWorld.org.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

Brookshire Grocery shuffles management

Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, said Thursday it has promoted two executives and made other changes in its leadership team.

Brian JohnsonBrian Johnson has been promoted to senior vice president, division manager, for the chain’s eastern division, which encompasses 53 stores in northeast Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. He was formerly vice president, district manager, for 13 Tyler-area stores.

Ray HarrisonRay Harrison has been promoted to vice president, center store, succeeding Roger Story. Harrision has been a category manager for center store since 2007.

Succeeding Johnson in overseeing the Tyler stores is Wesley Hooper, vice president, district manager. Hooper previously oversaw the 14 Brookshire stores in northeast Texas.

Oversight for those stores has been given to Keith Ridgeway, formerly vice president and district manager for the company’s eastern division stores in Longview and surrounding areas.

Story has been named vice president, district manager, for the 13 Brookshire stores in Longview, Texas, and the surrounding area, in the chain’s eastern division.

In other changes:


CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER

Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


• Trent Brookshire, senior vice president, division manager, has been assigned oversight for the 65 Brookshire stores in the company’s western division, which encompasses the area from Tyler to west Texas.

• Pete Leung has been named senior vice president, category management, succeeding Dave Krause, who left the company. Leung was previously senior vice president and manager of the western division.

The company operates 152 stores, including 34 not affected by the changes: 33 Super 1 Food Stores and one Fresh by Brookshire’s, in Tyler.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

Brookshire Grocery shuffles management

Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, said Thursday it has promoted two executives and made other changes in its leadership team.

Brian JohnsonBrian Johnson has been promoted to senior vice president, division manager, for the chain’s eastern division, which encompasses 53 stores in northeast Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. He was formerly vice president, district manager, for 13 Tyler-area stores.

Ray HarrisonRay Harrison has been promoted to vice president, center store, succeeding Roger Story. Harrision has been a category manager for center store since 2007.

Succeeding Johnson in overseeing the Tyler stores is Wesley Hooper, vice president, district manager. Hooper previously oversaw the 14 Brookshire stores in northeast Texas.

Oversight for those stores has been given to Keith Ridgeway, formerly vice president and district manager for the company’s eastern division stores in Longview and surrounding areas.

Story has been named vice president, district manager, for the 13 Brookshire stores in Longview, Texas, and the surrounding area, in the chain’s eastern division.

In other changes:


CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER

Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


• Trent Brookshire, senior vice president, division manager, has been assigned oversight for the 65 Brookshire stores in the company’s western division, which encompasses the area from Tyler to west Texas.

• Pete Leung has been named senior vice president, category management, succeeding Dave Krause, who left the company. Leung was previously senior vice president and manager of the western division.

The company operates 152 stores, including 34 not affected by the changes: 33 Super 1 Food Stores and one Fresh by Brookshire’s, in Tyler.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

Microalgae capable of assimilating ammonia resulting from the management of agrifood waste

The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Neiker-Tecnalia, the public body that reports to the Sub-Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community, has confirmed the capacity of Chlamydomonas acidophila microalgae to absorb ammoniacal nitrogen present in the effluent generated in the digestion of organic waste coming from the agri-food sector. These algae can grow in these liquids and assimilate the ammonium, which prevents this gas from being volatilised in the form of ammonia (NH3) and contaminating the atmosphere. Furthermore, the microalgae biomass obtained in this procedure can be used as a raw material for producing biogas or used as animal feed, compost or fertilizer besides being an extraordinary source of lutein, a powerful antioxidant used as a food supplement.

The decomposition process of agri-food waste in oxygen-free conditions produces effluent that has a high content of ammoniacal nitrogen, specifically between 2 and 5 grams per litre. Significant quantities of this waste is produced on farms and biogas plants, among other facilities. That is why it is essential to find suitable methods for managing it and for preventing the ammonia from being volatilised and ending up in aquifers and surface waters.

Chlamydomonas acidophila microalgae display characteristics suited to growing and reproducing in a medium that contains up to 50% of the liquid that comes from the decomposition of agri-food waste, as Neiker-Tecnalia researchers have been able to confirm. The main advantage in cultivating them lies in their capacity to develop in very acid mediums (pH 2-3) and to tolerate, to a high degree, the presence of heavy metals and high organic loads.

In addition to their environmental contribution owing to their capacity to assimilate ammoniacal nitrogen, they have a significant capacity to produce lutein, a powerful antioxidant that helps to delay cell and tissue deterioration and oxidation; lutein protects the organism from free radicals attack and is used in various therapeutic treatments. Optimum consumption of it leads to better vision, prevents cataract progression and also accumulates a large quantity of carotenoids -organic pigments- of commercial interest for the food industry.

Neiker-Tecnalia is currently developing various lines of research devoted to identifying and subsequently assessing microalgae strains that are of commercial and environmental interest. Among the projects being conducted features the quest for oil-rich microalgae that can be used to obtain biodiesel.

