Agri & Gardening

About: <p>Growing food, either commercially or as a hobby is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It is however not without challenges. Protection against natural or man-made threats, irrigation or other treatments of the soil has to be done with care.</p> <p>Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fibre and many other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants. The practice of agriculture is also known as &lsquo;farming&rsquo;, while scientists, inventors and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are also said to be engaged in agriculture.<br />Subsistence farming; who farms a small area with limited resource inputs, and produces only enough food to meet the needs of his/her family. At the other end is commercial intensive agriculture, including industrial agriculture. Such farming involves large fields, large resource inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.), and a high level of mechanization.</p> <p>Nowadays, critical attention is given to industrial agriculture. Alternatives are proposed such as regenerative agriculture, the use of drones, <a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/agri-gardening/smart-agriculture-will-be-data--ai--driven-agriculture">smart techniques</a> and blockchain. The use of fertilizer and water in large quantities is also criticized. The risks of monocultures are large and in combination with the depletion of agricultural land, the reduction of insects and <a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate">climate change</a>, it is necessary to change our view on industrial agriculture and growing crops.</p> <p>If there was an urge to come up with a sustainable way of agriculture and gardening solutions and share these topics globally it&rsquo;s now! WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-change Platform is for you, storytellers and influencers to write about tiny houses, your experiences and expectations for the future at home and globally.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Global Sustainability X-change, that&rsquo;s what you can do together with WhatsOrb.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/blog/your-shared-sustainable-ideas-make-our-earth-a-better-place">What's in for me?</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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Does Rising CO2 Benefit Plants?
Although the title of this article might sound like something taken straight from a weird conspiracy theory, it is actually a real debate that is going on right now. The main takeaway? The effect that climate change will have on plant life in general could possibly be more positive than negative. Meaning, there are voices claiming that the positive effects of climate change on plants in general may end up outweighing the negative sides but there is doubt if it is about agricultural plants. Rising CO2 And Climate Change This idea of rising CO2 levels actually being good for plants is not that revolutionary, even though it might result in some raised eyebrows. It is not a very popular opinion to proclaim that climate change might actually be a good thing, Climate change sceptics are eager to point at the reasons why we should not cut our emissions. These range from an all-out denial of the urgency of the problem to actually claiming that there are benefits of climate change. How does CO2 increase plant growth? Plants extract CO2 from the atmosphere via the plant's stomates, which are the pores that plants ‘breathe’ through. Photosynthesis begins as the plant uses CO2 in combination with light bulbs or light from the sun to produce both sugar and oxygen. As such, it has been asserted that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will aid the process of photosynthesis, eventually adding to increased growth of plants. In turn, this could lead to higher food production and better quality food - or so proponents of this theory claim. Recommended:  Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy CO2 Fertilization Effect Let’s first find out whether there is an element of truth in this. At the surface, it does indeed seem to hold true. There is something called the CO2 fertilization effect, and it is commonly accepted as a real phenomenon. If you increase the amount of CO2 that plants are exposed to, the process of photosynthesis is increased. Or, at least, this is what happens in a lab setting.   Why CO2 is necessary for photosynthesis? Carbon dioxide is needed for photosynthesis. The lower part of the leaf has loose-fitting cells, to allow carbon dioxide to reach the other cells in the leaf. This also allows the oxygen produced in photosynthesis to leave the leaf easily. Carbon dioxide is present in the air we breathe, at very low concentrations. The issue is that this effect has not yet been consistently documented in the ‘real’ world, where other factors are at play. Plant growth is a notoriously complex process, influenced by a lot of elements besides CO2. Take nitrogen, for instance, that has the potential to offset the positive influence of this CO2 increase if it happens to be only available in limited supply. A series of trials on this CO2 fertilization effect has found that, when testing on outdoor forest areas, an artificial doubling of CO2 levels when compared to pre-industrial levels led to an increased productivity of the trees of about 23 percent. Yet in a confirmation of the nitrogen hypothesis, a limitation of nitrogen has led to a significant diminishing of this effect. Or, as one of the scientists involved put it, “ we cannot assume the CO2 fertilization effect will persist indefinitely .” {youtube}                                                                         Does Rising CO2 Benefit Plants?                                                                  Is Our Food Becoming Less Nutritious? This brings us to an important point, being that the effect will not last forever. Rather, there is a certain cap to the productivity boost it may generate, a long-term outlook that many sceptics ignore. In a similar manner, they ignore the fact that the negative consequences of climate change are sizeable. These include drought and heat stress, which will put a great strain on plant life - one that is likely to offset the benefits. So although the CO2 fertilization effect may be real, one should not overlook the long-term effect and the fact that there are many, many downsides to global warming as well. Rising CO2 Levels Effects On Agricultural Plants One specific implication of the fertilization effect is that it may, ultimately, lead to higher food production and a better quality of food. In order to test this statement, scientists have studied the effect of rising CO2 levels on agricultural plants. Once again, the fertilization effect has held up: most crops will benefit from having this extra material in the atmosphere, that will help them grow. This holds true for most of the crops that are a part of our diet, including wheat, rice and soybeans.   The limitation as imposed by diminishing nitrogen levels is largely irrelevant for agricultural plants, as fertilizer can take over the role of nitrogen and other nutrients if needed. This does, however, not mean that the effect will last indefinitely. Although these plants benefit from rising CO2 levels, they will quickly be saturated - leading to fewer and fewer benefits for the extra CO2 added.   So, this means that one of the two main caveats of the fertilization effect also holds true in agriculture: the long-term outlook is not nearly as rosy. As for the other caveat, with the drawbacks of global warming outweighing the positive sides, it is not hard to see how this would be applicable for agricultural plants as well, with shortages of water, extreme heat and weather events, and the increase in weeds and pests having a direct and significant impact on crops. Recommended:  Renewable Energy Turns CO2 Into Fuel For Hydrogen Batteries Rising CO2’s Effect On Crops Could Harm Human Health Another fact that was found is that food grown under higher CO2 levels is less nutritious. So yeah, productivity may rise in the short term, but this will lead to an output of food of lower quality. In particular, food crops will lose valuable iron, zinc and protein - important nutrients in our daily diet. The levels of CO2 that are predicted to hit our atmosphere mid-century would lead to such a loss of those nutrients that it will cause deficiencies in billions of people. The reasons as to why the rising CO2 levels cause this drop in nutritional content are still unknown. Knowing that it is the case should, however, suffice as a warning for those who rely on the fertilization effect in choosing not to combat global warming. The public health threats associated with rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere are dire and not to be underestimated. Sceptics who are happy to use the argument of the fertilization effect should therefore be warned that there is a much larger downside - and that ultimately, rising CO2 levels do not exclusively benefit plants. Before you go! Recommended:  Climate Change Efforts On Reducing CO2 Why Not Recycle It? Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
