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.
Whereas the majority of vertical farming
concepts and projects featured in Gizmag over the years have either been huge dedicated structures
or add-ons to existing buildings
, the Windowfarms system downsizes and personalizes veggie growing by placing an indoor farm in the window. The original plastic-bottle-based, do-it-yourself hydroponics system design has been available for a while now but the developers are getting ready to make a new, improved kit version available.
Many of us are eagerly awaiting the widespread adoption of autonomous cars
to free us from the hassle of driving to and from work. This kind of technology also has applications beyond the roadway, especially in areas like farming where driving is
the work ... and it's not on paved surfaces with markings and signs laid out. Dealing with the uneven and inconsistent terrain of a field poses unique problems that a team from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) and Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) in Belgium are claiming to have overcome with their robotic self-steering tractor.
There are a number of reasons that many people are opposed to fish farming. Among other things, they claim that the caged fish release too much concentrated waste into the surrounding waters, too many antibiotics and anti-algal chemicals are used, the ecological balance is upset when non-native fish escape from their pens, and strain is put on populations of local fish that are captured for use in feed for carnivorous farmed fish. Unfortunately, wild-fish-capturing methods such as drift net fishing and bottom trawling have big problems of their own. A new system that involves raising fish in mesh spheres that float in the open ocean, however, is claimed to sidestep many of the drawbacks of traditional marine aquaculture. The Velella Research Project is pioneering the technology.
With diseases such as Foot and Mouth, TB, and of course Mad Cow still presenting a danger to cattle, it’s of the utmost importance that farmers monitor the health of their animals, and immediately proceed to isolate any that might be showing symptoms. If you have a herd of over 500 cows, however, keeping track of individuals can be rather tricky. That’s why scientists at England’s Newcastle University have developed electronic ears tags, that they’re trying out on a herd of test cattle.
Plows are one of the most basic agricultural implements and have been in use for thousands of years. In that time they’ve evolved from simple ox-drawn scratch plows consisting of a frame holding a vertical wooden stick dragged through the topsoil – which are still used in many parts of the world – to tractor-mounted plows that can have as many as 18 moldboards. The evolution of the humble plow looks set to continue with Fraunhofer scientists working on diamond-like carbon (DLC)-coated plowshares that would slide through the soil like a hot knife through butter, thereby requiring less fuel.
Marine net-pen fish farms aren’t popular with environmentalists for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being the amount of fish feces and uneaten food that they release into the surrounding ocean. In the UK, help for that problem may be coming in the form of the sea cucumber. Despite its name, the sea cucumber is an animal, that resembles a big slug and is about the same size as ... well, as a cucumber, or sometimes larger. Given that sea cukes subsist on organic matter that they scavenge from the sea floor, scientists at Newcastle University have proposed that they be introduced to fish farms where they could process waste. After eating all that fish poop, some of the cucumbers could then be served up as gourmet cuisine for humans.
It’s well known that happy workers of the human variety are also productive workers, and farmers know that the same holds true for animals. However, because animals aren’t likely to reveal their emotional state on a psychiatrist’s couch, the current methods to measure animals’ wellbeing has largely focused on biological indicators of stress via blood tests or through studies of animal behavior. Now researchers are looking to use cognitive principles based on human psychological theories to assess animal emotions.
In the past few months, we’ve received announcements regarding the mapped genomes of wheat
, of apples
, and even the repulsive human body louse
. Now, researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have sequenced 90 percent of the genome of Meleagris gallopavo
, which you may know as the domestic turkey.
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.