Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Agriculture

The Plantui Plantation smart garden allows user control over lighting and watering of thei...

Harsh, cold winters and scarce arable land make growing crops a challenge in Finland. A team of entrepreneurs hailing from the icy nordic nation believe this gives them a certain authority when it comes to growing crops indoors. Launched on Indiegogo yesterday, the team's Plantui Plantation hydroponic smart garden is aimed at giving urban green thumbs the capability to raise almost any kind of plant indoors, up two meters (6.6 ft) in height.  Read More

A Barsha pump at work in Nepal

Climate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe’s best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate.  Read More

Magic Dirt premium potting soil and Bioproduct Innovation of the Year award winner

Magic Dirt may sound like the soil used by Jack to grow his beans, but the Bioproduct Innovation of the Year award winner is just one result of a process that’s addressing the environmental issues caused by effluence from factory farm feedlots. The process starts with anaerobic digesters, specifically a patented two-stage model from Wisconsin-based DVO, which more efficiently converts manure into three valuable byproducts.  Read More

The predictive abilities of big data is being used to improve farming outcomes (Photo: Shu...

Data scientists studying crop growth and weather patterns in Colombia have advised rice farmers not to plant crops, saving millions of dollars. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Colombian Rice Growers Federation have developed a computer model that can work out what crops work best under specific weather conditions in certain areas.  Read More

Artist's concept of NASA's SMAP satellite (Image: NASA)

NASA is set to launch a new satellite with the capacity to measure soil moisture on a global scale. Once operational, data from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite could be used to better inform farmers in agricultural decision making, providing unprecedented levels of detail on moisture trends with an efficiency and speed unattainable using current technology.  Read More

Male medflies that are genetically altered using the RIDL technique don't produce viable f...

Mediterranean fruit flies are responsible for extensive damage to fruit and vegetable crops, not only in the Mediterranean region but also in Australia, North and South America. While existing methods of controlling them include the use of insecticides and sterilization, the University of East Anglia and biotech company Oxitec are pioneering what they claim is a greener and less expensive approach – they're genetically modifying male fruit flies to produce only male viable offspring.  Read More

New Holland Agriculture's CR10.90 - the new horsepower heavyweight champion of the combine...

Is there a horsepower war in the combine harvester segment? Probably not, but it's more fun if we pretend there is. New Holland Agriculture has thrown down a grainy gauntlet to Claas, John Deere and the rest of the harvesting industry by releasing the CR10.90 – the world's most powerful combine harvester with a chaff-smoking 652 horsepower (486 kW) fit to thresh the plants off the competition.  Read More

'Ladybird' is an autonomous farm robot capable of conducting mobile monitoring of a variet...

Ladybirds are happily welcomed by gardeners into their yards, knowing that they will consume the most prolific plant pests like white flies, mites, and aphids. Imagine, then, how useful an autonomous, solar-powered, intelligent robotic ladybird could be on a farm. Enter the University of Sydney’s "Ladybird," not actually an eater of insect pests, but a robot capable of conducting mobile farm reconnaissance, mapping, classification, and detection of problems for a variety of different crops.  Read More

The super bananas are yellow on the outside (like the regular bananas seen here), but thei...

According to the Queensland University of Technology's Prof. James Dale, 650,000 to 700,000 children die worldwide every year due to pro-vitamin A deficiency. Many of those children live in East African nations such as Uganda. Dale's proposed solution? Take something that's already grown and eaten there, and genetically modify it to produce the needed vitamin. That's what he's done with the Highland cooking banana. The resulting "super bananas" are about to be the subject of human nutritional trials in the US.  Read More

The new technique could allow corn to be grown in caves or on space colonies (Photo:  Ashl...

Scientists at Purdue University have come up with a way of growing corn in caves, but it doesn't involve some bizarre mating of maize and mushroom. Instead, they manipulated artificial light and temperature in such a way that the growth of the corn plants, while stunted, didn't significantly affect the seed yield. The finding could have a significant impact on the future of genetically modified crops by helping prevent genetically modified pollen escaping into the ecosystem.  Read More

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