Source of new products and applications

Microalgae form a heterogeneous group of microorganisms distributed across all imaginable environments and which share the characteristic of being photosynthetic. These organisms perform an essential role in global ecology since they are responsible for fixing about 50% of the planet’s carbon. Through photosynthesis they use solar energy to trap atmospheric carbon dioxide and turn it into organic carbon.

Due to their huge biodiversity, microalgae represent one of the most promising sources of new products and applications. Today, they are a source of a large variety of compounds and biomolecules with a high commercial value and applications as wide ranging as food, dietetics, fine chemicals, biomedicine, cosmetics and bioenergy, all of which are an indication of their biotechnological potential.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Basque Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Irrigation, soil management strategies investigated for cold climate sweet cherry

Previous research efforts have identified several management strategies to improve establishment of new plantings of sweet cherry trees. These strategies include pulse fertigation, surface mulching, and polypropylene groundcover, which have been shown to improve nutrient and water acquisition. The authors of a new study say that, until now, little research has been conducted on water requirements for sweet cherry. Their study reveals important information about irrigation strategies for growers and includes recommendations that can inform management practices.

“There have been few studies on fruiting cherry trees with respect to novel irrigation strategies such as partial and deficit irrigation, which have been intensively researched worldwide for several other tree fruits,” said Gerry Neilsen, lead author of the study. Neilsen and colleagues Denise Neilsen, Frank Kappel, and T. Forge from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, conducted research to determine the response of two sweet cherry cultivars to a variety of nutrient and water management strategies (HortScience, February 2014). Experiments were conducted in a cold climate where variable spring temperatures among years allowed the team to evaluate climate effects on growth, productivity, and fruit quality.

Research was conducted in a sweet cherry orchard of ‘Cristalina’ and ‘Skeena’ cultivars on the dwarfing rootstock Gisela 6 at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Center in Summerland. Three soil management treatments were maintained throughout the experiment: an unamended control, a 10-cm wood waste mulch treatment, and an annual fertigated application of 20 g of phosphorus (as ammonium polyphosphate) per tree at full bloom.

Several soil management treatments, which improved establishment of sweet cherry on Gisela 6 rootstock, were continued for three fruiting seasons; two of these years had cool and wet springs. Analyses showed that high-frequency irrigation resulted in higher root zone soil moisture content relative to low-frequency irrigation despite reduced evaporative demand during part of the growing season. “An important factor affecting yield during the study period was weather, which affected cultivars differently. Low yield and cropload in two seasons were associated with cold, wet springs for ‘Skeena’ but not ‘Cristalina’. Differences in cultivar response were related to their different rates of phenological development,” Neilsen said.

Analyses revealed that cherry fruit size was minimally affected by soil and water management, although variations were closely associated with variations in cropload. The authors noted that low croploads during the study period may also have contributed to reduced effects of treatments on cherry quality characteristics other than size.

The researchers found that increased soluble solids concentration (SSC) occurred with low-frequency irrigation, while decreased SSC occurred with delayed harvest maturity in trees receiving phosphorus fertigation at bloom. “The mitigation of these effects at low cropload suggests that variations in cropload can make an important contribution to year-to-year variation in sweet cherry fruit quality and response to treatments,” the authors said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Risk Assessment vs. Risk Management: What’s the Difference?

(This article was posted April 16, 2014, on the European Food Safety Authority website and is reposted here with permission.)

The decision to separate the tasks of risk assessment and risk management just over a decade ago has transformed the safety of Europe’s food. And, while there is wide recognition that this change has strengthened the safety of the food chain, uncertainty can still exist over the difference in roles and responsibilities of risk assessors and risk managers.

Ensuring that food is safe from farm to fork is complex and challenging. It demands that strict safety measures are applied at all stages of the supply chain. Risk assessment and risk management are central pillars in this process.

Separation of roles

So what is the difference between these two key activities? Risk assessors provide independent scientific advice on potential threats in the food chain. Risk managers use this advice as a basis for making decisions to address these issues. At a European level, this separation of roles is fundamental and enshrined in law. It was introduced to make clear the distinction between science and politics and to place independent science-based assessment at the heart of policy-making.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Europe’s food is safe. But it is just one part of an EU-wide framework which includes many different partners. EFSA is the principal risk assessor in Europe, evaluating threats associated with the food chain. The risk managers are the European Commission, Member State authorities and the European Parliament. Between them, they are responsible for developing policies, authorizing products and making laws regarding food based on EFSA’s scientific advice.

Advice, not authorization

For example, EFSA evaluates the safety of GMO applications on a case-by-case basis. The Authority’s role ends there. It is the risk managers in the European Commission and Member States who decide whether to authorize each GMO. The same is true in a host of other areas: for pesticides such as neonicotinoids, for food contact materials used in food packaging and for feed additives, to name a few. In each case, EFSA provides independent science-based advice, and risk managers decide on the appropriate action using the Authority’s expert conclusions as the foundation for their decisions.

