LINCANG, Yunnan – “I can’t expect any profit this year and I don’t know what to do next year,” said Li Xiuzhong, a 65-year-old sugarcane farmer in Lincang, Southwest China’s Yunnan province.
“We have 180 hectares of sugarcane last year and actually the beginning of the growing season was good due to sufficient rainfall,” he said. “But after June, things got worse so quickly and now there is no harvest in 30 hectares.”
His expectations have also dropped from five tons of crops for each hectare to three tons.
“These are already the best drought-resistant seeds and I have ploughed another 40 hectares for next year, hoping to earn more money,” he said. “But now, I have lost confidence in growing them under current weather conditions.”
He said he had grown sugarcane for more than 20 years and this year is the worst in terms of weather.
He is living on income from previous years.
Lincang used to be covered with thick forests and has rich water resources, but since the 2010 drought, its water conservation facilities have been under threat and agricultural production has been challenged.
Lincang’s sugar and tea industries are two pillars of its economy. Sixty percent of sugarcane crops were affected by the weather in 2010 and there was a conspicuous reduction of total production.
Ganhua Company is a major sugar factory in Yunxian county, and is experiencing a hard time with this year’s harvest.
According to Wei Xuehua, general director of the company, the scarcity of water has handed the company, as well as sugarcane farmers and delivery drivers, a total loss of 19 million yuan ($3 million) so far.
In addition, rats have also severely affected the production of sugarcane in the region as water can only be found in the plants. Continue reading
AUSTRALIAN researchers have discovered that vast, pancake-shaped bodies of cool water, about 40 kilometres in diameter, are spinning out of Bass Strait into the Tasman Sea, and then turning east to head for the Indian Ocean.
The phenomenon happens at a stately pace, with perhaps one giant disc of water each year making it as far as the southern coast of Western Australia, after a journey of several years.
”At first we thought maybe there was a malfunction in the instruments,” said Mark Baird, an oceanographer and senior research fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney.
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”But there was no malfunction, we had just run into a ‘wall’ or water that was relatively sharp, and undiluted by the water around it. We were able to establish that it was a disc shape, a few hundred metres high and about 40 kilometres across.”
Dr Baird and fellow researcher Ken Ridgway from the CSIRO, were analysing data from a deep-diving ocean glider, a torpedo-like machine that dives a kilometre under the sea and then rises back to the surface, measuring water temperature and salinity.
Dozens of the gliders are deployed in the oceans of Australia’s coast and further afield, building up a detailed picture of ocean currents. Continue reading
For years, San Francisco’s Ocean Beach has been under assault by such powerful surf that a fierce winter storm can scour away 25 feet of bluff in just days.
The startling pace of the erosion near the San Francisco Zoo has compelled the city to spend $5 million to shore up the crumbling bluffs. The strategy has been simple: drop huge rocks and mounds of sand to protect the nearby Great Highway and the sewer pipes underneath from being destroyed by the crashing waves.
But as the enormous rocks have piled up, adding to a jumble of concrete — chunks of curb and bits and pieces of gutters — from parking lots that have tumbled onto the shore, so too have the demands that the city get rid of it all and let the coastline retreat naturally.
Now, San Francisco finds itself under fire from environmentalists, who call the rock and rubble unsightly and harmful to the beach, and the California Coastal Commission, which regulates development along the state’s 1,100-mile coastline but has refused to sign off on the fortifications, some of which have sat on the shore for 15 years without its permission. Continue reading
THIS summer’s weather may be a let-down, but Sydneysiders can enjoy some of the lowest fruit and vegetable prices in years.
”You better believe it … I’m selling four mangoes for $5. Last year it was two for $5,” said Frank Vecchio, owner of the Wynyard Park fruit stand in Sydney’s CBD. In his 20 years of business, Mr Vecchio said he has not seen such quantities of produce at fruit and vegetable wholesale markets.
The chief executive officer of NSW Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, Colin Gray, said the oversupply was caused by a decline in consumer demand due to the recent unseasonal wet weather. Consequently, wholesale and retail prices have fallen.
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”The problem with the weather is that people are not buying as much, not enjoying barbecues with the fruit and salad bowls,” Mr Gray said.
In particular, the cooler weather has not enthused customers to buy traditional summer fruits such as mangoes, stone fruits and watermelons, according to Bill Chalk, wholesaler and partner of Southern Cross Produce.
He said wholesale prices for mangoes were $1-$2 per kilo compared with $5 per kilo last year and white peaches were $1-$1.50 per kilo, the lowest in years.
”The lower prices are a great thing for the public but it’s heartbreaking for the farmers,” said Mr Chalk, Continue reading
The largest dam demolition in the nation’s history will begin Saturday when an excavator claws away at the concrete supports for Washington’s 108-foot Elwha River Dam, a ceremonial act of destruction that will signal not only the structure’s demise but the latest step in a broad shift in the way Americans are managing rivers.
Faced with aging infrastructure and declining fish stocks, communities are tearing down dams across the country in key waterways that can generate more economic benefits when they’re unfettered than when they’re controlled.
“What once seemed radical is now mainstream,” said American Rivers President Bob Irvin, whose group has advocated dam removal for environmental reasons. “All of these are experiments in how nature can restore itself, and the Elwha is the biggest example of that.”
