Farm Can Grow Vegetables In Freezing Temperatures

As a trend, home gardening is explosive. TerraFarms are a space-efficient choice that use no pesticides and 97% less water. The Ogarden system is completely hassle-free and can grow up to 100 herbs and vegetables a month. However, home gardening isn’t practical everywhere — especially in colder countries. Engineers at the German Aerospace Center are now helping snowed-in communities garden, with an Antarctic farm that can grow veggies below zero.

Called the Eden-ISS, the farm exists inside a climate-controlled shipping container. The greenhouse relies on  a technique called vertical farming, in which food grows on trays or hanging modules under LEDs instead of natural sunlight.

The farm is only 135 square feet and can grow vegetables in huge amounts. Amazing, considering the only means of transportation for produce deliveries is by ship or plane. Researchers plan to grow some 30 to 50 different plant species. In short, the new technology is beating the odds.

Over the past 100 years, Arctic temperatures have increased at nearly twice the global average, making it possible to grow crops in once-desolate places like Yellowknife in Canada and Greenland.

On a more impressive note, temperatures in the area can plunge as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t even know it was humanly possible to exist under such conditions. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of innovation.

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Permaculture Farm Is Feeding Families In Australia

At present, some 795 million people don’t get the proper nourishment they need. While the number is staggering, only a few farms and soup kitchens are taking action. This Australian family is playing its part, feeding dozens of families with produce from its 1-acre permaculture farm.

At Limestone Permaculture Farm, they grow organic produce, raise sheep goats and chickens, keep bees, and even build with recycled materials. Much of the farm is powered by energy from wood, water, and the sun.

In essence, permaculture pays homage to natural ecosystems and how they function. Instead of growing a single crop in large-scale, permaculture integrates symbiosis so different plants may flourish. Owners of Limestone, Nici and Brett Cooper, believe that permaculture is the future of food.

“We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands.”

To encourage the unique farming technique, the Coopers offer workshops, internships, and permaculture design programs to tourists. As it seems, permaculture is opening doors for rural communities and, in turn, also helping out the needy.

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Wildflower Strips Act As Natural Pesticides

The detrimental effects of pesticides have many scrambling for alternatives. Be it through pest-sniffing dogs or banning the substance altogether, there has yet to be an affordable and simple solution. With an abundance of arable land in its countrysides, England is taking a different approach. Farms are experimenting with wildflowers, hoping to naturally boost pest predators and alleviate the need for chemical pesticides.

Using wildflower margins to support insects including hoverflies, parasitic wasps and ground beetles has been shown to slash pest numbers in crops and even increase yields.

Harvesters will use GPS technology to monitor their crops throughout full cycles. Where nature may falter, machines step in — primarily to avoid predator outbreaks. We all know plagues are better off immortalized in history books.

“There is undoubtedly scope to reduce pesticide use – that is a given,” said Bill Parker, director of research at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. “There will be probably quite a lot of years when pests are not a problem and pesticide use could be vastly reduced.”

Despite the experiment’s promising nature, the change demands copious amounts of time and effort. Still, many advocating for a much needed cultural shift in agricultural industries are likely to see it through.

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Grow The Home Garden Of Your Dreams

With systems such as Ogarden, growing your own produce is now just as user-friendly as an iPhone. However, for a DIY enthusiast slash gardening newbie, starting up a backyard veggie empire is a bit more challenging. Gadgets aside, sowing your own pantry is not for couch potatoes — but it is highly doable! Here’s the low-down on how to get started on a home garden.

First things first, decide what you’re going to plant. Base your produce plan on your regular diet. If you aren’t big on fries or mash, it may not be practical to grow potatoes. (Then again, who isn’t a fan of fries?) Having a massive variety of sprouts in your backyard may look attractive, but may produce unnecessary waste. Keep in mind what grows easiest — usually, those are baby greens.

While some may have the luxury of a yard, apartment tenants aren’t quite as lucky. But, as any minimalist would say, there are always ways. If you live in a confined space, start a container garden. Herbs, as well as crops like cherry tomatoes, grow seamlessly in pots. Of course, you also want to purchase the right materials. One pot doesn’t fit all.

On that note, pick out the right pots for specific foods. Herb pots are often a foot in diameter, while other crops demand a flux of dimensions. Choose your soil thoughtfully. Figure out what will nurture your home garden best — you’ll only have to switch out your potting soil once a year. Still, don’t be afraid to experiment with soils that are denser, more nutritious, absorbent, and what have you.

Know how much sun and water your pots need. Growing a plant (and much less, a crop) isn’t all about maximizing sunlight. Seventh-grade biology may have us believing that growing greens is all about sun. Well, it is (somewhat), but in regulation. No one wants to nibble on dried out lettuce! You don’t want to drown your seedlings either.

Grown sprouts are quite the sight, and achieving a healthy product kind of makes you feel like a proud parent. While the thought of snapping off a pristine strawberry may be a little sickening, it’s best to harvest your fruits and veggies regularly. This promotes new growth. After all, why grow anything delicious if its destiny isn’t to end up in your stomach?

Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, hype your garden up a bit. Experiment with unique varieties. Try growing something you wouldn’t normally find in a makeshift garden, like kale. If anything, you’ll have new ingredients for daring salads and shakes. Master growing vertical. This may take a lot of time and patience, but you’ll learn how to make the most of certain crops. If you’re a go-getter, you can even get creative with your aesthetics.

A home garden may seem unnecessary, especially when you live across a fresh market. But learning the ropes isn’t such a bad thing. Anyway, with climate change on the rise, you never know when it might come in handy!

