Tuesday, 24 July 2012
After air, the next most vital thing for our survival is water. While at the moment we have enough water for our needs, a time is likely to come when our water supply runs out and we have to buy water at a price similar to fuel. The solution, which some people have implemented, is to save and store rainwater
Monday, 23 July 2012
New biofuel process generates energy 20 times higher than existing methods, and uses agricultural waste:
A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods. The results, published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology, showcase a novel way to use microbes to produce bio fuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes.
Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist, has developed bioelectrochemical systems known as microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs, using bacteria to breakdown and ferment agricultural waste into ethanol. Reguera's platform is unique because it employs a second bacterium, which, when added to the mix, removes all the waste fermentation byproducts or non-ethanol materials while generating electricity.
Similar microbial fuel cells have been investigated before. However, maximum energy recoveries from corn stover, a common feedstock for biofuels, hover around 3.5 percent. Reguera's platform, despite the energy invested in chemical pretreatment of the corn stover, averaged 35 to 40 percent energy recovery just from the fermentation process, said Reguera, who co-authored the paper with Allison Spears.
"This is because the fermentative bacterium was carefully selected to degrade and ferment agricultural wastes into ethanol efficiently and to produce byproducts that could be metabolized by the electricity-producing bacterium," Reguera said. "By removing the waste products of fermentation, the growth and metabolism of the fermentative bacterium also was stimulated. Basically, each step we take is custom-designed to be optimal."
The second bacterium, Geobacter sulfurreducens, generates electricity. The electricity, however, isn't harvested as an output. It is used to generate hydrogen in the MEC to increase the energy recovery process even more, Reguera said.
"When the MEC generates hydrogen, it actually doubles the energy recoveries," she said. "We increased energy recovery to 73 percent. So the potential is definitely there to make this platform attractive for processing agricultural wastes."
Reguera's fuel cells use corn stover treated by the ammonia fiber expansion process, an advanced pretreatment technology pioneered at MSU. AFEX is an already proven method that was developed by Bruce Dale, MSU professor of chemical engineering and materials science. Dale is currently working to make AFEX viable on a commercial scale.
In a similar vein, Reguera is continuing to optimise her MECs so they, too, can be scaled up on a commercial basis. Her goal is to develop decentralised systems that can help process agricultural wastes. Decentralised systems could be customised at small to medium scales (such as compost bins and small silages, for example) to provide an attractive method to recycle the wastes while generating fuel for farms.
Worldwide, the market for biofuel production is expected to reach $100 billion by 2018, compared to $35 billion just a decade earlier.
Saturday, 21 July 2012
Friday, 20 July 2012
Thursday, 19 July 2012
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
The U.S. humanitarian assistance organization provides this infographic to illustrate the need for increased food production by emphasizing the boom in the global population. The planet now supports 7 billion people, and USAID estimates food production must increase 70% by 2050 to meet the growing need.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
The future of our world depends on addressing global challenges now. We need to create sustainable livelihoods, feed a growing population and safeguard the environment. We need to make the global economy green.
Monday, 16 July 2012
A new meta-analysis suggests farmers should take a hybrid approach to producing enough food for humans while preserving the environment.
Agriculture has supplanted 70 percent of grasslands, 50 percent of savannas and 45 percent of temperate forests as a result of global climate changes. Modern commercial farming is also the leading cause of deforestation in the tropics and one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to the ongoing maul of species known as the “sixth extinction,” and a perennial source of nonrenewable groundwater mining and water pollution.
To restrain the environmental impact of agriculture as well as produce more wholesome foods, some farmers have turned to so-called organic techniques. This type of farming is meant to minimize environmental and human health impacts by avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides and hormones or antibiotic treatments for livestock, among other tactics. But the use of industrial technologies, particularly synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, has fed the swelling human population during the last century. Can organic agriculture feed a world of nine billion people?
Environmental scientists at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Minnesota performed an analysis of 66 studies comparing conventional and organic methods across 34 different crop species. They found that, overall, organic yields are considerably lower than conventional yields but, this yield difference varies across different conditions. When farmers apply best management practices, organic systems, for example, perform relatively better.
In particular, organic agriculture delivers just 5 percent less yield in rain-watered legume crops, such as alfalfa or beans, and in perennial crops, such as fruit trees. But when it comes to major cereal crops, such as corn or wheat, and vegetables, such as broccoli, conventional methods delivered more than 25 percent more yield. But that is quantity, not quality.
