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Agriculture

Environment

ESA successfully tests FLEX instrument, designed to create maps of photosynthetic activity

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully tested its Fluorescence Explorer mission (FLEX), which is vying for a spot on the organisation’s eight Earth Explorer satellite. The mission, which aims to create global maps of photosynthetic activity, will allow for the identification of vegetation suffering degrees of stress that simply aren’t visible to the human eye. It has the potential to significantly further our understanding of the global carbon cycle, and could have an impact on agricultural management. Read More

Robotics

VineRobot will keep tabs on the grapes

While many of us may fantasize about running a vineyard someplace like the south of France, doing so wouldn't actually be all ... well, wine and roses. For one thing, you'd need to regularly walk up and down all those rows of vines, continuously stopping to check on the plants themselves and their grapes. It's the sort of thing that it would be nice if a robot could do. A robot like the VineRobot. Read More

Around The Home

Plantui Plantation gives the smart garden room to grow

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

Good Thinking

Barsha pump provides irrigation water, but doesn't need fuel

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

Environment

Turning dairy farm waste into Magic Dirt

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

Environment

How big data is helping farmers save millions

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

Space

NASA satellite set to help farmers combat drought

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

Science

Genetically-modified fruit flies could control wild populations by producing only sons

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

Automotive

New Holland launches the world's most powerful combine harvester

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

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