Although the title of this article might sound like something taken straight from a weird conspiracy theory, it is actually a real debate that is going on right now. The main takeaway? The effect that climate change will have on plant life in general could possibly be more positive than negative. Meaning, there are voices claiming that the positive effects of climate change on plants in general may end up outweighing the negative sides but there is doubt if it is about agricultural plants. Rising CO2 And Climate Change This idea of rising CO2 levels actually being good for plants is not that revolutionary, even though it might result in some raised eyebrows. It is not a very popular opinion to proclaim that climate change might actually be a good thing, Climate change sceptics are eager to point at the reasons why we should not cut our emissions. These range from an all-out denial of the urgency of the problem to actually claiming that there are benefits of climate change. How does CO2 increase plant growth? Plants extract CO2 from the atmosphere via the plant's stomates, which are the pores that plants ‘breathe’ through. Photosynthesis begins as the plant uses CO2 in combination with light bulbs or light from the sun to produce both sugar and oxygen. As such, it has been asserted that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will aid the process of photosynthesis, eventually adding to increased growth of plants. In turn, this could lead to higher food production and better quality food - or so proponents of this theory claim. Recommended:  Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy CO2 Fertilization Effect Let’s first find out whether there is an element of truth in this. At the surface, it does indeed seem to hold true. There is something called the CO2 fertilization effect, and it is commonly accepted as a real phenomenon. If you increase the amount of CO2 that plants are exposed to, the process of photosynthesis is increased. Or, at least, this is what happens in a lab setting.   Why CO2 is necessary for photosynthesis? Carbon dioxide is needed for photosynthesis. The lower part of the leaf has loose-fitting cells, to allow carbon dioxide to reach the other cells in the leaf. This also allows the oxygen produced in photosynthesis to leave the leaf easily. Carbon dioxide is present in the air we breathe, at very low concentrations. The issue is that this effect has not yet been consistently documented in the ‘real’ world, where other factors are at play. Plant growth is a notoriously complex process, influenced by a lot of elements besides CO2. Take nitrogen, for instance, that has the potential to offset the positive influence of this CO2 increase if it happens to be only available in limited supply. A series of trials on this CO2 fertilization effect has found that, when testing on outdoor forest areas, an artificial doubling of CO2 levels when compared to pre-industrial levels led to an increased productivity of the trees of about 23 percent. Yet in a confirmation of the nitrogen hypothesis, a limitation of nitrogen has led to a significant diminishing of this effect. Or, as one of the scientists involved put it, “ we cannot assume the CO2 fertilization effect will persist indefinitely .” {youtube}                                                                         Does Rising CO2 Benefit Plants?                                                                  Is Our Food Becoming Less Nutritious? This brings us to an important point, being that the effect will not last forever. Rather, there is a certain cap to the productivity boost it may generate, a long-term outlook that many sceptics ignore. In a similar manner, they ignore the fact that the negative consequences of climate change are sizeable. These include drought and heat stress, which will put a great strain on plant life - one that is likely to offset the benefits. So although the CO2 fertilization effect may be real, one should not overlook the long-term effect and the fact that there are many, many downsides to global warming as well. Rising CO2 Levels Effects On Agricultural Plants One specific implication of the fertilization effect is that it may, ultimately, lead to higher food production and a better quality of food. In order to test this statement, scientists have studied the effect of rising CO2 levels on agricultural plants. Once again, the fertilization effect has held up: most crops will benefit from having this extra material in the atmosphere, that will help them grow. This holds true for most of the crops that are a part of our diet, including wheat, rice and soybeans.   The limitation as imposed by diminishing nitrogen levels is largely irrelevant for agricultural plants, as fertilizer can take over the role of nitrogen and other nutrients if needed. This does, however, not mean that the effect will last indefinitely. Although these plants benefit from rising CO2 levels, they will quickly be saturated - leading to fewer and fewer benefits for the extra CO2 added.   So, this means that one of the two main caveats of the fertilization effect also holds true in agriculture: the long-term outlook is not nearly as rosy. As for the other caveat, with the drawbacks of global warming outweighing the positive sides, it is not hard to see how this would be applicable for agricultural plants as well, with shortages of water, extreme heat and weather events, and the increase in weeds and pests having a direct and significant impact on crops. Recommended:  Renewable Energy Turns CO2 Into Fuel For Hydrogen Batteries Rising CO2’s Effect On Crops Could Harm Human Health Another fact that was found is that food grown under higher CO2 levels is less nutritious. So yeah, productivity may rise in the short term, but this will lead to an output of food of lower quality. In particular, food crops will lose valuable iron, zinc and protein - important nutrients in our daily diet. The levels of CO2 that are predicted to hit our atmosphere mid-century would lead to such a loss of those nutrients that it will cause deficiencies in billions of people. The reasons as to why the rising CO2 levels cause this drop in nutritional content are still unknown. Knowing that it is the case should, however, suffice as a warning for those who rely on the fertilization effect in choosing not to combat global warming. The public health threats associated with rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere are dire and not to be underestimated. Sceptics who are happy to use the argument of the fertilization effect should therefore be warned that there is a much larger downside - and that ultimately, rising CO2 levels do not exclusively benefit plants. Before you go! Recommended:  Climate Change Efforts On Reducing CO2 Why Not Recycle It? Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
Does Rising CO2 Benefit Plants?
Does Rising CO2 Benefit Plants?