The key limit to further yield increases via organic methods appears to be nitrogen – large doses of synthetic fertilizer can keep up with high demand from crops during the growing season better than the slow release from compost, manure or nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Of course, the cost of using 171 million metric tons of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is paid in dead zones at the mouths of many of the world’s rivers. These anoxic zones result from nitrogen-rich runoff promoting algal blooms that then die and, in decomposing, suck all the oxygen out of surrounding waters.
To address the problem of nitrogen limitation and to produce high yields, organic farmers should use best management practices, supply more organic fertilizers or grow legumes or perennial crops.
In fact, more knowledge would be key to any effort to boost organic farming or its yields. Conventional farming requires knowledge of how to manage what farmers know as inputs – synthetic fertilizer, chemical pesticides and the like – as well as fields laid out precisely via global-positioning systems. Organic farmers, on the other hand, must learn to manage an entire ecosystem geared to producing food – controlling pests through biological means, using the waste from animals to fertilize fields and even growing one crop amidst another.
Organic farming is a very knowledge-intensive farming system. An organic farmer “needs to create a fertile soil that provides sufficient nutrients at the right time when the crops need them.
Source: Scientific American
Featured image credit: Chillymanjaro
Sunday, 15 July 2012
The higher cost of producing hybrid rice is offset by the higher yields and income the farmers get, according to Dr. Frisco Malabanan, director of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“The use of hybrid seeds has tremendously increased our palay production by 1.47 metric tons (MT) per hectare, with per hectare yields hitting 6.01 MT against the 4.5 MT average produced by farmers using the inbred rice variety,” he said.
The DA official said the hybrid rice varieties have recorded a yield advantage of 33 percent more than those on inbred certified seeds. The yield advantage, he said, contributed to a sustained increase in the national palay production of the country.
He said in many provinces in the country, especially in Nueva Ecija, more and more farmers are now planting high-yielding hybrid rice seed variety and using the latest farming technology.
Henry Lim, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of SL Agritech Corp., the country’s top producer of hybrid rice seeds, said “hamak laki na ng inaani ngayon ng mga farmers sa Nueva Ecija na nagtatanim ng hybrid seed variety than before when they were planting the traditional or inbred rice variety and were not working as a group.”
He said the Bagong Buhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BBMPC) in Barangay Mabini in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija, a cluster of 200 hectares, is one example where working together as a group or common sharing of resources, will have tremendous effect to increase production.
BBMPC has been named by the Department of Agriculture as a “model hybrid rice cluster” as its farmer-members have been posting an average harvest of 180 cavans or 10.09 metric tons (MY) per hectare using the SL-8H hybrid rice variety.
Lim at the same time commended the members of the BBMPC who, he said, “are receptive in adopting modern farm technologies and practices.”
He said that while “we are all aware of the important role played by technology in our massive food production efforts, there is the apparent need for all of us to keep abreast with the various technological approaches and to continuously be in search of new and better systems towards increase productivity.”
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Let us retrospect our lives!
Many of us are born in villages and towns blessed with perfect nature. We had the healthy food satisfy our appetite and fresh air to fill our lungs. Our childhood memories are filled with the green pastures and the mango orchids.
But, we had to move out of that beautiful place in the search of a colorful career. Many of us have been successful in achieving the dream, but still there is a vacuum in life that is never spoken. The quality of our food has deteriorated; the prices of the food are shooting up the roof; the polluted environment that we live in is creating health issues and our relationship with mother earth is disturbed. Have you ever ponder over this?
The Real Estate boom has helped the common man to realize his dream of a home in the city. But it has also spun off many problems. The decreasing agricultural land has shot up the commodity prices. The increasing land prices have forced many of the aspiring house owners are buying lands where they can build home. This land however, is a dead investment. So, is there is a solution to this vicious circle? We guess there is one!
Natural Harvest Project:
Combining realty with agriculture, Natural Harvest Project at Kondurg is the first of its kind in the country. The project marries development with the sustainability & food security. Spread over 150 acres of land, the sheer magnanimity of the project would explain the commitment of Perigreen in creating an eco-friendly agri-pocket.
The project aims to promote farming and benefit the landowner. Since, the methods of cultivation undertaken are green and scientific; the quality is high without an effect on the productivity.
You can also visit the place any weekend of the year with your family to enjoy the natural picturesque presented to you by the Perigreen team.