So how does EFSA work? It is a common misconception that scientists at EFSA carry out experiments and use the results as the basis for its scientific opinions. EFSA does not have laboratories nor does it generate new scientific research.

Instead, EFSA is tasked under EU law with collecting existing research and data. The Authority’s scientists then analyze this information and produce scientific advice to support decision-making by risk managers.

The food that reaches consumers’ plates is safer today than it has ever been – although important work always remains to be done. Central to this ongoing progress is the split between risk assessment and risk management – separating the experts who deliver science-based opinions from those charged with implementing rules based on this advice.

Food Safety News

Risk Assessment vs. Risk Management: What’s the Difference?

(This article was posted April 16, 2014, on the European Food Safety Authority website and is reposted here with permission.)

The decision to separate the tasks of risk assessment and risk management just over a decade ago has transformed the safety of Europe’s food. And, while there is wide recognition that this change has strengthened the safety of the food chain, uncertainty can still exist over the difference in roles and responsibilities of risk assessors and risk managers.

Ensuring that food is safe from farm to fork is complex and challenging. It demands that strict safety measures are applied at all stages of the supply chain. Risk assessment and risk management are central pillars in this process.

Separation of roles

So what is the difference between these two key activities? Risk assessors provide independent scientific advice on potential threats in the food chain. Risk managers use this advice as a basis for making decisions to address these issues. At a European level, this separation of roles is fundamental and enshrined in law. It was introduced to make clear the distinction between science and politics and to place independent science-based assessment at the heart of policy-making.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Europe’s food is safe. But it is just one part of an EU-wide framework which includes many different partners. EFSA is the principal risk assessor in Europe, evaluating threats associated with the food chain. The risk managers are the European Commission, Member State authorities and the European Parliament. Between them, they are responsible for developing policies, authorizing products and making laws regarding food based on EFSA’s scientific advice.

Advice, not authorization

For example, EFSA evaluates the safety of GMO applications on a case-by-case basis. The Authority’s role ends there. It is the risk managers in the European Commission and Member States who decide whether to authorize each GMO. The same is true in a host of other areas: for pesticides such as neonicotinoids, for food contact materials used in food packaging and for feed additives, to name a few. In each case, EFSA provides independent science-based advice, and risk managers decide on the appropriate action using the Authority’s expert conclusions as the foundation for their decisions.

So how does EFSA work? It is a common misconception that scientists at EFSA carry out experiments and use the results as the basis for its scientific opinions. EFSA does not have laboratories nor does it generate new scientific research.

Instead, EFSA is tasked under EU law with collecting existing research and data. The Authority’s scientists then analyze this information and produce scientific advice to support decision-making by risk managers.

The food that reaches consumers’ plates is safer today than it has ever been – although important work always remains to be done. Central to this ongoing progress is the split between risk assessment and risk management – separating the experts who deliver science-based opinions from those charged with implementing rules based on this advice.

Food Safety News

With Safeway, Cerberus acquires management talent

Albertsons, it appears, has acquired a succession plan for its aging lineup of leaders.

When Cerberus Capital Management and its partners acquired Albertsons and its sister chains from Supervalu and reunited the two Albertsons divisions a year ago, the company announced a roster of veteran Albertsons executives to run the stores. Some of those were coming out of retirement after long careers at the Boise, Idaho-based chain, and many others were thought to be nearing the end of their careers.

How long could they be expected to run this born-again conglomerate of banners?

Not really all that long, it appears.

With the announcement this month that Albertsons and Safeway plan to merge, it quickly became apparent which of the two was taking charge. Yes, it’s Cerberus’ money that is providing the fuel, but it seems as though it will be Safeway’s crew that will be steering the ship.

Jose Tamez, managing partner at executive search firm Austin-Michael, noted that Albertsons had been “thin” on talent, “with no succession planning upon recently bringing back some of the former execs.”

“They have just acquired a whole bunch of talent,” he said. “Safeway has deep talent.

“Now, they have the personnel assets to be more effective within those other operating units.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON LINKEDIN

Join SN’s LinkedIn Group to network with industry professionals.


In the announcement of the planned merger, the two companies noted that Albertsons CEO Bob Miller, one of the longtime Albertsons veterans, would become executive chairman of the combined companies, while Roberts Edwards, who just a year ago stepped into the CEO role at Safeway, would remain as president and CEO of Safeway/Albertsons.

“I and the rest of the Safeway team look forward to working with the Albertsons team to create an even stronger organization with a talented management team,” Edwards told analysts in a conference call discussing the merger.

It’s easy to see how Safeway’s management will have a significant hand in running this ship. Once the antitrust watchdogs force the disposal of some stores in overlapping markets, and the two companies sell off some other assets to trim the debt incurred from the merger, much of the remaining Albertsons operations could be readily folded into Safeway’s existing regional structure, which includes seven regions: Denver, Eastern, Northern California, Phoenix, Northwest, Texas and Southern California.