Fog Catchers: Making Water Out Of Air In Africa, Peru, Chile
Water is the most important resource in the world since we need it for almost everything we do; drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning, bathing, growing crops, feeding cattle, and more. Did you know that it takes 10,000 liters of water to make just one pair of jeans, 2,700 liters for a T-shirt, and agriculture alone uses about 70% of the earth's freshwater? Thus, there are 7.5 billion people on earth who share earth’s commodities and by 2050 that number is expected to reach 10 billion. Although 72% of Earth is made up of water, 97% is not suitable for drinking as it is salty ocean water. In some countries, not only do children miss out on getting an education while adults also miss work, but each year 300,000 children under the age of five die due to dirty water. According to the U.N, out of every ten people, at least two do not have a clean source of drinking water, and therefore, millions of them — mostly children — die due to diseases caused by an inadequate supply of sanitized water. Therefore, providing water around the globe to those in need is vital. Fortunately, there is a way to obtain clean water which is already being used in many deprived countries around the world. Sanitized Water Is Being Collected For Use Globally The Atacama Desert in northern Chile that spans to Peru is the driest desert in the world as it has never recorded any rainfall. In fact, it is so dry that mountains elevated at 22,589 ft., are glacier free. Nevertheless, this desert and others alike around the world may soon be reborn as there is a process being used to gather the vapors from fog to produce water. While there may not be water on the ground, there is, however, moist air coming from the dense coastal fog that can be collected and used to supply those in need of a good clean source of water. This process can shed some life on deprived desolate landscapes by making it possible to grow crops in these areas. Scientists of the Alto Patache research Centre of The Universidad Catolica found plants growing in the desert from seeds that had been hidden for many years hydrated by water collected during fog. Some projects, using fog water to transform dry patches of deserts into large scale farmlands, have been performed to verify the validity of growing crops in desolate areas. Today the process is being utilized by local villagers around the globe, using specially designed nets to gather water collected from the vapor in the air. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food Fog Collectors? What Are They? Fog collectors are large nets made of a polypropylene mesh that is hung between two poles to capture the droplets of water from mists in the air that are provided by the fog. When the droplets are collected, they flow through large storage tanks where it's kept for use or shipped by trucks to nearby locations. For example, in places like the Andes, water is being piped through towns from many miles away or delivered by water trucks. The best part about all this is that the water is pure and can be used for agriculture and for drinking. Therefore, we have found a sustainable way to replenish extremely dry areas. Fog Water Has Been Collected for Centuries Collecting fog and dew is nothing new; it is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years. In fact, archaeologists found evidence that low circular walls were built around vines and plants in Israel to collect condensation moisture. Furthermore, in Egypt and the Atacama Desert of South America, stones were arranged in piles for the condensation to trickle down the inside of the walls where it was collected and stored. Deserts and regions that only get less than one millimeter of rain each year can collect water using fog collectors as long as there are light winds and of course, enough fog. Recommended:  Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy Fog Collectors Today? Who is Responsible for Using Them? There are a number of scientists and professors who have been involved with fog water research for many years; climatologist Jana Olivier is an associate professor at the 'University of South Africa' (UNISA) 'School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences'. Olivier worked in collaboration with three researchers at the University of Pretoria- Professor Hannes Rautenbach, Professor Johan van Heerden, and Tinus Truter- on many projects in South Africa where people have always suffered and even died for lacking clean water. The group launched a fog harvesting project in at least 6 water-stressed locations in South Africa and thanks to them, the residents now have clean water to drink, grow food, and make money. In addition, FogQuest is a Canadian non-profit organization that was founded by atmospheric scientist Robert Schemenauer and Sherry Bennett in 2000, after 20 years of working on fog collection. The organization is made up of volunteers and they get their funding from donations, grants, and membership fees. The company makes nets to collect the water from moisture in the air. They have established projects utilizing modern fog collectors to instill reforestation and irrigation in developing countries in many locations around the world including Guatemala, Peru, Eritrea, Ecuador, Oman, South Africa, Nepal, Cape Verde Islands, Israel, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Chile. {youtube}                                                                              Cloud Catchers of Peru                                                Fog Catchers: Making Water Out Of Air In Africa, Peru, Chile How Does the Process Work? Fog comes from a cloud touching the ground. It is made up of mist or tiny droplets of water. According to FogQuest, one cubic meter of fog contains between 0.05 and 0.5 grams of water. Fog collectors are made of a polyethylene or polypropylene mesh and resemble a giant volleyball net that is hung between two large poles. They are extremely effective at capturing droplets of water. When the fog comes through, the tiny water droplets will cling to the mesh and will soon cluster together as more build-up. These water clusters will then drip into the gutter setup below and channel the water into a water tank. The process works best in high-elevated areas both rural and arid. However, it wouldn’t work well in cities due to the water and space constraint requirements of urban environments. Projects can use anywhere from 2 to 100 fog collectors to collect between 150 and 750 liters of fresh water per panel each day depending on the location and how much fog is in the air. Annual precipitation in Chile is less than 6 centimeters where 100 fog collectors have been gathering 15,000 liters of water each year for the past ten years. Harvested fog water also meets the standards of the World Health Organization’s drinking water. Is Sustainable Water Being Collected around the World? Above Lima, Peru, the hills gets around 1.5 centimeters of rain every year; however, fog from the Pacific Ocean comes in from June to November. In the village of Bellavista, a FogQuest project uses seven fog collectors to collect 2,271 liters of water per day. The villagers now have enough water to drink, grow gardens, and grow Tara trees that produce tannins, which are sold and used as leather treatment. Eventually, the trees will self-sustain and collect their own water from fog, replenishing the groundwater and reforesting the area. Before you go! Recommended:  Blue Planet Earth: The Amount Of Water You Use Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on 'Register'  or push the button  ' Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'
Water is the most important resource in the world since we need it for almost everything we do; drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning, bathing, growing crops, feeding cattle, and more. Did you know that it takes 10,000 liters of water to make just one pair of jeans, 2,700 liters for a T-shirt, and agriculture alone uses about 70% of the earth's freshwater? Thus, there are 7.5 billion people on earth who share earth’s commodities and by 2050 that number is expected to reach 10 billion. Although 72% of Earth is made up of water, 97% is not suitable for drinking as it is salty ocean water. In some countries, not only do children miss out on getting an education while adults also miss work, but each year 300,000 children under the age of five die due to dirty water. According to the U.N, out of every ten people, at least two do not have a clean source of drinking water, and therefore, millions of them — mostly children — die due to diseases caused by an inadequate supply of sanitized water. Therefore, providing water around the globe to those in need is vital. Fortunately, there is a way to obtain clean water which is already being used in many deprived countries around the world. Sanitized Water Is Being Collected For Use Globally The Atacama Desert in northern Chile that spans to Peru is the driest desert in the world as it has never recorded any rainfall. In fact, it is so dry that mountains elevated at 22,589 ft., are glacier free. Nevertheless, this desert and others alike around the world may soon be reborn as there is a process being used to gather the vapors from fog to produce water. While there may not be water on the ground, there is, however, moist air coming from the dense coastal fog that can be collected and used to supply those in need of a good clean source of water. This process can shed some life on deprived desolate landscapes by making it possible to grow crops in these areas. Scientists of the Alto Patache research Centre of The Universidad Catolica found plants growing in the desert from seeds that had been hidden for many years hydrated by water collected during fog. Some projects, using fog water to transform dry patches of deserts into large scale farmlands, have been performed to verify the validity of growing crops in desolate areas. Today the process is being utilized by local villagers around the globe, using specially designed nets to gather water collected from the vapor in the air. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food Fog Collectors? What Are They? Fog collectors are large nets made of a polypropylene mesh that is hung between two poles to capture the droplets of water from mists in the air that are provided by the fog. When the droplets are collected, they flow through large storage tanks where it's kept for use or shipped by trucks to nearby locations. For example, in places like the Andes, water is being piped through towns from many miles away or delivered by water trucks. The best part about all this is that the water is pure and can be used for agriculture and for drinking. Therefore, we have found a sustainable way to replenish extremely dry areas. Fog Water Has Been Collected for Centuries Collecting fog and dew is nothing new; it is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years. In fact, archaeologists found evidence that low circular walls were built around vines and plants in Israel to collect condensation moisture. Furthermore, in Egypt and the Atacama Desert of South America, stones were arranged in piles for the condensation to trickle down the inside of the walls where it was collected and stored. Deserts and regions that only get less than one millimeter of rain each year can collect water using fog collectors as long as there are light winds and of course, enough fog. Recommended:  Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy Fog Collectors Today? Who is Responsible for Using Them? There are a number of scientists and professors who have been involved with fog water research for many years; climatologist Jana Olivier is an associate professor at the 'University of South Africa' (UNISA) 'School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences'. Olivier worked in collaboration with three researchers at the University of Pretoria- Professor Hannes Rautenbach, Professor Johan van Heerden, and Tinus Truter- on many projects in South Africa where people have always suffered and even died for lacking clean water. The group launched a fog harvesting project in at least 6 water-stressed locations in South Africa and thanks to them, the residents now have clean water to drink, grow food, and make money. In addition, FogQuest is a Canadian non-profit organization that was founded by atmospheric scientist Robert Schemenauer and Sherry Bennett in 2000, after 20 years of working on fog collection. The organization is made up of volunteers and they get their funding from donations, grants, and membership fees. The company makes nets to collect the water from moisture in the air. They have established projects utilizing modern fog collectors to instill reforestation and irrigation in developing countries in many locations around the world including Guatemala, Peru, Eritrea, Ecuador, Oman, South Africa, Nepal, Cape Verde Islands, Israel, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Chile. {youtube}                                                                              Cloud Catchers of Peru                                                Fog Catchers: Making Water Out Of Air In Africa, Peru, Chile How Does the Process Work? Fog comes from a cloud touching the ground. It is made up of mist or tiny droplets of water. According to FogQuest, one cubic meter of fog contains between 0.05 and 0.5 grams of water. Fog collectors are made of a polyethylene or polypropylene mesh and resemble a giant volleyball net that is hung between two large poles. They are extremely effective at capturing droplets of water. When the fog comes through, the tiny water droplets will cling to the mesh and will soon cluster together as more build-up. These water clusters will then drip into the gutter setup below and channel the water into a water tank. The process works best in high-elevated areas both rural and arid. However, it wouldn’t work well in cities due to the water and space constraint requirements of urban environments. Projects can use anywhere from 2 to 100 fog collectors to collect between 150 and 750 liters of fresh water per panel each day depending on the location and how much fog is in the air. Annual precipitation in Chile is less than 6 centimeters where 100 fog collectors have been gathering 15,000 liters of water each year for the past ten years. Harvested fog water also meets the standards of the World Health Organization’s drinking water. Is Sustainable Water Being Collected around the World? Above Lima, Peru, the hills gets around 1.5 centimeters of rain every year; however, fog from the Pacific Ocean comes in from June to November. In the village of Bellavista, a FogQuest project uses seven fog collectors to collect 2,271 liters of water per day. The villagers now have enough water to drink, grow gardens, and grow Tara trees that produce tannins, which are sold and used as leather treatment. Eventually, the trees will self-sustain and collect their own water from fog, replenishing the groundwater and reforesting the area. Before you go! Recommended:  Blue Planet Earth: The Amount Of Water You Use Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on 'Register'  or push the button  ' Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'
Fog Catchers: Making Water Out Of Air In Africa, Peru, Chile
Fog Catchers: Making Water Out Of Air In Africa, Peru, Chile
Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy
Nature Sustainability published a paper about agrivoltaics. The article presents the first field-data evaluation of the results of a multi-year study of agronomy (agrivoltaics) in dry areas led by UA-geographer Greg Barron-Gafford. Creating resilience in renewable energy and food production is a crucial challenge in today's evolving world, especially in regions that are sensitive to heat and drought. Agrivoltaics, the co-location of agriculture and photovoltaic solar panels, suggests a potential solution. With a new study under the guidance of the University of Arizona, research has shown a positive impact on food production, water-saving and the efficiency of electricity production. Solar sharing Agrivoltaics, also referred to as solar sharing, is an idea that has been on the rise in recent years, but few studies have checked all aspects of the associated food, energy and water systems. What should be mentioned is that no research has focused on dry areas or regions. These regions are facing food production problems and water shortages but on the overabundance of solar energy. "Many of us want more renewable energy, but where do you place all of those panels? Recommended:  Solar Sono Motors Car: Developed in Germany, Made In Sweden There are a lot of more solar installations now than there was before, but mostly on the edges of the cities", commented Greg Barron-Gafford. Barron-Gafford is an associate professor in the School of Geography and Development and lead author on the paper that was published today in Nature Sustainability. Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy Do we prefer to use the land for food or energy production? Researchers started to ask, "Why not produce both in the same place?" So, that is what happens right now: growing peppers, crops of tomatoes, herbs and kale all in the shadow. "So what do you prefer for land use: food or energy production? This challenge strikes right at the intersection of human-environment connections, and that is where geographers shine!" said Barron-Gafford, who is also a researcher with Biosphere 2. "We started to ask, 'Why do we nog produce them both in the same place?' And we have been growing crops like tomatoes, peppers, chard, kale, and herbs all in the shadow of the solar panels. Recommended:  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3) {youtube}                                             Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy                                                                   Biosphere 2 Agrivoltaics Measure the crops With the help of photovoltaic solar panels or PV panels and regional vegetables, the team created the first agrivoltaic research location in Biosphere 2. Professors and students measured everything from the moment the plants sprouted to the number of carbon plants they released from the atmosphere and water to their total food production during the entire growing season. During an average three-month summer growing season, the researchers monitored the incoming light levels, the relative humidity and the air temperature above the soil surface at a depth of 5 centimetres. They focused on chiltepin pepper, cherry tomato plants and jalapeños that were positioned under a PV array. Both the traditional area as the agrivoltaics area got the same daily irrigation. The researchers discovered that the agrivoltaics system has a significant impact on three factors that affect plant growth and reproduction: - air temperature - direct sunlight - the demand for water In the agrivoltaic area, the plants were placed in the shadow of the PV-panels. This resulted in cooler daytime temperature opposite to warmer night temperatures. There was also more humidity. Beneficial for: food, water and energy They found out that a lot of food crops grow better in the shadow of the solar panels because they cannot get direct sunlight. "The total chiltepin fruit production was three times greater under the PV panels in an agrivoltaics system, and tomato production was twice as high, according to Baron-Gafford. Jalapeños produced a similar amount of fruit in both the agrivoltaics system and the traditional one, but with almost no water loss. The researchers also discovered that we could support every crop growth for days with the agrivoltaics systems, not just hours in the current traditional plots. We can reduce water use but maintain the level of food production. There is not only beneficial to the plants but also to energy production: agrivoltaics systems increase the efficiency of energy production. Due to the use of solar panels for cultivating crops, researchers were able to reduce the temperature of the groups. The researchers say that more research with additional plant species is necessary. They also indicate the impact that agrivoltaic products can have on the physical and social well-being of farmworkers, which has not yet been studied. Preliminary data show that the skin temperature can be about 18 degrees Fahrenheit cooler when working in an agrivoltaic area than in traditional agriculture. Climate change There is already a lot of disruption in food production because of climate change. Agrivoltaic systems could help, not only for the crops but also for the farm labour. They work in the heat, which can cause heat strokes. Agrivoltaic systems can help diminish heat and maintain humidity. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food