Since, the company believes in making everyone a part of this project and dispel the myth that ‘green practices are costly’. The plot sizes and their corresponding rates are here as following:
More information will come here
The availability of the plots of choice might change because of other bookings. You may have a look at the available plots by clicking Here
The availability of the plots of choice might change because of other bookings. You may have a look at the available plots by clicking Here
Located at 70 kms away from Hyderabad, the project is located closer to Shamshabad Airport in the pockets with a great prospective growth. You can have a look at the location of the project from Hyderabad on the map provided. (Please follow the violet line)
Thursday, 12 July 2012
In the first half of this century, as the world’s population grows to around 9 billion, global demand for food, feed and fiber will nearly double while, increasingly, crops may also be used for bio-energy and other industrial purposes. New and traditional demand for agricultural produce will thus put growing pressure on already scarce agricultural resources. And while agriculture will be forced to compete for land and water with sprawling urban settlements, it will also be required to serve on other major fronts: adapting to and contributing to the mitigation of climate change, helping preserve natural habitats, protecting endangered species and maintaining a high level of biodiversity. As though this were not challenging enough, in most regions fewer people will be living in rural areas and even fewer will be farmers. They will need new technologies to grow more from less land, with fewer hands.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Monday, 9 July 2012
Labels: Agriculture, Climate Change, Farm Fresh, Farming, Food, food food aid development, Food Security, Food Waste, Natural Harvest, Organic Farming, Organic Food, Perigreen, Sustainable Agriculture, Vegetables
Sunday, 8 July 2012
Sustainability over the long term. Many changes observed in the environment are long term, occurring slowly over time. Organic agriculture considers the medium- and long-term effect of agricultural interventions on the agro-ecosystem. It aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil fertility or pest problems. Organic agriculture takes a proactive approach as opposed to treating problems after they emerge.
Soil. Soil building practices such as crop rotations, inter-cropping, symbiotic associations, cover crops, organic fertilizers and minimum tillage are central to organic practices. These encourage soil fauna and flora, improving soil formation and structure and creating more stable systems. In turn, nutrient and energy cycling is increased and the retentive abilities of the soil for nutrients and water are enhanced, compensating for the non-use of mineral fertilizers. Such management techniques also play an important role in soil erosion control. The length of time that the soil is exposed to erosive forces is decreased, soil biodiversity is increased, and nutrient losses are reduced, helping to maintain and enhance soil productivity. Crop export of nutrients is usually compensated by farm-derived renewable resources but it is sometimes necessary to supplement organic soils with potassium, phosphate, calcium, magnesium and trace elements from external sources.
Water. In many agriculture areas, pollution of groundwater courses with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major problem. As the use of these is prohibited in organic agriculture, they are replaced by organic fertilizers (e.g. compost, animal manure, green manure) and through the use of greater biodiversity (in terms of species cultivated and permanent vegetation), enhancing soil structure and water infiltration. Well managed organic systems with better nutrient retentive abilities, greatly reduce the risk of groundwater pollution. In some areas where pollution is a real problem, conversion to organic agriculture is highly encouraged as a restorative measure (e.g. by the Governments of France and Germany).
Air and climate change. Organic agriculture reduces non-renewable energy use by decreasing agrochemical needs (these require high quantities of fossil fuel to be produced). Organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil. Many management practices used by organic agriculture (e.g. minimum tillage, returning crop residues to the soil, the use of cover crops and rotations, and the greater integration of nitrogen-fixing legumes), increase the return of carbon to the soil, raising productivity and favouring carbon storage. A number of studies revealed that soil organic carbon contents under organic farming are considerably higher. The more organic carbon is retained in the soil, the more the mitigation potential of agriculture against climate change is higher. However, there is much research needed in this field, yet. There is a lack of data on soil organic carbon for developing countries, with no farm system comparison data from Africa and Latin America, and only limited data on soil organic carbon stocks, which is crucial for determining carbon sequestration rates for farming practices.
Biodiversity. Organic farmers are both custodians and users of biodiversity at all levels. At the gene level, traditional and adapted seeds and breeds are preferred for their greater resistance to diseases and their resilience to climatic stress. At the species level, diverse combinations of plants and animals optimize nutrient and energy cycling for agricultural production. At the ecosystem level, the maintenance of natural areas within and around organic fields and absence of chemical inputs create suitable habitats for wildlife. The frequent use of under-utilized species (often as rotation crops to build soil fertility) reduces erosion of agro-biodiversity, creating a healthier gene pool - the basis for future adaptation. The provision of structures providing food and shelter, and the lack of pesticide use, attract new or re-colonizing species to the organic area (both permanent and migratory), including wild flora and fauna (e.g. birds) and organisms beneficial to the organic system such as pollinators and pest predators. The number of studies on organic farming and biodiversity increased significantly within the last years. A recent study reporting on a meta-analysis of 766 scientific papers concluded that organic farming produces more biodiversity than other farming systems.
