We hope that today’s “READERS FORUM” will provoke honest and open dialogue concerning issues that we, as responsible citizens of this community, need to address in a rational and responsible way? WHATS ON YOUR MIND TODAY?Todays“Readers Poll” question is:: Who had the most influence in Tuesday’s election?If you would like to advertise on the CCO please contact us [email protected]: City-County Observer Comment Policy. Be kind to people. No personal attacks or harassment will not be tolerated and shall be removed from our site.We understand that sometimes people don’t always agree and discussions may become a little heated. The use of offensive language, insults against commenters will not be tolerated and will be removed from our site.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
If you really care for the soil in your garden, you won’t want toabandon it for the winter. One of the best things you can do forit is to plant a winter cover crop in it.Cover crops conserve nutrients, support a high biologicalactivity and produce a superior soil structure. When you plowthem into the soil, they’re sometimes called “green manures.”Green manures offer succulent growth which decomposes easily inthe soil, releasing nutrients. While they’re smothering weeds,they keep nutrients from leaching, too, and protect the soil overthe winter.Cover Crops Improve SoilCover crops are any plant you sow into the garden that improvesthe soil. The actual benefits depend on the plant type and howmuch you grow.Annual cover crops are usually grown as green manures. That is,they are turned into the soil while still green, normally justbefore they flower. Their greatest value is usually in the topgrowth. But the roots are often beneficial, too.Varieties of green manures are chosen for their fast, vigorousgrowth and high production of green, succulent top growth.The green matter decomposes quickly in the soil. When it does,the result is a flush of biological activity and a quick releaseof nutrients, some of which the roots may have accumulated fromthe subsoil. The succulent residues replace some of the humus,building a dynamic soil system.The downside of growing a green manure is that it requires theland be left idle for a time. That’s unpopular with manygardeners.However, crops other than legumes may be grown as “smother crops”to control weeds. Commonly used as a winter cover and catch crop,they protect the soil from erosion and conserve nutrientsotherwise lost.Good Cover ChoicesTraditional choices for green manures are buckwheat, small grainssuch as rye and oats and annual grasses such as rye grass andwheat.Other crops are possible, however. Rapeseed, for instance, makesa good green manure. But don’t follow it with another planting ofthe cabbage family.Sometimes legumes are grown. Austrian winter peas are commonlyplanted in the fall for overwinter growth where wintertemperatures aren’t severe.The green manure sod not only feeds soil organisms but protectsthe soil from direct sun and rain.Over the years, the combination of the high biological activityand the extensive root system of grass leads to a superior soilstructure and a slow, but steady, increase in soil humus.When a green manure sod is plowed under, a rapid breakdown occurswith a sudden release of nutrients stored over a long time.That’s why a cultivated crop following a green manure sod isusually very successful.To learn more about green manures and other cover crops, contactthe local county Extension Service office.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest owner of equities – made its second highest return in percentage terms ever last year, topped only by the bounce back that followed the global financial crisis in 2009.Releasing annual results for the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) this morning, its manager Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) presented a picture of a fund now more heavily dominated by the stock of tech giants Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet, and finally having reached its strategic allocation to equities.Yngve Slyngstad, NBIM chief executive officer, said in its latest annual report: “2019 brought a record-high krone return of NOK1.692tn (€164bn), and the percentage return was the second-highest in the fund’s history, topped only by the rebound from the financial crisis in 2009.”The return of 19.9% for the year follows the 2018 loss of 6.2%, but is still below the 25.6% return the fund achieved in 2009 after the 23.3% loss it suffered the year before. The market value of the fund, which was created to invest Norway’s oil revenues, increased to NOK10.1tn at the end of 2019 from NOK8.3tn a year before, mainly on its investment returns, but also because of an NOK18bn transfer of capital from the government and the effect of the krone depreciating against several major currencies during the year, which added NOK127bn, NBIM reported.The net contribution into the oil fund from the government comes after 2018’s inflow, which followed a two-year period when for the first time the government was making net annual withdrawals from the fund.Of the GPFG’s three main asset classes, equities returned 26% last year, unlisted real estate investments produced 6.8% and fixed income investments generated 7.6%.The fund beat its benchmark by 0.23 percentage points, the Oslo-headquartered manager reported, saying stock picking had been the biggest single contributor to this outperformance.The executive board said in the annual report that of the three main categories of investment strategies the fund used, fund allocation had contributed negatively to the relative return, while security selection and asset management both contributed positively.“The single largest contribution to the relative return in 2019 came from internal security selection in equity management,” the board said.In terms of the three asset classes, the board said real estate management had made a negative contribution to the relative return, while both equity and fixed income management had made positive contributions in 2019. Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive officer at NBIMNBIM’s allocation to equities surged during the year to 70.8% from 66.3% at the end of 2018, while bonds declined to 26.5% of the GPFG from 30.7%. Unlisted real estate dipped to account for 2.7% of the fund from 3% in 2018.This level of equities exposure brings the sovereign wealth fund up to the strategic allocation to equities in its benchmark index of 70%, which was set in 2017.The fund boosted its equity investments particularly in the last two months of 2018 when stock markets around the world were falling, NBIM revealed a year ago.The oil fund’s holdings of technology giants ballooned in 2019, the annual report showed, with the top two increasing their size lead over the fund’s other top 10 equity investments.Investments in Apple jumped to NOK125bn at the end of last year including both equities and bonds, up from NOK70bn a year before, while holdings in Microsoft equities and debt rose to NOK106.9bn from NOK67bn.These holdings were much larger than the fund’s third biggest corporate exposure of NOK78.4bn to Alphabet, whereas in 2018 the gap between the second and the third on the list had been much narrower at around NOK4bn.