Exceptions might include Jewel-Osco in Chicago, where Safeway no longer has a presence as an operator, and Shaw’s/Star Market in New England.

And although Safeway has left the Philadelphia area though its sale of its Genuardi’s stores, Albertsons’ Acme stores could eventually merge with Safeway’s presence in the Baltimore-Washington region. With Chicago closed down, Safeway Eastern is now the company’s smallest division with about 127 stores, but would more than double that if it were to join forces with the 134-store Acme chain.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

Stater implements refrigerant management system

Stater Bros. Markets, San Bernardino, Calif., has implemented a cloud-based refrigerant management system at its 167 stores, according to Polar Technology, Brentwood, Tenn., manufacturer of the TrakRef system.


CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER

Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


According to Polar, TrakRef offers retailers the ability to manage refrigerant emissions — which affect the environment and boost operating costs — at multiple supermarket locations and also provides real-time visibility to inventory, usage, leaks, repairs and disposal.

In addition to being a refrigerant management system, TrakRef also provides the ability to automatically upload data into the California Air Resources Board’s Refrigerant Registration and Reporting System — a feature the company said will save Stater hundreds of hours of manually entering data.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

Gathering ‘wild’ food in the city: rethinking the role of foraging in urban ecosystem planning, management

Published today, these exploratory studies point to the importance for planners, managers and scholars to understand urban green spaces as not only providers of services, but also providers of material products.

In the USA, influential landscape architects of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, such as Frederick Law Olmsted and his student Charles Eliot, advocated the creation of networks of urban parks connected to each other and, through river corridors, to green spaces beyond the boundaries of urban settlements. These planners argued that public spaces with large amounts of vegetation were essential elements of healthy, functional cities.  These new landscapes emphasized aesthetics, relaxation, recreation, and refuge, reinforcing emerging notions about which human–nature interactions belonged in the city and which in the country.

Productive practices were defined as rural and, therefore, inappropriate inside the city and city parks. Thus, cities such as Columbus, Ohio materially and discursively erased subsistence gardening and rules prohibiting foraging in parks became commonplace (McLain et al.) Further, development and maintenance of the great urban parks demanded centralization and professionalization of their care. Decision-making powers and management authority were vested in municipal governments and professional park managers.

With the popularization of the concept of sustainable development in the late 1980s, planners saw the need for community involvement. They began to experiment with green space policies that explicitly seek to integrate social, economic, and ecological concerns in urban environments, recognizing and incorporating interstitial, raw, or ‘feral’ lands into park creation and protection. Such places, including the street trees and other vegetation that characterize these spaces, are important for meeting the community and ecosystem needs of low income urban neighborhoods that do not have large expanses of undeveloped land or existing parks. These shifts in the conceptualization of urban nature and human roles in it have, to some extent, created openings for the return of productive practices such as farming, horticulture and bee-keeping to public green spaces. However, urban foraging has received little attention in by planners of urban green spaces

Today, foragers in this unique study In Baltimore, Seattle, NYC and Philadelphia ranged from less than 5 years in Baltimore to more than 80 years in Seattle.  Income levels varied widely ranging from less than US$ 10,000 to more than US$ 250,000 and ethnic and racial diversity is common.  Foraged products consisted of whole plants (or fungi) or were derived from a variety of native and non-native species, above- and below-ground parts: bark, flowers, fruit, leaves, roots, stems, etc. Prominent among the non-native species are many edible fruit and nut species including common apple (Malus domestica), Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima), European or sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), European plum (Prunus domestica), and European pear (Pyrus communis). Edibles, including berries, fruits, nuts, greens, and young shoots, were by far the most frequently mentioned type of product in each study site.

In some cases, foragers’ ethnicity and/or place of origin appear to condition which products are foraged. For example, Chinese immigrants sought ginkgo nuts (G. biloba) in Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia; African-Americans in Baltimore and Philadelphia foraged young pokeweed shoots (Phytolacca americana); and American Indians in Seattle harvested evergreen huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum) and nettle leaves (Urtica dioica). Managers in the Philly II study also describe talking with foragers of Italian, Hispanic, and Eastern European origin, many seeking prized species for family recipes (e.g. morel mushrooms (Morchella  spp.) and greens common in Europe) or carrying on traditions of foraging practiced in their sending countries (e.g. harvesting mushrooms).

