Agriculture

Using Tomatoes for Power
March 16, 2016 07:13 AM - American Chemical Society via EurekAlert!

A team of scientists is exploring an unusual source of electricity -- damaged tomatoes that are unsuitable for sale at the grocery store. Their pilot project involves a biological-based fuel cell that uses tomato waste left over from harvests in Florida.

The Florida jail that is also an animal shelter
March 14, 2016 04:42 AM - Natalia Lima, Care2

Usually the word “jail” brings some harsh imagery to mind: barbed wire fences, orange jumpsuits and tall concrete walls. That’s not the case in the Key West, though. Ask a local about the jail, and the most likely image is Mo, an adorable and charismatic sloth who’s become the unofficial mascot of the Stock Island Detention Center, which doubles as a sanctuary for unwanted animals.

“All the animals here are either abandoned, abused, confiscated or donated,” Jeanne Selander, the caretaker for the facility, explains to Care2. “The animals are here because they need a forever home and we give them one.”

'Ugly' fruits and vegetables will get a chance to be sold
March 11, 2016 07:09 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Depending on the source, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of produce in America ends up wasted. One reason why so many fruit and vegetables are thrown out is because they do not conform to what retailers and consumers believe fresh food should look like. Tomatoes too wide for a hamburger bun, carrots that look like something out of an anatomy textbook, and cucumbers that dare to be curved almost never make the shelves at grocery chains from Walmart to Whole Foods. But Whole Foods, the supermarket that has arguably made organic and socially-conscious foods mainstream, announced that it will start selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables.

Study suggests impact of climate change on agriculture may be underestimated
March 8, 2016 07:10 AM - Brown University

Studies of how climate change might affect agriculture generally look only at crop yields — the amount of product harvested from a given unit of land. But climate change may also influence how much land people choose to farm and the number of crops they plant each growing season. A new study takes all of these variables into account, and suggests researchers may be underestimating the total effect of climate change on the world’s food supply.

Scientists fight deadly banana fungus
February 29, 2016 07:11 AM - Editors, SciDev.Net

Around the world, banana farmers are fighting a losing battle against Tropical Race 4, a soil fungus that kills Cavendish bananas, the only type grown for the international market. The disease was first spotted in the early 1990s in Malaysia, but has now started to wipe out crops in large parts of South-East Asia as well as in Africa and the Middle East.

What happened to the Red Delicious apple
February 24, 2016 08:29 AM - Dr. Mercola , Organic Consumers Association

If you’re like most people, when looking for apples among the plethora of offerings at your local supermarket, perhaps you choose the most visually appealing.

You may have noticed that in comparison with varieties that may be smaller, slightly mottled or have a brown spot or two, the Red Delicious easily wins the blue ribbon for best looking.

Your first bite, however, might remind you that apples are one more thing you can’t judge by first appearances. The gorgeous apple that for 70 years was everybody’s first choice for lunchboxes and teachers’ desks has literally fallen by the wayside.

The impacts of a warming climate on Russian agriculture
February 22, 2016 08:01 AM - Corey Flintoff, NPR

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad.

That's what many people are saying these days in Russia, where the expected icy winter has failed to materialize this year – to widespread joy. Of course, any climate scientist will tell you that an unusually warm month — or even a whole warm winter — doesn't mean much. It's the long-term trend that counts.

Warming climate is bad news for western US aquifers
February 19, 2016 06:39 AM - University of Arizona via ScienceDaily.

By 2050 climate change will increase the groundwater deficit even more for four economically important aquifers in the western U.S., reports a University of Arizona-led team of scientists.

The new report is the first to integrate scientists' knowledge about groundwater in the U.S. West with scientific models that show how climate change will affect the region.

Smart water management could help produce much more food
February 16, 2016 08:17 AM - IOP Publishing via ScienceDaily

Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated. Investing in crop water management could substantially reduce hunger while at the same time making up for population growth. However, putting the findings into practice would require specific local solutions, which remains a challenge.

Disease may wipe out the world's bananas
February 8, 2016 07:11 AM - Angelina Sanderson Bellamy, Cardiff University, The Ecologist

Bananas are at the sharp end of industrial agriculture's chemical war on pests and pathogens, writes Angelina Sanderson Bellamy. But even 60 pesticide sprays a year isn't enough to keep the diseases at bay. It's time to seek new solutions with little or no use of chemicals, working with nature, growing diverse crops on the same land - and breaking the dominance of the banana multinationals.

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