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SCIENCE
May 28, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
The slow eastward migration of monsoons across the Asian continent initially supported the formation of the Harappan civilization in the Indus valley by allowing production of large agricultural surpluses, then decimated the civilization as water supplies for farming dried up, researchers reported Monday. The results provide the first good explanation for why the Indus valley flourished for two millennia, sprouting large cities and an empire the size of contemporary Egypt and Mesopotamia combined, then dwindled away to small villages and isolated farms.
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SCIENCE
April 27, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Analyzing DNA from four ancient skeletons and comparing it with thousands of genetic samples from living humans, a group of Scandinavian scientists reported that agriculture initially spread through Europe because farmers expanded their territory northward, not because the more primitive foragers already living there adopted it on their own. The genetic profiles of three Neolithic hunter-gatherers and one farmer who lived in the same region of...
SCIENCE
April 26, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Organic agriculture generally comes at a cost of smaller harvests compared with conventional agriculture, but that gap can be narrowed with careful selection of crop type, growing conditions and management techniques, according a new study. Organic farming has been touted by supporters as a more environmentally sustainable method of farming that's better for consumers because crops contain fewer man-made chemicals. But without the high-nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides often employed in conventional agriculture, it's also less efficient.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2012 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
A spectacular stretch of Northern California coastline that includes ocean-side bluffs, beaches, rolling hills and redwood groves will be permanently protected from development under a landmark deal approved by the state Coastal Commission. Nearly 10 square miles of untouched shoreline, wooded glens, streams and farmland in northern Santa Cruz County, extending several miles inland, will be transferred to the state and federal governments, which will operate it as open space and preserve portions for agriculture.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2012 | By Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times
Area homeowners are responding to agricultural officials' call to action to help save the state's $2-billion citrus industry and their beloved backyard trees from a bacterium that the Citrus Research Board has referred to as "a death sentence for California citrus. " About 100 worried homeowners buzzed with questions during an information session last week in the San Gabriel Valley. State agricultural inspectors have enacted a quarantine in a five-mile radius around the neighborhood where Huanglongbing, or yellow dragon disease, was first confirmed March 30 in a citrus tree in Hacienda Heights.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2012 | By Steve Chawkins and Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times
A years-long environmental battle ended abruptly when the company producing a fumigant for strawberries and other crops yanked it from U.S. distribution, bringing relief to activists and raising concern among growers. Methyl iodide, meant to replace an ozone-depleting fumigant being phased out by an international treaty, was believed to have little effect on air quality. But some scientists say it can cause cancer, brain damage and miscarriages among workers who handle it and can be a threat to ground water.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 1, 2012 | Richard Simon and Bettina Boxall
The House approved a bill Wednesday that rewrites two decades of water law in California, wiping out environmental protections and dropping reforms of federal irrigation policy that have long irritated agribusiness in the Central Valley. The legislation passed on a mostly party line vote of 246-175 in the Republican-controlled House. But its prospects of becoming law are poor. The White House has issued a veto threat, and it is unlikely to survive the Democratic-controlled Senate, where both of California's senators have vowed to work against it. "It essentially says farmers will get theirs and nothing for anybody else," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 23, 2012 | By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
A chicken, a raven and a peacock greeted Lisa and Ron Cerda when they moved into their southeastern Tarzana neighborhood almost two decades ago. It was just the sort of bucolic reception the couple hoped for when they fled crowded West Los Angeles for one of the city's rare residential-agricultural zones, a district that permits farming and the keeping of livestock. Today, the Cerdas say their rustic neighborhood is threatened with extinction. Schools, synagogues and commercial businesses have crept into the district, despite dogged opposition from dozens of residents.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 25, 2011 | By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
Kelly Bayer took a vacation from her job in a sleep laboratory by toiling in a vegetable patch in Santa Barbara. The sun beat down on her back as she worked a garden hose over a collection of tomatoes, peppers, carrots and onions that would eventually be consumed on the organic farm. "I'm kind of interested in farming and sustainable living," Bayer said, before giving away a bit of her real motivation for working on the farm: a quick and cheap way to visit the West Coast. Bayer, 26, was part of an itinerant crew passing through the one-acre property that included a nursing student from Korea, an engineering student from France and a free-spirited 18-year-old fleeing the East Coast before starting college.
BUSINESS
November 23, 2011 | By Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times
As Californians savor their Thanksgiving feasts, the states' farmers are especially thankful. California's agriculture sector is on track for a record year, a rare bright spot in the state's economy. Prices for cotton, grapes and other crops are near all-time highs. Foreign buyers are gobbling California almonds, grapes, citrus and dairy products. Agricultural exports through September are up 16% over the same period last year. Net farm income is projected to post strong gains in 2011 after nearly doubling over the previous decade.
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