Most conservation practitioners interviewed in these studies had a negative or, at best, ambivalent view about the desirability of allowing or encouraging foraging, particularly in parks or natural areas. Of the four cities, Seattle and Philadelphia are the furthest along in rethinking the role of foraging in urban green spaces. The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department is actively seeking to rehabilitate former apple orchards in city parks, trees that it had neglected for decades. In 2012, the city approved the establishment of an experimental food forest in a neighborhood park, and the Parks and Recreation Department recently updated its regulations to permit foraging, provided that quantities harvested are small. Philadelphia has followed a similar path and is supporting efforts by the non-profit organization, Philadelphia Orchard Project, to establish public orchards in sites throughout the city, including revitalization of the Woodford Orchard in East Fairmont Park. The re-establishment of fruit picking in Fairmont Park brings the city back full circle to the late 1800s, when the park’s commissioners welcomed thousands of school children every Nutting Day, a local holiday at the time, to the park to harvest chestnuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts (Gabriel 2011). At the same time, Philadelphia seems quite hesitant to expand foraging beyond these forms of agricultural produce harvesting, with other types of foraging prohibited on park lands.

Published today, these exploratory studies point to the importance for planners, managers and scholars to understand urban green spaces as not only providers of services, but also providers of material products.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Nitrogen management studied in greenhouse pepper production

As consumer demand for year-round fresh produce increases, vegetable and fruit producers are facing significant environmental and sustainability issues, and are being challenged to examine traditional production practices in order to improve product quality while limiting environmental impact. A recent focus on both the positive and negative effects of nitrogen applications has researchers across the globe working to find methods that can increase crops’ “nitrogen use efficiency” (NUE) to contribute to more sustainable, responsible agricultural practices.

A study published in HortScience contains strategies for increasing NUE in greenhouse bell peppers, and demonstrates how the environmental impact of intensive agriculture can be minimized without harming fruit yield or quality.

Nitrogen, the most important and widely used agricultural nutrient, is also a major environmental contaminant. In many regions increased levels of nitrate found in groundwater have been attributed to the high rates of nitrogen fertilizer applied to surrounding crops. But sufficient nitrogen–an integral part of protein and chloroplast structure and function in plants–is essential for plant growth and development. According to Hagai Yasuor of the Gilat Research Center in Negev, nitrogen deficiency has been studied on the majority of horticultural crops, but the effects of an oversupply of nitrogen are not as widely understood. Yasuor and colleagues designed a study to investigate ways to reduce environmental pollution by increasing nitrogen use efficiency in vegetables without negatively affecting fruit yield or quality.

The scientists used bell pepper (Capsicum annum L.) in a case study for intensive vegetable cropping. “Pepper production is becoming commercially important in various regions of the world, including Israel, Spain, southern Europe, and north Africa, where the crop is grown from fall to spring in greenhouses and net houses,” the authors explained. They selected two pepper cultivars with different growth habits for the study, and drip-irrigated the greenhouse plants with solutions containing four different nitrogen concentrations. They then measured fruit yield, quality, and nutritional value of all plants.

“We found that maximum yields occurred when peppers were irrigated with N at 56.2 mg·L-1,” Yasuor said. “Higher concentrations of nitrogen loaded more nitrogen into the environment, while the 56.2-mg·L-1 concentration was almost completely taken up and used by the plants.” The experiments also showed that nitrogen treatments had no significant negative effect on pepper fruit physical or chemical quality, including sugar content and acidity. Additionally, reduced nitrogen application did not affect nutritional quality components of the pepper fruit such as beta-carotene and lycopene content, nor did it reduce total antioxidant activity.

“Our results demonstrate how the environmental impact of intensive agriculture can be minimized without harming fruit yield or quality by reducing nitrogen application level and adopting cultivars with improved nitrogen use efficiency,” the authors concluded.

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/48/10/1241.abstract

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Regaining the Growth Momentum: Issues and Imperatives

(Address by Dr. K. C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India at the Sixth Annual Banking Conference “Bank on it, 2013” organised by the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai on Oct 5, 2013) Shri Pratip Chaudhuri, Former Chairman, State Bank of India; Dr. Rajan Saxena, Vice-Chancellor, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management [...]

The post Regaining the Growth Momentum: Issues and Imperatives appeared first on Corporate Law Reporter.

Understanding soil nitrogen management using synchrotron technology

Oct. 1, 2013 — As food security becomes an increasingly important global issue, scientists are looking for the best way to maintain the organic matter in soils using different methods of fertilization and crop rotation.

Increasing the organic matter in soils is key to growing crops for numerous reasons, including increased water-holding capacity and improved tilth. Scientists have recently used the Canadian Light Source (CLS) to evaluate the effects of various sources of supplemental nitrogen fertilizer on the chemical composition of soil organic matter. Results of their experiments to study this question were recently published in the journal Biogeochemistry.

“The big question I had when we started this research was how different nitrogen fertilizer supplements affected the overall soil organic matter composition,” says Dr. Adam Gillespie, a post-doctoral fellow working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). “We also wanted to look at how we could optimize the use of nitrogen, since nitrogen fertilizers can be a solution, but also a problem.”

Gillespie and his colleagues from AAFC, the University of Saskatchewan, St. Francis Xavier University, Lakehead University, and the CLS tested the hypothesis that the chemical composition of SOM would be different if the supplemental nitrogen originated from a synthetic fertilizer product, animal manure or a legume source.