Genetically modified organisms. The use of GMOs within organic systems is not permitted during any stage of organic food production, processing or handling. As the potential impact of GMOs to both the environment and health is not entirely understood, organic agriculture is taking the precautionary approach and choosing to encourage natural biodiversity. The organic label therefore provides an assurance that GMOs have not been used intentionally in the production and processing of the organic products. This is something which cannot be guaranteed in conventional products as labelling the presence of GMOs in food products has not yet come into force in most countries. However, with increasing GMO use in conventional agriculture and due to the method of transmission of GMOs in the environment (e.g. through pollen), organic agriculture will not be able to ensure that organic products are completely GMO free in the future. A detailed discussion on GMOs can be found in the FAO publication "Genetically Modified Organisms, Consumers, Food Safety and the Environment".
Ecological services. The impact of organic agriculture on natural resources favours interactions within the agro-ecosystem that are vital for both agricultural production and nature conservation. Ecological services derived include soil forming and conditioning, soil stabilization, waste recycling, carbon sequestration, nutrients cycling, predation, pollination and habitats. By opting for organic products, the consumer through his/her purchasing power promotes a less polluting agricultural system. The hidden costs of agriculture to the environment in terms of natural resource degradation are reduced.
Friday, 6 July 2012
For decades our food and water have been contaminated by powerful, harmful pesticides which have been promoted as necessary for better agricultural output. But the reality is that we don't need pesticides for better yield, and their use is not only deadly for health but results in expensive farming methods.
The solution is to adopt organic farming, which is possible and profitable, as the state of Sikkim has shown.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Pesticides accumulate in the fat deposits in the body where they remain and cause damage. Infants and young children consuming breast milk ingest pesticides. Pregnant women can pass pesticides on to their fetus. Women who eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides, pass the pesticides on to their nursing children. Women who eat meat that has been injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, pass these chemicals on to their nursing children. Children eating foods that have been treated with hormones, antibiotics or pesticides, have them in their bodies.
‘A study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and published in the September 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives shows eating organic foods provides children with “dramatic and immediate” protection from exposure to two organophosphate pesticides that have been linked to harmful neurological effects in humans.
The pesticides—malathion and chlorpyrifos—while restricted or banned for home use, are widely used on a variety of crops, and according to the annual survey by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program, residues of these organophosphate pesticides are still routinely detected in food items commonly consumed by young children.
Over a fifteen-day period, Dr. Chensheng “Alex” Lu and his colleagues from Emory University, the University of Washington, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measured exposure to malathion and chlorpyrifos in 23 elementary students in the Seattle area by testing their urine.
The participants, aged 3-11-years-old, were first monitored for three days on their conventional diets before the researchers substituted most of the children’s conventional diets with organic foods for five consecutive days. The children were then given their normal foods and monitored for an additional seven days.
“Immediately after substituting organic food items for the children’s normal diets, the concentration of the organophosphorus pesticides found in their bodies decreased substantially to non-detectable levels until the conventional diets were re-introduced,” said Dr. Lu.
During the days when children consumed organic diets, most of their urine samples contained zero concentration of the malathion metabolite. However, once the children returned to their conventional diets, the average malathion metabolite concentration increased to 1.6 parts per billion with a concentration range from 5 to 263 parts per billion. A similar trend was seen for chlorpyrifos. The average chlorpyrifos metabolite concentration increased from one part per billion during the organic diet days to six parts per billion when children consumed conventional food.
A second study, published in the February 2006 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, confirmed these results. Once again, another group of 23 children from the Seattle area aged 3-11 years participated. When the conventionally grown foods in their diets were replaced with comparable organically grown foods, concentrations of compounds in the children’s urine indicating exposure to organophosphate pesticides immediately dropped to non-detectable levels and remained non-detectable until they once again consumed conventionally grown foods.
The children were first monitored for three days on their normal diet. Then, most of the conventionally grown items in their diets were replaced with comparable organically grown items for 5 days. Substituted items included fruits and vegetables, juices, processed fruit and vegetable products and wheat or corn based products. Lastly, the children returned to their normal diets for a further 7 days.
Researchers analyzed two spot daily urine samples, first-morning and before-bedtime voids, throughout the 15-day study period. Urinary concentrations of compounds indicating the children were ingesting the organophosphorus pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, became undetectable immediately after the introduction of organic diets and remained undetectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced.’ Emory University Health Sciences Center
The repetition of this research clearly demonstrates that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides, which are commonly used in agricultural production. Organophosphate pesticides account for approximately half the insecticide use in the U.S. and are applied to many conventionally grown foods important in children’s diets.
Organophosphates work by poisoning the nervous system in pests.
Pesticides effects on humans are damage to the nervous system, reproductive system and other organs, developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function as well as immune dysfunction.