Nature Sustainability published a paper about agrivoltaics. The article presents the first field-data evaluation of the results of a multi-year study of agronomy (agrivoltaics) in dry areas led by UA-geographer Greg Barron-Gafford. Creating resilience in renewable energy and food production is a crucial challenge in today's evolving world, especially in regions that are sensitive to heat and drought. Agrivoltaics, the co-location of agriculture and photovoltaic solar panels, suggests a potential solution. With a new study under the guidance of the University of Arizona, research has shown a positive impact on food production, water-saving and the efficiency of electricity production. Solar sharing Agrivoltaics, also referred to as solar sharing, is an idea that has been on the rise in recent years, but few studies have checked all aspects of the associated food, energy and water systems. What should be mentioned is that no research has focused on dry areas or regions. These regions are facing food production problems and water shortages but on the overabundance of solar energy. "Many of us want more renewable energy, but where do you place all of those panels? Recommended:  Solar Sono Motors Car: Developed in Germany, Made In Sweden There are a lot of more solar installations now than there was before, but mostly on the edges of the cities", commented Greg Barron-Gafford. Barron-Gafford is an associate professor in the School of Geography and Development and lead author on the paper that was published today in Nature Sustainability. Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy Do we prefer to use the land for food or energy production? Researchers started to ask, "Why not produce both in the same place?" So, that is what happens right now: growing peppers, crops of tomatoes, herbs and kale all in the shadow. "So what do you prefer for land use: food or energy production? This challenge strikes right at the intersection of human-environment connections, and that is where geographers shine!" said Barron-Gafford, who is also a researcher with Biosphere 2. "We started to ask, 'Why do we nog produce them both in the same place?' And we have been growing crops like tomatoes, peppers, chard, kale, and herbs all in the shadow of the solar panels. Recommended:  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3) {youtube}                                             Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water and Energy                                                                   Biosphere 2 Agrivoltaics Measure the crops With the help of photovoltaic solar panels or PV panels and regional vegetables, the team created the first agrivoltaic research location in Biosphere 2. Professors and students measured everything from the moment the plants sprouted to the number of carbon plants they released from the atmosphere and water to their total food production during the entire growing season. During an average three-month summer growing season, the researchers monitored the incoming light levels, the relative humidity and the air temperature above the soil surface at a depth of 5 centimetres. They focused on chiltepin pepper, cherry tomato plants and jalapeños that were positioned under a PV array. Both the traditional area as the agrivoltaics area got the same daily irrigation. The researchers discovered that the agrivoltaics system has a significant impact on three factors that affect plant growth and reproduction: - air temperature - direct sunlight - the demand for water In the agrivoltaic area, the plants were placed in the shadow of the PV-panels. This resulted in cooler daytime temperature opposite to warmer night temperatures. There was also more humidity. Beneficial for: food, water and energy They found out that a lot of food crops grow better in the shadow of the solar panels because they cannot get direct sunlight. "The total chiltepin fruit production was three times greater under the PV panels in an agrivoltaics system, and tomato production was twice as high, according to Baron-Gafford. Jalapeños produced a similar amount of fruit in both the agrivoltaics system and the traditional one, but with almost no water loss. The researchers also discovered that we could support every crop growth for days with the agrivoltaics systems, not just hours in the current traditional plots. We can reduce water use but maintain the level of food production. There is not only beneficial to the plants but also to energy production: agrivoltaics systems increase the efficiency of energy production. Due to the use of solar panels for cultivating crops, researchers were able to reduce the temperature of the groups. The researchers say that more research with additional plant species is necessary. They also indicate the impact that agrivoltaic products can have on the physical and social well-being of farmworkers, which has not yet been studied. Preliminary data show that the skin temperature can be about 18 degrees Fahrenheit cooler when working in an agrivoltaic area than in traditional agriculture. Climate change There is already a lot of disruption in food production because of climate change. Agrivoltaic systems could help, not only for the crops but also for the farm labour. They work in the heat, which can cause heat strokes. Agrivoltaic systems can help diminish heat and maintain humidity. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food
Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy
Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy
Farmers Using Flowers Instead Of Chemicals To Tackle Pests
Flowers are colorful. They smell nice and brighten up many homes and gardens. But flowers have another crucial advantage: they attract insects. Pesticides are causing major problems: they are polluting drinking water, for example, and killing bees. That is why more and more farmers are now using flowers instead of these chemicals to tackle pests on their land. To ensure more beneficial bugs visit their fields to feed on pests, some farmers are planting ‘flower strips’ in and around their crops. This kind of biological pest control seems to be an excellent way of contributing to the ecological intensification of agriculture. ( Recommended:  Vegetables, Fruit, Edible Flowers, But Also Bees In Cities Urban Farming ) Flowers instead of chemicals to tackle pests With mounting evidence about the problems caused by pesticides, many of the insect-killers have been taken off the market in the UK and Europe. However, others are still frequently used; and that frequent use makes them less effective, as pests become resistant to the chemicals. Fortunately, there is a biological way to combat pests on land. The so-called flower strips can encourage natural opponents of agricultural pests. As a result, the damage to agricultural crops is less, and there is hardly any need to use polluting plant protection products. The natural enemies of pests in arable crops will do the job. Experimenting with farmers using flowers, ‘a highway for bugs’ This kind of biological pest control is nothing new. Cultivating an environment where natural pest predators can live by growing flowers between other crops is already a common practice for promoting biodiversity. For example, farmers already know that aphids (a common pest for multiple crops) don't stand a chance if they must share their home with parasitic wasps. They will eat the lice in their larval state. But now, agriculturalists are experimenting with strips of flowers within their crops, creating a highway for bugs to travel farther and cover more ground for pest control. It may be a strange sight: strips of land that generally should have one color, but now have all kinds of vividly colored flowers in the middle. Due to a new study, fourteen sites will look like this. The study tests how well the wildflowers attract pest-eating bugs, and how well they can help replace commercial – and polluting - pesticides. ( Recommended :  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3) ) Pesticides will be the last line of defense on farms The study includes borders of wildflowers around each field - something that some farmers have used over the past two decades in the area to promote general biodiversity, not specifically for pest control. Also, there are strips of flowers placed in the middle of fields. Small insects cannot travel far, but with these flower strips, they can enter the entire land. A similar study was done in Switzerland, where one of the results was that the leaf damage was reduced by 61%. The researchers estimated that choosing the right mix of flowers could increase yield 10%, making it economically self-sustaining or even profitable to keep planting flowers. The research shows that the use of aggressive pesticides can probably not be