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Farming

With robots doing everything from milking cows to crop dusting, farming has come a long way since they days of plodding along behind a horse and plow. Irrigation practices are also benefiting from advances in technology. The large-scale WaterBee smart irrigation and water management system is a case in point: it allows farmers use their smartphones to not only switch on the water where and when it’s needed, but also to get up to the minute information on field conditions. Read More
Patch Planter isn't the first self-watering herb planter to cross our radar: that would be the AeroGarden. But where that product was an all-singing, all-dancing "kitchen garden appliance," Patch is a much more down to earth and affordable piece of design, and one that doesn't require a power supply. Read More
Whole Foods' next New York outlet looks set to become a supermarket with a difference. The supermarket chain will partner Gotham Greens to open a supermarket in Brooklyn sporting a 20,000 sq ft (1,860 sq m) rooftop greenhouse growing produce to be sold on the premises. "This project takes the discussion from food miles to food footsteps," said Gotham Greens Co-Founder, Viraj Puri. Read More
According to China's state press agency, Xinhua, the country's Astronaut Research and Training Center has just perfected a system that can be used to grow vegetables in a closed system. The technology could be used to sustain astronauts with a source of food and oxygen in a possible future base on the Moon. Read More
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
It may be renowned worldwide as the city of romance and revered for its beautiful architecture and art but with over 20,000 inhabitants per square kilometer, Paris is also a very crowded place to live. Parisians who want a steady supply of home-grown greens may turn to window boxes, balconies and small-scale vertical farms (like Window Farms perhaps) for help, but where space is a premium such luxuries might not be possible. Local designers Barreau & Charbonnet have come up with a hanging window garden named Volet végétal in which plant containers are raised and lowered on a pulley system rigged up to the outside of an apartment window. Read More
Weeds are pesky things. They grow everywhere and, by definition, where they’re not wanted. Whether a large-scale farmer or a weekend gardener, everyone who has tried to raise crops has wished that there was a ray gun that could just blast the wretched things out of existence. Now, thanks in part to researchers from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany, that frustrated daydream is closer to reality. Through the use of low-powered infrared lasers, the team has found a way to inhibit weed growth without harming neighboring plants, providing an alternative to expensive, hazardous and environmentally-damaging chemicals. Read More
There's nothing quite like the heady aroma of fresh herbs, and nothing more satisfying than growing your own. Whether you use them to scent a room or give your cooking some much-needed taste bud titillation, if you live in tightly-packed city accommodation then indulging your appetite for fresh greenery can be difficult. If your home is not blessed with enough window space for a hanging garden like Windowfarms, but you have lots of floor space that's just begging to be divided up, then take a look at the Herb 2 project from FABRIKAAT. An experiment in folding and bending, this flexible partition wall is also a herb garden and an unusual source of low-energy lighting for your living space. Read More
After a somewhat unsuccessful and rather expensive attempt at warming a greenhouse, electrical engineer Dr Craig Hollabaugh rigged up a system that keeps the winter chill away by warming the roots of his plants. The WarmDirt system has already helped his plants survive the coldest of Colorado's cold months, and is now getting ready to provide warmth to seedlings during the expected April freeze. This past season's survivors were all flowers but next winter, the setup will be used for growing veggies. Read More
Spain's ULMA Agrícola consortium and Tecnalia research center have developed a new type of photovoltaic solar panel for greenhouses that can generate electricity without an adverse effect on the crops grown within, while additionally providing cooling in summer. The system is designed to exploit the annual oscillation - the variation in the height of the sun's path across the sky over the course of the year. In theory, no solar radiation is compromised over winter, but surplus radiation can be diverted to electricity-generation during summer. Read More
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