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Agriculture

The compost filter socks in place, in a grassed waterway

Compost filter socks are mesh tubes filled with composted bark and wood chips. Besides making lovely wedding gifts, they are also used at construction sites to limit the amount of silt in water runoff. What was previously unknown, however, was their effectiveness at reducing sediment, herbicides and nutrients in runoff from agricultural fields. Two soil scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have completed a two-year study, measuring just how good a job the socks did when placed in grassed waterways alongside fields. Their conclusion: the socks rock... sort of.  Read More

Aerofarms' aeroponic system

With increasing pressure on global food supplies requiring ever more intelligent use of technology, urbanized vertical aeroponic methods are shaping up as a promising alternative to traditional farming. Aeroponics requires less space, less water and no pesticides and the AeroFarms system takes things further by using LEDs in stacked units to maximize efficiency and use of available space.  Read More

Triumph International's Rice Bra kit

A couple of times a year, Japan's Triumph International unveils a themed undergarment based on a current trend or issue. Bringing women closer to agriculture is the company's latest inspiration for crazy conceptual underwear, which takes form in the shape of the Rice Bra.  Read More

An Ostara PEARL proprietary fluidized bed reactor, used to extract phosphorous from raw se...

Here’s something rather important that you might not know: there may be a worldwide phosphorus shortage within the next few decades. The majority of the world’s phosphorus is currently mined from non-renewable phosphate rock deposits, and widely used in crop fertilizers. Scientists have begun to question just how much more phosphorus is left, and what the agriculture industry will do once it runs out. The answer – or some of it, at least – could be bobbing in a pool of raw sewage. Ostara, a Canadian nutrient recovery company, has developed a method for harvesting phosphorus from municipal wastewater and converting it to fertilizer.  Read More

Nanopool's Liquid Glass being applied to a statue at Ataturk's Mausoleum in Turkey

Yep, you read it right, spray-on glass. It could revolutionize the fields of agriculture, medicine, fashion, transportation - really, it would be easier to list where it might not be applicable. The remarkable product, called Liquid Glass, was developed by the German nano-tech firm Nanopool GmbH. Their patented process, known as “SiO2 ultra thin layering” involves extracting silica molecules from quartz sand, adding them to water or ethanol, and then... well, they won’t tell us what they do next, but the end result is a 100 nanometer-thick, clear, flexible, breathable coating that can be applied to almost any surface. We’re told that there are no added nano-particles, resins or additives - the coating is formed using quantum forces. The possible uses are endless.  Read More

The shape of armed conflict is rapidly changing

The military potential of robotics has long been one of the primary driving forces in the funding of research and development in the field. Aerial UAVs transformed armed conflict so dramatically that a new wave of robotic military capabilities are being readied for the battlefield in the hope of providing a similar competitive edge. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) recently began showing a battery-powered robotic beast of burden which can carry up to 200 kilograms, run three days without a recharge, and follow and respond to the voice commands of its master. Though designed for use on the battlefield, REX has myriad commercial applications in agriculture, manufacturing, and beyond.  Read More

Scientists are hoping their computing tool prototype will lead to better crops, like longe...

Researchers engaged in developing new strains of crops, such as drought-resistant wheat and new pesticides that are more environmentally-friendly, are also creating a computing tool that could help scientists predict how plants will react to different environmental conditions. It’s hoped their findings will help create better crops, such as tastier and longer-lasting tomatoes.  Read More

Can the Earth sustain 9 billion people? We'll find out in the next 50 years.

We're living in lucky times. Living standards - in the Western world, at least - are the highest in history. It's an era of relative peace and plenty that would amaze our ancestors. But it's not going to continue forever; we're already stretching many of our natural resources to their limits, and the world's population will jump from 6.5 billion to around 9 billion over the next 50 years. Get ready for a painful correction - here are four interconnected resources that are headed for a catastrophic squeeze within our lifetime.  Read More

Gizcast #9: can Vertical Farming solve the impending global food crisis?

In this week's Gizcast, we're privileged to be joined by Dr. Dickson Despommier of New York City, who is perhaps the world's leading expert on Vertical Farming, a topic we've covered several times in the past few years. Dr. Despommier speaks with Loz Blain about the social, economic and environmental issues we'll have to face as the Earth's population jumps to 9 billion in the next 40-50 years. If we keep farming the way we are now, we're simply going to run out of land to feed ourselves - so the solution seems clear: we need to start bringing food production and agriculture into the high-rise age. The farms of the future, it seems, will be skyscrapers. Geoffrey Baird also joins us for a weekly roundup of top stories.  Read More

Ordinary plants struggle to grow in saline conditions while the modified plants thrive in ...

Salt might be great with popcorn and peanuts, but it’s not so good with soil. The U.N. estimates that the world loses at least three hectares of arable land every minute because of soil salinity. Most crops simply can’t cope with too much salt. Which is why a breakthrough by a team at the University of Adelaide in Australia could have a profound effect on the food supplies of our future: they’ve found a way to genetically modify plants to become more salt tolerant.  Read More

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