The pace of removal has quickened, with 241 dams demolished between 2006 and 2010, more than a 40 percent increase over the previous five years. Many of them are in the East and Midwest, having powered everything, including textile mills and paper operations at the turn of the 20th century.
A drumbeat of litigation by tribes and environmental groups has pushed federal officials to dismantle some dams that otherwise would have remained in place. Although this has led to political fights in regions where dams matter the most, such as the Pacific Northwest, it has also forged historic compromises.
“The Elwha River restoration marks a new era of river restoration in which broad community support provides the bedrock for work to sustain our rivers and the communities that rely on them,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. Continue reading
FOR bull breeder Tim Vincent it is a bitter irony that his beloved country can change from drought to flooding rains, and back again, in just a few short months.
His family’s 850ha property outside Gunnedah in northern NSW was like a “little bit of paradise” after last season’s early rains. Today its ragged hills and plains are thick with parched grass, the nutritional value of cardboard, he said.
Mr Vincent, who shares the property with his wife Margaret, their two children and his now-retired parents, has been hand-feeding most of the family’s 450 prime cattle for months.
“I didn’t expect, after we had fences washed out and cattle all over the road in December, that it would change back so quickly,” he said. “Spring is our growing season, but I can tell you there’s not much growing happening here now.”
Mrs Vincent agreed: “Everyone thought we would have at least one or two good years.” Rainfall gauges in nearby Gunnedah recorded barely 250mm in the year to date, compared with an annual average of more than 600mm.
The Bureau of Meteorology puts the chance of making up the difference between now and summer at perhaps 25 per cent.
Even though most dams in the area are almost full, an ugly ochre patch on the NSW Department of Primary Industries agricultural conditions map for last month marks drought in central-northern NSW. Parts of three districts were drought-declared last month, and five more downgraded from satisfactory to marginal.
A spokesman for NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said she was aware small pockets of the state had slipped into drought. “The minister has noted that there are small portions of NSW that have not received the rain that everywhere else has. But in a state as big as NSW you won’t get a good season (for) everyone.” Continue reading
LUBBOCK, Texas — Randy McGee spent $28,000 in one month pumping water onto about 500 acres in West Texas before he decided to give up irrigating 75 acres of corn and focus on other crops that stood a better chance in the drought.
He thought rain might come and save those 75 acres, but it didn’t and days of triple-digit heat sucked the remaining moisture from the soil. McGee walked recently through rows of sunbaked and stunted stalks, one of thousands of farmers counting his losses amid record heat and drought this year.
The drought has spread over much of the southern U.S., leaving Oklahoma the driest it has been since the 1930s and setting records from Louisiana to New Mexico. But the situation is especially severe in Texas, which trails only California in agricultural productivity.
McGee is still watering another variety of corn, cotton and sorghum but the loss of nearly one-sixth of his acres after spending so much on irrigation weighs on him.
“Kind of depressing,” the 34-year-old farmer said. “You use that much of a resource and nothing to show for it. This year, no matter what you do, it’s not quite enough.” Continue reading
When Ed Archuleta first arrived in El Paso to manage the local water authority, the cotton barons and cattle men who run this desert city had a blunt message for him. This is Texas, they told him. We don’t do conservation.
It’s a good thing Archuleta didn’t listen. As a record drought scorched America’s south-west this spring, El Paso went 119 days without rain. The Rio Grande, which forms the border with Mexico, shrunk into its banks. An hour’s drive out of town, ranchers sold off their cattle so they wouldn’t have to watch them die.
Archuleta, in his office overlooking a long seam of strip malls, saw no reason for panic – even though, in his words, the amount of precipitation in the first rain this year was about as much as someone spitting on a water gauge.
“We’re going to be fine this summer,” he said. “We’re basically drought-proof.”
The city will be fine next year too, even if it doesn’t rain, and even if the Rio Grande stays low. “We can handle drought next year. Theoretically, even if we have no water in the river, even if there wasn’t a single drop of water coming from the river, we could make it through the summer,” Continue reading
China issued a “level three” alert as the medium-to-lower reaches of the Yangtze River braced for more heavy rain, the China Meteorological Administration said on its website today.
Heavy downpours, including storms and torrential rain in some areas, will affect parts of Jiangsu, Hunan, Zhejiang, Anhui and Hubei provinces as early as tomorrow, the forecaster said. Landslides, floods and mudslides may occur as the soil becomes loose after a recent drought, it said.
Flooding has killed 94 people along the medium-to-lower reaches of the Yangtze River this month, with another 78 people missing, according to a China National Radio report yesterday. The region had previously suffered from a drought. Continue reading
Instructor: Mike Vierra Ph: 280-7283
Kahana Maui — June 18th, 2011
Our 19th annual irrigation class will be held on 6-18-11 on the west side at 105 Ala Hoku Pl. (Friendly Isle Landscape base yard – CLICK for MAP) the class will focus on irrigation troubleshooting, repair and basic hydraulics. The class is open to all entry level and intermediate level irrigation technicians. The following will be covered:
- Controller diagnostics
- Electric Valve repair
- Backflow Repair
- Field wiring diagnostics
Each student should brig a small socket set, screwdriver; slotted and Phillips, and a voltmeter. All students will do hands on troubleshooting and repair so come dressed accordingly.
Class size is limited to the first 20 students to register. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Please register early.