eliminated entirely, but that this natural method will make a big difference in the necessary quantity. If this biological approach is combined with other techniques, such as using technology to diagnose vermin, pesticide use could be dramatically reduced, and serve as a last line of defense on farms, rather than the first thing farmers reach for. {youtube}                                                       7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests Biological method: farmers using flowers and herbs You can also apply this organic method of pest control at home. By strategically placing insect repellent plants in your house or garden, you can keep annoying pests at bay. Curious about which flowers, plants, and herbs you should purchase as a natural bug repellent? According to the American company Aerex Pest Control, these are the best ways to keep those fleas, mosquitoes, and flies out. Please note that these plants, herbs, and flowers will not exterminate complete pests. This way of biological pest control can be beneficial when combined with other forms of proactive pest control in and around your home. Basil: repels mosquitoes and flies (and tastes great) Aerex Pest Control says that basil is a ‘great solution for repelling mosquitoes and flies’. These annoying insects don’t like the smell of this herb. Basil grows best with lots of sun and water. You can buy basil in a container in almost every supermarket and plant it in your garden. Easy does it! An additional advantage: basil tastes excellent with some mozzarella and tomato. Citronella: keeps the mosquitos away Citronella is known for its mosquito repelling odor: it had essential oils in it that these insects hate. You can buy citronella candles or a spray, but you can also strategically place this plant with strongly lemon-scented leaves in your home or garden. “It does well in a pot, or in the ground in a sunny and well-drained location,” according to Aerex Pest Control. Lavender: great for pest control The sweet smell of lavender is great for a good night’s sleep, but also to help repel flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Thereby, it is a fantastic plant for pest control. The beautiful purple flowers will not look out of place in a colorful garden. “This plant is easy to maintain since it can basically survive all weather conditions.” Marigolds: repels and provide pops of color Marigolds will repel mosquitoes and aphids since they dislike the scent of this beautiful plant. “Plant them in sunny areas of your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, you can plant these throughout your garden to provide pops of color. Chrysanthemum: the greatest insect repeller among flowers Chrysanthemum helps to repel a lot of pests, including spider mites, ticks, roaches, lice, and fleas aphids, according to Aerex. The special ingredient: pyrethrum. You can find this in numerous insect-repelling sprays, as well as pet shampoos. This beautiful flower will look great both indoors and outdoors. ( Recommended:  New Foodscape Alternatives Gets Attention In The Netherlands )
Flowers are colorful. They smell nice and brighten up many homes and gardens. But flowers have another crucial advantage: they attract insects. Pesticides are causing major problems: they are polluting drinking water, for example, and killing bees. That is why more and more farmers are now using flowers instead of these chemicals to tackle pests on their land. To ensure more beneficial bugs visit their fields to feed on pests, some farmers are planting ‘flower strips’ in and around their crops. This kind of biological pest control seems to be an excellent way of contributing to the ecological intensification of agriculture. ( Recommended:  Vegetables, Fruit, Edible Flowers, But Also Bees In Cities Urban Farming ) Flowers instead of chemicals to tackle pests With mounting evidence about the problems caused by pesticides, many of the insect-killers have been taken off the market in the UK and Europe. However, others are still frequently used; and that frequent use makes them less effective, as pests become resistant to the chemicals. Fortunately, there is a biological way to combat pests on land. The so-called flower strips can encourage natural opponents of agricultural pests. As a result, the damage to agricultural crops is less, and there is hardly any need to use polluting plant protection products. The natural enemies of pests in arable crops will do the job. Experimenting with farmers using flowers, ‘a highway for bugs’ This kind of biological pest control is nothing new. Cultivating an environment where natural pest predators can live by growing flowers between other crops is already a common practice for promoting biodiversity. For example, farmers already know that aphids (a common pest for multiple crops) don't stand a chance if they must share their home with parasitic wasps. They will eat the lice in their larval state. But now, agriculturalists are experimenting with strips of flowers within their crops, creating a highway for bugs to travel farther and cover more ground for pest control. It may be a strange sight: strips of land that generally should have one color, but now have all kinds of vividly colored flowers in the middle. Due to a new study, fourteen sites will look like this. The study tests how well the wildflowers attract pest-eating bugs, and how well they can help replace commercial – and polluting - pesticides. ( Recommended :  Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3) ) Pesticides will be the last line of defense on farms The study includes borders of wildflowers around each field - something that some farmers have used over the past two decades in the area to promote general biodiversity, not specifically for pest control. Also, there are strips of flowers placed in the middle of fields. Small insects cannot travel far, but with these flower strips, they can enter the entire land. A similar study was done in Switzerland, where one of the results was that the leaf damage was reduced by 61%. The researchers estimated that choosing the right mix of flowers could increase yield 10%, making it economically self-sustaining or even profitable to keep planting flowers. The research shows that the use of aggressive pesticides can probably not be eliminated entirely, but that this natural method will make a big difference in the necessary quantity. If this biological approach is combined with other techniques, such as using technology to diagnose vermin, pesticide use could be dramatically reduced, and serve as a last line of defense on farms, rather than the first thing farmers reach for. {youtube}                                                       7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests Biological method: farmers using flowers and herbs You can also apply this organic method of pest control at home. By strategically placing insect repellent plants in your house or garden, you can keep annoying pests at bay. Curious about which flowers, plants, and herbs you should purchase as a natural bug repellent? According to the American company Aerex Pest Control, these are the best ways to keep those fleas, mosquitoes, and flies out. Please note that these plants, herbs, and flowers will not exterminate complete pests. This way of biological pest control can be beneficial when combined with other forms of proactive pest control in and around your home. Basil: repels mosquitoes and flies (and tastes great) Aerex Pest Control says that basil is a ‘great solution for repelling mosquitoes and flies’. These annoying insects don’t like the smell of this herb. Basil grows best with lots of sun and water. You can buy basil in a container in almost every supermarket and plant it in your garden. Easy does it! An additional advantage: basil tastes excellent with some mozzarella and tomato. Citronella: keeps the mosquitos away Citronella is known for its mosquito repelling odor: it had essential oils in it that these insects hate. You can buy citronella candles or a spray, but you can also strategically place this plant with strongly lemon-scented leaves in your home or garden. “It does well in a pot, or in the ground in a sunny and well-drained location,” according to Aerex Pest Control. Lavender: great for pest control The sweet smell of lavender is great for a good night’s sleep, but also to help repel flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Thereby, it is a fantastic plant for pest control. The beautiful purple flowers will not look out of place in a colorful garden. “This plant is easy to maintain since it can basically survive all weather conditions.” Marigolds: repels and provide pops of color Marigolds will repel mosquitoes and aphids since they dislike the scent of this beautiful plant. “Plant them in sunny areas of your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, you can plant these throughout your garden to provide pops of color. Chrysanthemum: the greatest insect repeller among flowers Chrysanthemum helps to repel a lot of pests, including spider mites, ticks, roaches, lice, and fleas aphids, according to Aerex. The special ingredient: pyrethrum. You can find this in numerous insect-repelling sprays, as well as pet shampoos. This beautiful flower will look great both indoors and outdoors. ( Recommended:  New Foodscape Alternatives Gets Attention In The Netherlands )
Farmers Using Flowers Instead Of Chemicals To Tackle Pests
Farmers Using Flowers Instead Of Chemicals To Tackle Pests
Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3)
Once upon a time, the majority of land on our planet was covered with trees and forests. Undoubtedly a gorgeous view - and a perfect habitat for many of the plant and animal species that live on our planet. Unfortunately the number of forests have dwindled significantly over the past decades, most notably as the result of the ever increasing use of forestland for agricultural purposes. After having served its purpose, the land will once again be abandoned and quite literally left to waste. Agriculture our food source Back in the pre-industrial age, estimates were that some 5.9 billion hectares of our planet’s surface was covered by forest. This number has decreased significantly, down to a mere 4 billion hectare (still making up 31% of the world’s land surface) in recent years. And the rate with which it is declining is alarming: an area roughly the size of Greece goes to waste every year, putting more and more treasured land at risk.   Especially now that the world population seems to be booming, we need more space - both for living and for growing our food - and the forest seems the most logical place to take it away from. Only now are we starting to realise that this logical choice has definitely not been the cleverest one: trees have rightfully earned their spot as ‘lungs of the world’, capable of absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen. At this time, they are the best medicine against global warming that we’ve got. Simultaneously, we have resorted to using land as a disposable product. Once it has been plundered for its use in agriculture, we leave it to be and move on to the next piece. Eventually, this will exhaust our most important food source, passing on an enormous problem to future mankind. Regenerative agriculture, agrofostry, biodiversity Enter agroforestry, another example of regenerative agriculture; a topic that I already dedicated two articles to. Regenerative agriculture is a set of systems that focus on providing plants with the proper micro-climatic conditions and ecosystem to thrive, rather than just with water, soil and fertiliser for the duration of the activities. It combines both food and non-food plants, along with the right micro-organisms and animals needed to let an ecosystem suitable for this particular environment and climate thrive. Such a biodiverse system has a lot of benefits: as it has proven to be more productive, versatile and weather-resistant. Each species of plants that is planted brings its own unique benefits to the table. Some provide nitrogen-fixing for higher fertility; others soil carbon to feed micro-organisms and prevent erosion and retain water; fruit and vegetable plants are used to generate revenue and lure animals, who are capable of pollinating and cycling nutrients. Taller, leafier plant species are great at providing much needed shade. Each species has its own role to play in the ‘larger whole’. This system forms the backbone of regenerative agriculture, where agriculture does not directly interfere with the quality of land - or if it does, only serves to improve the quality of the land. And although agriculture will always remain a man-managed process, the principles of ecological succession can be ‘planned’, just to use another management term.   Through careful analysis of similar ecosystems, the sequence of plant species could be duplicated - the same way that the ecosystem would restore itself after a wildfire, if left to its own devices. Only after truly ‘understanding’ Mother Nature’s ways will it be possible to mimic her ways of creating fertile land; particularly when it comes to land that has previously been exhausted and consequently abandoned. One of the most important activities in regenerative agriculture is constant pruning. It may seem redundant, but the importance of frequently grooming the plants cannot be overstated. Through pruning, the amount of soil carbon will increase; while more sun will be able to reach lower plants. Sometimes it really is as simple as listening to the nature and taking good care of her. In order to do so, a crucial element is needed: freshwater, unfortunately a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. It currently makes up some 2.5% of the total water supply on our planet; while we - and in particular, the agricultural sector - need more and more of it. As this seems inherently incongruent, it would be valuable to explore ways of, indeed, regenerating water. What if we could use, say, sea water for agricultural purposes instead? It would guarantee sufficient water for agriculture while not depleting the freshwater supply. This too is a part of regenerative agriculture, finding ways of growing crops using alternative sources of water. With the world’s population projected to increase exponentially in decades to come, even the most conservative estimates foresee an uptake in food demand of up to 60% compared to the current day. We simply cannot figure this out without discounting the need for new water sources. There are actually some plant and animal species that really do well in a saltwater environment. Now it could be as simple as creating specialised (shell)fish or saltwater crops farms in coastal areas. Although it can also be taken to a whole new level, for instance by using it in a desert area. Take Carl Hodges, a physicist who turned a large area of Eritrean desert into a thriving oasis. He focused on various activities that did well using seawater, and figured out the optimal flow of water - to ensure that each activity would get the most suitable water. Long story short, the seawater was first used for his shrimp and prawn-growing farms; after which that water was re-used for a tilapia farm (where the tilapia would partially serve as feed for the shrimp, talking about the circle of life). After that, water would flow to a salicornia plantation and run through a mangrove forest. Eventually it would flow to a wetland. Each of those stages came with specific species that would thrive using such water in such an environment - which explains why Hodges’ farm was a success.   Eventually, that is always what it is about. Success, preferably measured in money or time saved. The more industrialised approach has been adequate in the past, enabling neat monoculture rows powered by chemicals to produce plenty of food in as little time as possible. Yet the number of chemicals needed to sustain the increasing demand is rising sharply, just as we are fully starting to recognise the damage that those materials are causing to the environment, degrading ecosystems and - with it - the fertility and diversity of land.   Regenerative agriculture does also promise similarly high yields in an equally short time; but without those negative side effects. This focus on both profit and planet gives it a tremendous potential for not only transforming, but also revolutionising the agricultural industry. There are numerous examples of farmers who have already successfully employed this set of techniques to come out on top, with yields and profits searing.   Yet the other benefits should not be discounted either. After all, it is a systemic solution that will boost ecosystems, increase resilience, and help fight climate change . And while some may argue that it will be inherently harder to implement such a radical idea, the fact that it tackles so many issues at once should just about make it worth it. I will not try to pretend that it will be easy to implement on a larger scale, in order to let it reach its full potential. Regenerative agriculture thrives on natural processes, and these can be somewhat tedious. In order to help the soil contain a sufficient amount of microbes, one will have to wait several seasons for it to evolve. It may even take up to (several) decades before the land is truly ready to live up to its full potential. At the same time, this process will require not only a radically different style of working - mindset, if you wish -; it may also require new equipment and devices, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the new processes. This is where the government and financial industry comes in. Through their support, some of the risks associated with this transformation can be mitigated. This includes the offering of subsidies, special insurances, training and other incentives that will make the switch more appealing. Simultaneously, new monitoring systems and checks will have to be installed that are capable of gauging the current status of the process. It is important to verify whether a farm is indeed on the right track, or needs more adjusting in order to fully ‘tune in’ to its surrounding ecosystem. At the same time, this can be looked upon as another major opportunity for the market, as more tools will have to be developed that are suitable for regenerative agriculture. There is a huge ‘blue ocean’ out there in the market, that may be easy to jump into. One simply has to understand the importance - and be ingrained with a deep appreciation of - the proven connection between growing healthy food in a healthy ecosystem, clean air and clean water, overall human well-being, and more resilience in surrounding communities that depend on those farms for their livelihood. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Once upon a time, the majority of land on our planet was covered with trees and forests. Undoubtedly a gorgeous view - and a perfect habitat for many of the plant and animal species that live on our planet. Unfortunately the number of forests have dwindled significantly over the past decades, most notably as the result of the ever increasing use of forestland for agricultural purposes. After having served its purpose, the land will once again be abandoned and quite literally left to waste. Agriculture our food source Back in the pre-industrial age, estimates were that some 5.9 billion hectares of our planet’s surface was covered by forest. This number has decreased significantly, down to a mere 4 billion hectare (still making up 31% of the world’s land surface) in recent years. And the rate with which it is declining is alarming: an area roughly the size of Greece goes to waste every year, putting more and more treasured land at risk.   