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Crops


— Drones

Bird-repelling drone imitates a real-life predator to clear property of unwelcome pests

Scarecrows and other visually intimidating props placed on the ground can be useful in deterring birds within a certain radius, but one company is looking further afield by battling the pests in the sky. Designed to resemble a real-life bird of prey, the ProHawk UAV can be programmed to autonomously fly over a property and emit menacing predatory cries as it goes.

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— Biology

Scientists plan to grow potatoes under Martian conditions

A new collaborative project between the International Potato Center (CIP) and NASA will see a crop of potatoes grown on Earth under the same conditions found on the Red Planet. The effort is not only a big step towards the goal of one day constructing a controlled farming dome on Mars, but will also demonstrate the potential of growing potatoes in inhospitable environments back home – something that the researchers hope will help tackle world hunger.

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— Biology

"Magic" native Australian tobacco plant could be key to space-based food production

Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia have discovered a gene in an ancient Australian native tobacco plant that they say is the key to growing crops in space. The plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, has long been used in labs around the world to test viruses and vaccines due to the fact it has no immune system. Surprisingly, this trait has also led to the plant being extremely resilient, which is where space-based food production comes in.

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— 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
— Science

Modifier protein could increase crop yields, even in poor conditions

Researchers have discovered a new way to increase plant growth by suppressing the natural response to environmental stress. The scientists have found a modifier protein that can be used to interfere with the plant's growth repression proteins independently of the previously identified hormone Gibberellin. They believe this will lead to higher crop yields, even in unfavorable conditions. Read More
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