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Saltwater Grown Rice Can Feed Millions

Thanks to over-harvesting, over-fishing, and overdoing pretty much everything, alternative food sources are all the rage. In the near future, the dory in your fish taco could be lab-grown. Your oatmeal may even be 100% renewable. And, if Chinese scientists prove it a success, rice will flourish in saltwater and create enough food for 200 million people.

The rice was grown in a field near the Yellow Sea coastal city of Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong province. 200 different types of the grain were planted to investigate which would grow best in salty conditions.

Per hectare, scientists predicted an output of 4.5 tons. Much to their surprise, and because nature is cooler than we think, the yield hit 9.3 tons. With 1 million square kilometers of previously unused high-saline land now on the market, rice production could rise by 20%.

“If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, they most likely will get 1,500 kilograms per hectare. That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort.” [says team leader Yuan Longping.]

A kilogram of the stuff goes for around $8, a whopping eight times more costly than regular rice. Still, some six tons have already made their way into kitchens. Beyond everything, the price is rice!

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U.K. Passes Ban On Pesticides For Bees

As a vital part of the food chain, bees deserve more attention than they are currently receiving. Though devices such as the BuzzBox are making beekeeping more efficient, they aren’t addressing the steep decline in bee populations. Stepping up to the plate, the U.K. is finally supporting a total ban on bee-harming pesticides.

“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100 billion food industry, is greater than previously understood.

“I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” [said environment secretary Michael Gove.]

The monetary value of pollinating insects in the U.K. has shot up to nearly £680 million per annum. At that price point, it’s difficult to believe that bees are simply an expendable asset in nature. In the long run, pesticides aren’t only a threat to wildlife, but to crop consumers altogether.

“We need to encourage farmers to move away from reliance on pesticides as the solution to the many problems that industrial monoculture cropping create.”

Looks like permaculture farming may be the way to go.

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Billionaires Are Sponsoring Lab-Grown Meat

Lab-grown seafood may be actively solving over-harvesting, but it lacks any noteworthy benefactors. On the flip side, billionaires like Bill Gates and Richard Branson are sponsoring lab-grown meat by Memphis Meats. So what’s the beef?

“Instead of using animals as pieces of technology to convert plants into proteins to make things that we like to eat, drink and wear, we can just use biology to make those things directly,” said… an early investor in Memphis Meats.

Developers envision facilities that are more reminiscent to breweries than slaughterhouses. Admittedly, the former is less unsettling. But how will Memphis Meats grow tasty steaks and chops without the direct use of an animal?

The company’s scientists identify cells that they want to scale up production on — selecting them based on the recommendations of experts. Those cells are cultivated with a blend of sugar, amino acids, fats and water, and within three to six weeks the meat is harvested.

Production is quick but still small-scale. However, with further development, the process could cut greenhouse emissions, save water, and create a more sustainable agriculture industry. From its patrons, Memphis Meats has raised a charming $22 million. I sure hope the filet mignon is worth it.

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Virtual Planting Helps Farmers Boost Crops

Home gardening systems have been allowing households access to produce without having to make trips to the local market. While they are convenient, they also cost a pretty penny. Because of this, we still rely on large-scale farmers to provide us with some healthy-looking pantries. For ultimate efficiency, farmers are practicing virtual planting to help boost crops.

Digital plants… are part of a new movement in agricultural science called “in silico,” where researchers design highly accurate, computer-simulated crops to help speed up selective breeding, in which plants are chosen and replanted to amplify their desirable traits.

With a constantly skyrocketing population, it seems manual farming techniques are just not going to cut it anymore. Determining the factors that yield the quickest-growing, most drought-resistant, pest-dominating plants? Sitting in front of a computer screen has never made more sense.

 The technique begins with scientists collecting data about plant behavior under microscopes and in the field. Next they build statistical models… then create simulations based on those equations, which allows them to see the traits they measured play out on a screen.

Already, the technique has seen success with Brazilian sugarcane fields. In constantly improving the technology, what is normally achieved in a day could soon be achieved in a minute.

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Tree-Planting Drones Are At Work In Myanmar

The humble drone — a handy tool for both aspiring and professional filmmakers and now a staple in medical emergencies. Inhabitants of Irrawaddy River are also fans, as tree-planting drones are restoring their forests thousands of seeds at a time.

The drones, from the startup BioCarbon Engineering, can plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day, leaving the local community to focus on taking care of the young trees that have already started to grow.

Mapping drones first gather data on an area’s topography and soil quality. A second set of drones then follow the custom map, planting seeds in pods. Machines can plant up to 100,000 seeds a day.

In Myanmar (also known as Burma) the technology will be tweaked to best handle local conditions. Mangrove trees grow in brackish water along coastlines, so the drones will have to successfully shoot the seed pods underwater.

Mangroves protect Myanmar coastlines from storms and provide fish with habitats to grow. Combining the trees with crops could also help locals by means of an income.

The project is a prime example of the positive collaboration between humans and technology. If you were in over your head about robots taking our place in the workforce, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.

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Farm Grows Food Exclusively For Soup Kitchens

With a rise in pay-what-you-can restaurants, the food industry is doing what it can do give back to the needy. Some places rely on apps to direct excess food to banks. Others, such as this New York farmer, grow food on farms exclusively for donation to soup kitchens.

The 40-acre farm donates all of its organic produce – and eggs and meat from grass-fed animals – to food pantries and banks throughout the state.

The farm, which is also praised for its smart architecture, hopes to ensure food security.

Out of the 40 acres, 25 are used for animal pasture, and two are dedicated to vegetable production. The farm is currently in its fifth season and estimates they’ve been able to donate over 36,000 healthy, organic meals – emphasizing quality of food as much as quantity.

The farm has donated more than 10 tons of meat across the state, an impressive and heartwarming feat. Perhaps what the world needs is not more food but more industries willing to share produce with communities that need it most.

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