Especially now that the world population seems to be booming, we need more space - both for living and for growing our food - and the forest seems the most logical place to take it away from. Only now are we starting to realise that this logical choice has definitely not been the cleverest one: trees have rightfully earned their spot as ‘lungs of the world’, capable of absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen. At this time, they are the best medicine against global warming that we’ve got. Simultaneously, we have resorted to using land as a disposable product. Once it has been plundered for its use in agriculture, we leave it to be and move on to the next piece. Eventually, this will exhaust our most important food source, passing on an enormous problem to future mankind. Regenerative agriculture, agrofostry, biodiversity Enter agroforestry, another example of regenerative agriculture; a topic that I already dedicated two articles to. Regenerative agriculture is a set of systems that focus on providing plants with the proper micro-climatic conditions and ecosystem to thrive, rather than just with water, soil and fertiliser for the duration of the activities. It combines both food and non-food plants, along with the right micro-organisms and animals needed to let an ecosystem suitable for this particular environment and climate thrive. Such a biodiverse system has a lot of benefits: as it has proven to be more productive, versatile and weather-resistant. Each species of plants that is planted brings its own unique benefits to the table. Some provide nitrogen-fixing for higher fertility; others soil carbon to feed micro-organisms and prevent erosion and retain water; fruit and vegetable plants are used to generate revenue and lure animals, who are capable of pollinating and cycling nutrients. Taller, leafier plant species are great at providing much needed shade. Each species has its own role to play in the ‘larger whole’. This system forms the backbone of regenerative agriculture, where agriculture does not directly interfere with the quality of land - or if it does, only serves to improve the quality of the land. And although agriculture will always remain a man-managed process, the principles of ecological succession can be ‘planned’, just to use another management term.   Through careful analysis of similar ecosystems, the sequence of plant species could be duplicated - the same way that the ecosystem would restore itself after a wildfire, if left to its own devices. Only after truly ‘understanding’ Mother Nature’s ways will it be possible to mimic her ways of creating fertile land; particularly when it comes to land that has previously been exhausted and consequently abandoned. One of the most important activities in regenerative agriculture is constant pruning. It may seem redundant, but the importance of frequently grooming the plants cannot be overstated. Through pruning, the amount of soil carbon will increase; while more sun will be able to reach lower plants. Sometimes it really is as simple as listening to the nature and taking good care of her. In order to do so, a crucial element is needed: freshwater, unfortunately a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. It currently makes up some 2.5% of the total water supply on our planet; while we - and in particular, the agricultural sector - need more and more of it. As this seems inherently incongruent, it would be valuable to explore ways of, indeed, regenerating water. What if we could use, say, sea water for agricultural purposes instead? It would guarantee sufficient water for agriculture while not depleting the freshwater supply. This too is a part of regenerative agriculture, finding ways of growing crops using alternative sources of water. With the world’s population projected to increase exponentially in decades to come, even the most conservative estimates foresee an uptake in food demand of up to 60% compared to the current day. We simply cannot figure this out without discounting the need for new water sources. There are actually some plant and animal species that really do well in a saltwater environment. Now it could be as simple as creating specialised (shell)fish or saltwater crops farms in coastal areas. Although it can also be taken to a whole new level, for instance by using it in a desert area. Take Carl Hodges, a physicist who turned a large area of Eritrean desert into a thriving oasis. He focused on various activities that did well using seawater, and figured out the optimal flow of water - to ensure that each activity would get the most suitable water. Long story short, the seawater was first used for his shrimp and prawn-growing farms; after which that water was re-used for a tilapia farm (where the tilapia would partially serve as feed for the shrimp, talking about the circle of life). After that, water would flow to a salicornia plantation and run through a mangrove forest. Eventually it would flow to a wetland. Each of those stages came with specific species that would thrive using such water in such an environment - which explains why Hodges’ farm was a success.   Eventually, that is always what it is about. Success, preferably measured in money or time saved. The more industrialised approach has been adequate in the past, enabling neat monoculture rows powered by chemicals to produce plenty of food in as little time as possible. Yet the number of chemicals needed to sustain the increasing demand is rising sharply, just as we are fully starting to recognise the damage that those materials are causing to the environment, degrading ecosystems and - with it - the fertility and diversity of land.   Regenerative agriculture does also promise similarly high yields in an equally short time; but without those negative side effects. This focus on both profit and planet gives it a tremendous potential for not only transforming, but also revolutionising the agricultural industry. There are numerous examples of farmers who have already successfully employed this set of techniques to come out on top, with yields and profits searing.   Yet the other benefits should not be discounted either. After all, it is a systemic solution that will boost ecosystems, increase resilience, and help fight climate change . And while some may argue that it will be inherently harder to implement such a radical idea, the fact that it tackles so many issues at once should just about make it worth it. I will not try to pretend that it will be easy to implement on a larger scale, in order to let it reach its full potential. Regenerative agriculture thrives on natural processes, and these can be somewhat tedious. In order to help the soil contain a sufficient amount of microbes, one will have to wait several seasons for it to evolve. It may even take up to (several) decades before the land is truly ready to live up to its full potential. At the same time, this process will require not only a radically different style of working - mindset, if you wish -; it may also require new equipment and devices, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the new processes. This is where the government and financial industry comes in. Through their support, some of the risks associated with this transformation can be mitigated. This includes the offering of subsidies, special insurances, training and other incentives that will make the switch more appealing. Simultaneously, new monitoring systems and checks will have to be installed that are capable of gauging the current status of the process. It is important to verify whether a farm is indeed on the right track, or needs more adjusting in order to fully ‘tune in’ to its surrounding ecosystem. At the same time, this can be looked upon as another major opportunity for the market, as more tools will have to be developed that are suitable for regenerative agriculture. There is a huge ‘blue ocean’ out there in the market, that may be easy to jump into. One simply has to understand the importance - and be ingrained with a deep appreciation of - the proven connection between growing healthy food in a healthy ecosystem, clean air and clean water, overall human well-being, and more resilience in surrounding communities that depend on those farms for their livelihood. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/agri-gardening
Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3)
Regenerative Agriculture: Its Full Potential (Part 3 of 3)
Agri & Gardening

Growing food, either commercially or as a hobby is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It is however not without challenges. Protection against natural or man-made threats, irrigation or other treatments of the soil has to be done with care.

Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fibre and many other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants. The practice of agriculture is also known as ‘farming’, while scientists, inventors and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are also said to be engaged in agriculture.
Subsistence farming; who farms a small area with limited resource inputs, and produces only enough food to meet the needs of his/her family. At the other end is commercial intensive agriculture, including industrial agriculture. Such farming involves large fields, large resource inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.), and a high level of mechanization.

Nowadays, critical attention is given to industrial agriculture. Alternatives are proposed such as regenerative agriculture, the use of drones, smart techniques and blockchain. The use of fertilizer and water in large quantities is also criticized. The risks of monocultures are large and in combination with the depletion of agricultural land, the reduction of insects and climate change, it is necessary to change our view on industrial agriculture and growing crops.

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