The invention of synthetic fertilizer, where nitrogen is taken from an inert chemical form in the air and turned into ammonia, has had a profound effect on nitrogen cycling. In fact, astonishingly, humans have doubled the amount of available nitrogen in the biosphere.

According to Gillespie, 40 per cent of people alive today derive their nitrogen nutrition from synthetically-fixed fertilizer.

“Indeed, fertilization has had a profound effect on humanity as a whole. The downside of nitrogen fertilization is that run-off of nitrates to the surface waters or leaching of nitrates to groundwater cause problems with water quality and eutrophication in lakes. The recent algal blooms on Lake Winnipeg are a prime example of this nitrogen pollution. Secondly, nitrogen can be converted to nitrous oxide, which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Before fertilizers, nitrogen was introduced into the soil through rainfall or native pulse crops, so when fertilizer was developed, it revolutionized farming.”

He cites three common ways for producers to introduce nitrogen into soil: synthetic fertilizer; manure or other organic amendments; and through cultivation of nitrogen fixing pulse crops. For all these methods, the nitrogen comes in different forms. Synthetic fertilizer is available as a variety of commercial products, with different nitrogen-release times, whereas manure and pulse crops need to be broken down by microbial decomposition before nitrogen becomes available.

Gillespie explained that fungi is great at breaking down lignin in plants and bacteria can help break down the rest, but adds, “nitrogen shifts the ability of bacteria to compete, so we are hoping to find out more about the role of fungi in the decomposition of organic matter in soil.” Manure and pulse crops also add more organic matter to the soil, a benefit not realized using synthetic fertilizers.

The results of the experiment showed that organic matter in soil was heavily influenced by the type of supplemental nitrogen added.

“The overall trend showed that N additions allowed crop residues to decompose more completely. Specifically, we found less plant-type compounds in soils receiving nitrogen. In addition, we found that among the different nitrogen treatments, manure-enriched soil had the highest amounts of compounds related to microbial turnover,” said Gillespie. The findings will prove important for farmers and scientists alike as they work to maximize the potential growth of food while maintaining healthy soils.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Understanding soil nitrogen management using synchrotron technology

Oct. 1, 2013 — As food security becomes an increasingly important global issue, scientists are looking for the best way to maintain the organic matter in soils using different methods of fertilization and crop rotation.

Increasing the organic matter in soils is key to growing crops for numerous reasons, including increased water-holding capacity and improved tilth. Scientists have recently used the Canadian Light Source (CLS) to evaluate the effects of various sources of supplemental nitrogen fertilizer on the chemical composition of soil organic matter. Results of their experiments to study this question were recently published in the journal Biogeochemistry.

“The big question I had when we started this research was how different nitrogen fertilizer supplements affected the overall soil organic matter composition,” says Dr. Adam Gillespie, a post-doctoral fellow working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). “We also wanted to look at how we could optimize the use of nitrogen, since nitrogen fertilizers can be a solution, but also a problem.”

Gillespie and his colleagues from AAFC, the University of Saskatchewan, St. Francis Xavier University, Lakehead University, and the CLS tested the hypothesis that the chemical composition of SOM would be different if the supplemental nitrogen originated from a synthetic fertilizer product, animal manure or a legume source.

The invention of synthetic fertilizer, where nitrogen is taken from an inert chemical form in the air and turned into ammonia, has had a profound effect on nitrogen cycling. In fact, astonishingly, humans have doubled the amount of available nitrogen in the biosphere.

According to Gillespie, 40 per cent of people alive today derive their nitrogen nutrition from synthetically-fixed fertilizer.

“Indeed, fertilization has had a profound effect on humanity as a whole. The downside of nitrogen fertilization is that run-off of nitrates to the surface waters or leaching of nitrates to groundwater cause problems with water quality and eutrophication in lakes. The recent algal blooms on Lake Winnipeg are a prime example of this nitrogen pollution. Secondly, nitrogen can be converted to nitrous oxide, which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Before fertilizers, nitrogen was introduced into the soil through rainfall or native pulse crops, so when fertilizer was developed, it revolutionized farming.”

He cites three common ways for producers to introduce nitrogen into soil: synthetic fertilizer; manure or other organic amendments; and through cultivation of nitrogen fixing pulse crops. For all these methods, the nitrogen comes in different forms. Synthetic fertilizer is available as a variety of commercial products, with different nitrogen-release times, whereas manure and pulse crops need to be broken down by microbial decomposition before nitrogen becomes available.

Gillespie explained that fungi is great at breaking down lignin in plants and bacteria can help break down the rest, but adds, “nitrogen shifts the ability of bacteria to compete, so we are hoping to find out more about the role of fungi in the decomposition of organic matter in soil.” Manure and pulse crops also add more organic matter to the soil, a benefit not realized using synthetic fertilizers.

The results of the experiment showed that organic matter in soil was heavily influenced by the type of supplemental nitrogen added.

