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Agriculture

Rosphere uses a pendulum for locomotion and steering

If you see what looks like a hamster ball rolling around a cornfield, it doesn’t mean that someone’s pet is incredibly lost. It may be an experimental robot developed by the Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) called Rosphere. The spherical robot can propel itself over uneven ground and may one day be rolling up for work in fields to monitor and tend crops.  Read More

The Yamaha RMax helicopter used in the UC Davis tests

Researchers at University of California are testing UAV crop dusting on the Oakville Experimental Vineyard at the UC Oakville Station using a Yamaha RMax remote-controlled helicopter. The purpose is to study the adaptation of Japanese UAV crop dusting techniques for US agriculture, but not all the hurdles they face are technological.  Read More

Sunflower seed husks seem to be a viable aggregate for certain uses (Photo: Phil Hawkswort...

Ordinarily seen as a waste product, the husks of sunflower seeds could be used to make concrete, according to research out of Turkey. Not only are the husks a sustainable source of aggregate, it's claimed that the resulting concrete is more resistant to cracking during post-freeze thaws.  Read More

Sandia National Laboratories chemical engineer Vicki Chavez worked with Kevin Fleming to p...

Ammonium nitrate is a commonly used fertilizer, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it makes a powerful explosive – as seen in last week’s fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. But it's the deliberate use of the compound in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and acts of terror such as the Oklahoma City bombing that gives rise to even greater cause for concern. This is why Kevin Fleming, an optical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, developed a fertilizer alternative that isn’t detonable and therefore can’t be used in a bomb.  Read More

Virginia Tech associate professor Percival Zhang is leading the research on the bioprocess...

Although the causes of world hunger are numerous, it certainly doesn’t help that factors such as arid conditions and limited land space make it difficult to grow food crops in certain places. If people in those areas could eat foods derived from plants that are hardy to the region, but that aren’t considered nutritious, it would go a long way towards addressing the problem. Well, that may soon be a reality, thanks to a newly-developed process that allows cellulose to be converted into starch.  Read More

A French architectural group recently revealed its concept for 'Asian Cairns,' a series of...

As one of the most densely populated cities in China, Shenzhen has been dealing with a sudden population boom for years now, leaving urban planners scrambling for innovative building designs that manage resources and space more efficiently. There have been a few unusual proposals, but the latest design from French architectural firm, Vincent Callebaut Architects, probably takes the cake. The group recently revealed its concept for "Asian Cairns," a series of six sustainable buildings that resemble a stack of pebbles and produce their own food.  Read More

The new water-saving membranes developed at MSU (Photo: MSU)

With climate change predicted to increase the severity and frequency of drought events in many part of the world, water conservation is a growing concern. New water retention technology developed at Michigan State University (MSU) could help quench the thirst of parched crops while using less water, not only enabling crops to better deal with drought, but also improving crop yields in marginal areas.  Read More

The University of Sydney is developing robots for use on farms (Photo: Shutterstock)

The idea of an automated farm has probably been around since rural electrification started in the early 20th century. Replacing back-breaking labor with robots has an obvious appeal, but so far cheap labor in many countries and the insistence of agriculture on being so darn rural has made automation limited in application. Despite this, Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies of the University of Sydney, is heading a team working on developing robotic systems for farms with the aim of turning Australia into the “food bowl” of Asia.  Read More

Lettuce grown in transparent soil developed by researchers at the James Hutton Institute a...

Most people’s image of plants is actually upside down. For most of our photosynthetic friends, the majority of the plant is underground in the form of an intricate system of roots. The bit that sticks up is almost an afterthought. That’s a problem for scientists trying to study plants because growing them in media that allow you to see the roots, such as hydroponics, doesn't mimic real soil very well. Now, a team of researchers at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland has developed an artificial transparent soil that allows scientists to make detailed studies of root structures and subterranean soil ecology on a microscopic level.  Read More

Bountiful harvest fills the trays of a Daiwa Agri-Cube prefab garden factory

Daiwa House, Japan's largest homebuilder, has introduced a line of prefabricated hydroponic vegetable factories, aimed at housing complexes, hotels, and top-end restaurants. Called the Agri-Cube, these units are touted by Daiwa as the first step in the industrialization of agriculture, to be located in and amongst the places where people live, work, and play.  Read More

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