“The overall trend showed that N additions allowed crop residues to decompose more completely. Specifically, we found less plant-type compounds in soils receiving nitrogen. In addition, we found that among the different nitrogen treatments, manure-enriched soil had the highest amounts of compounds related to microbial turnover,” said Gillespie. The findings will prove important for farmers and scientists alike as they work to maximize the potential growth of food while maintaining healthy soils.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Strategies for improved management of fresh market spinach

Sep. 16, 2013 — Throughout California’s fertile central coast region, fresh spinach is a high-production, high-value crop. Spinach can be finicky, requiring sufficient nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation to ensure ideal growth, and to meet industry quality standards such as its defining deep green color. These production practices–combined with a shallow root system and the crop’s intensive production cycle–can increase the potential of detrimental nitrate leaching. Recent water quality monitoring in the region has found widespread incidents of NO3 levels that exceed the Federal Drinking Water standard. As a result, growers have come under increasing pressure to improve crop nutrient use efficiency (NUE), and thereby minimize NO3 losses from production fields. In an effort to inform future spinach production practices, scientists Aaron Heinrich, Richard Smith, and Michael Cahn evaluated spinach nutrient uptake and water use in the Salinas and San Juan Valleys of California.

The team explained that spinach producers can improve nitrogen use efficiency by applying fertilizer at the optimal time and rate to match crop nitrogen uptake, but that data needed to make these critical fertilizer decisions was not available prior to their study. “No studies had evaluated high-density planting of clipped or bunched spinach grown on 80-inch beds,” said lead author Aaron Heinrich. “Our study was specifically designed to provide data on the nitrogen uptake characteristics of spinach and to evaluate ways to improve nitrogen fertilizer management.”

Heinrich, Smith, and Cahn evaluated grower fertilizer programs, and measured spinach nitrogen uptake over an entire production season with a range of soil conditions, climatic conditions, and cropping histories. They also conducted four replicated fertilizer trials of first- and second-cropped fields.

“Over the growing season, NO3 levels in the soil can build up due to a combination of unused fertilizer and mineralization of crop residue and soil organic matter,” the team reported “Our evaluations showed that soil NO3 testing can be used to improve the nutrient use efficiency of spinach. We found that soil testing would be most effective in spinach production at two critical points: at-planting, and before the midseason fertilizer application when nitrogen use by spinach greatly increases.” The comprehensive report, including additional implications for nitrogen fertilizer management of fresh market spinach, can be found in the June 2013 issue of HortTechnology.

Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aaron Heinrich, Richard Smith, And Michael Cahn. Nutrient and Water Use of Fresh Market Spinach. HortTechnology, June 2013

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Strategies for improved management of fresh market spinach

Sep. 16, 2013 — Throughout California’s fertile central coast region, fresh spinach is a high-production, high-value crop. Spinach can be finicky, requiring sufficient nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation to ensure ideal growth, and to meet industry quality standards such as its defining deep green color. These production practices–combined with a shallow root system and the crop’s intensive production cycle–can increase the potential of detrimental nitrate leaching. Recent water quality monitoring in the region has found widespread incidents of NO3 levels that exceed the Federal Drinking Water standard. As a result, growers have come under increasing pressure to improve crop nutrient use efficiency (NUE), and thereby minimize NO3 losses from production fields. In an effort to inform future spinach production practices, scientists Aaron Heinrich, Richard Smith, and Michael Cahn evaluated spinach nutrient uptake and water use in the Salinas and San Juan Valleys of California.

The team explained that spinach producers can improve nitrogen use efficiency by applying fertilizer at the optimal time and rate to match crop nitrogen uptake, but that data needed to make these critical fertilizer decisions was not available prior to their study. “No studies had evaluated high-density planting of clipped or bunched spinach grown on 80-inch beds,” said lead author Aaron Heinrich. “Our study was specifically designed to provide data on the nitrogen uptake characteristics of spinach and to evaluate ways to improve nitrogen fertilizer management.”

Heinrich, Smith, and Cahn evaluated grower fertilizer programs, and measured spinach nitrogen uptake over an entire production season with a range of soil conditions, climatic conditions, and cropping histories. They also conducted four replicated fertilizer trials of first- and second-cropped fields.

“Over the growing season, NO3 levels in the soil can build up due to a combination of unused fertilizer and mineralization of crop residue and soil organic matter,” the team reported “Our evaluations showed that soil NO3 testing can be used to improve the nutrient use efficiency of spinach. We found that soil testing would be most effective in spinach production at two critical points: at-planting, and before the midseason fertilizer application when nitrogen use by spinach greatly increases.” The comprehensive report, including additional implications for nitrogen fertilizer management of fresh market spinach, can be found in the June 2013 issue of HortTechnology.

Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aaron Heinrich, Richard Smith, And Michael Cahn. Nutrient and Water Use of Fresh Market Spinach. HortTechnology, June 2013

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Soil biodiversity will be crucial to future land management and response to climate change

Aug. 12, 2013 — Research by scientists at The University of Manchester and Lancaster shows maintaining healthy soil biodiversity can play an important role in optimising land management programmes to reap benefits from the living soil. The findings, published in the latest edition of the journal PNAS, extend the understanding about the factors that regulate soil biodiversity.

The team says more research on soil food webs — the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil — and their response to land use and climate change could also improve predictions of climate change impacts on ecosystems.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, a team of researchers from across Europe looked at soil life in 60 sites across four countries, the UK, Sweden, Greece and the Czech Republic, to assess the role of soil food webs in nutrient cycles in agricultural soils. Soil food webs describe the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil and their complex living system interacting with other substances such as carbon and nitrogen. The study shows for the first time that there is a strong link between soil organisms and the overall functioning of ecosystems.

Until now most studies which have investigated the reduction of soil biodiversity and how this affects carbon and nitrogen cycling have been laboratory-based or focused on one group of organisms in the soil rather than the wider picture. This is the first time researchers have looked at the entire community of organisms. The team explored soil found under land used in various ways including intensive wheat rotation farming and permanent grassland. It found there were consistent links between soil organisms and soil food web properties and ecosystem functioning on a large scale, across European countries.

Dr Franciska De vries, from The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences who was lead author of the research, said: “We found that the condition of the soil was less tied to how the land was used and more influenced by the soil food web properties.

“Soils contain a vast diversity of organisms which are crucially important for humans. These organisms help capture carbon dioxide (CO2) which is crucial for helping to reduce global warming and climate change.

“This research highlights the importance of soil organisms and demonstrates that there is a whole world beneath our feet, inhabited by small creatures that we can’t even see most of the time. By liberating nitrogen for plant growth and locking up carbon in the soil they play an important role in supporting life on Earth.”

The researchers hope the findings will help in predicting how land use and climate change will impact on ecosystems and looking at ways to minimise negative changes.

Dr De vries, from The University of Manchester who carried out the research while at Lancaster University, said: “Soil biodiversity is under threat by a range of pressures such as urbanisation, climate change, pollution and expanding production of food, fibre and biofuel but the topic remains severely understudied.

“We hope that this research will in the longer term will help us to devise ways for farmers, landowners and conservation agencies to optimise the way they manage land to reap benefits from the living soil and reduce carbon emissions.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Sun World acquired by asset management firm

Sun World International, a grower, marketer and breeder of premium produce varieties with a full line of seedless grapes, sweet peppers, stone fruits and other fruits and vegetables, based in Bakersfield, CA, has been acquired by a California-based asset management firm with a focus on agriculture and other sustainable resources.

Renewable Resources Group Inc. purchased Sun World International LLC from Black Diamond Capital Management LLC, an alternative asset management firm based in Greenwich, CT.

Sun-World-logoThe transaction closed Aug. 9 and Sun World operations are continuing unchanged, according to an Aug. 12 press release. Terms of the acquisition were not made public.

Black Diamond purchased Sun World in January 2005, submitting the winning bid of $ 127.75 million at an auction following the produce firm’s emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The firm has been owned by Cadiz Inc., which purchased it in 1996 after an earlier Sun World bankruptcy.

Renewable Resources Group has been active in Kern County for more than a decade, and has extensive farming operations in Riverside County, both of which are home to significant Sun World operations. About two years ago, RRG purchased approximately 4,000 acres near Blythe, CA, from Sun World.

“For the past eight years, Sun World has benefited enormously from its relationship with Black Diamond,” Dave Dever, president of Sun World, said in the press release. “Black Diamond has worked with us to stabilize, grow and cement our place as a leader in the industry. As we continue to grow the company and focus on delivering superior products and services to our customers, a partnership with RRG is exciting. This new partnership will allow Sun World to continue to strengthen and grow alongside its customers.”

“Sun World is an extraordinarily valuable company with a strong and experienced management team and first-class employees who deliver famously delicious fruits and vegetables and industry-leading marketing, licensing and research-and-development operations,” Ari Swiller, president of Renewable Resources Group, added in the press release. “It’s a company we’ve watched and respected for a long time.”

Black Diamond’s Christopher W. Parker, who is Sun World’s outgoing chairman of the board, added in the press release, “Sun World has been an important portfolio company for Black Diamond, and we are proud to have worked with Dave Dever, the Sun World president and CEO, and his team. We are very proud of what we have all accomplished together, and we are pleased that this acquisition provides Sun World with the opportunity to continue to thrive and build for the future.”

“We all know this is the height of the season for Sun World, and so the change in ownership will be swift and seamless, with no change to operations, personnel or administration,” Swiller added in the press release. “Sun World’s senior executive team will continue in their posts. Employees’ job responsibilities and benefit plans will not change. And, most importantly, Sun World will continue to provide its customers and partners with the delicious fresh produce they know and love.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines