The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved the growing of a new kind of cotton plant that's been genetically modified to be edible. The toxic chemical gossypol in the plant usually makes the cotton dangerous for humans to eat. Texas A&M biotechnologist Keerti Rathore and colleagues genetically stopped the production of gossypol in the cottonseed while not interfering with it elsewhere in the plant where it acts as a natural insecticide. From Reuters:
“To me, personally, it tastes somewhat like chickpea and it could easily be used to make a tasty hummus,” Rathore said of gossypol-free cottonseed.
After cottonseed oil, which can be used for cooking, is extracted, the remaining high-protein meal from the new cotton plant can find many uses, Rathore said.
It can be turned into flour for use in breads, tortillas and other baked goods and used in protein bars, while whole cottonseed kernels, roasted and salted, can be consumed as a snack or to create a peanut butter type of paste, Rathore added.
(via Daily Grail)
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Over the next century, higher temperatures and an increased number of droughts will hit the global barley supply, pushing beer prices way up. University of East Anglia economist Dabo Guan and his colleagues developed multiple scenarios based on several climate and economic models. Nature:
The researchers then simulated the effect of these droughts and heat waves on barley production by using software to model crop growth and yield on the basis of weather and other variables.
They found that, globally, this extreme weather would reduce barley yield by between 3% and 17%. Some countries fared better than others: tropical areas such as Central and South America were hit badly, but crop yields actually increased in certain temperate areas, including northern China and the United States. Some areas of those countries saw yield increases of up to 90% — but this was not enough to offset the global decrease.
Finally, Guan and his colleagues fed these changes in barley yield into an existing economic model that can account for changes in supply and demand in the global market. This enabled them to look at how reduced barley production would affect pricing and consumption of beer in countries, as well as trade between nations.
In the worst-case scenario, the reduced barley supply worldwide would result in a 16% decrease in global beer consumption in the years of extreme-weather events. Prices would, on average, double...
One goal of the research, Guan says, was to make tangible how "climate change will impact people’s lifestyle... Read the rest
After three years of legal weed, Oregon has grown 1.1 million pounds, approximately three times what residents buy in a year. From The Guardian:
The result? Prices are dropping to unprecedented lows in auction houses and on dispensary counters across the state.
Wholesale sun-grown weed fell from $1,500 a pound last summer to as low as $700 by mid-October. On store shelves, that means the price of sun-grown flower has been sliced in half to those four-buck grams.
For Oregon customers, this is a bonanza. A gram of the beloved Girl Scout Cookies strain now sells for little more than two boxes of actual Girl Scout cookies.
But it has left growers and sellers with a high-cost product that’s a financial loser. And a new feeling has descended on the once-confident Oregon cannabis industry: panic.
“The business has been up and down and up and down,” says Don Morse, who closed his Human Collective II dispensary in south-west Portland four months ago. “But in a lot of ways it has just been down and down for dispensaries.”
"How do you move mountains of unwanted weed?" (The Guardian via Next Draft) Read the rest
Ordinary scarecrows cower in fear at the Super Monster Wolf, an animatronic beast invented to protect rice and chestnut crops from wild boar. The Super Monster Wolf has proven its value during trails near Kisarazu City in Japan. When an animal approaches, sensors on the Monster Wolf trigger its creepy eyes and hellish howl. From BBC News:
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The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives say that crop losses have noticeably decreased in areas where the Super Monster Wolf has been present. Beforehand, farmers around Kisarazu were resigned to giving up at least part of their crops to wild boar every year.
Speaking to the Chiba Nippo news website, Chihiko Umezawa of the agricultural cooperative says that the device has an effective radius of about one kilometre, suggesting it is more effective than an electric fence.
Now, the robot wolf is going into mass production, with units costing about 514,000 yen ($4,840; £3,480) each, but there are options for farmers to pay a far cheaper monthly lease on a wolf instead.
California is the United States agricultural juggernaut. Produce from California feeds the world and drives one of the largest economies on the planet. A side-effect of Trump's beloved, family destroying ICE raids is a massive labor shortage.
Fruit rots on the vine. Children lose their parents.
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Their absence threatens segments of the largest state economy, including retailers, restaurants and the Central Valley’s $47 billion agricultural industry, which provides more than half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables in the country. That broad, 450-mile swath of California yields an eighth of the country’s agricultural output.
The farm industry is already struggling to find workers like Maria’s husband. More than 55 percent of 762 farmers and ranchers surveyed in a California Farm Bureau Federation report from October 2017 said half of their land continues to go unattended because of an ongoing labor shortage directly related to U.S. immigration policy.
Of the state’s more than 2 million farm laborers, 1.5 million are undocumented, according to Tom Nassif, President of the Western Growers Association, a 92-year-old industry group representing farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Although Nassif and the association have supported Trump since the early days of his campaign, he says the raids and decades-old immigration policy for farm workers are harming the industry and state economy.
Lufa Farms is a commercial rooftop greenhouse built in 2010, one of three such gardens that help feed 2% of Montreal. Read the rest
John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually "license" them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors' software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications. Read the rest
There's really nothing not to love about vertical farms -- multi-story hydroponic operations, usually sited in dense urban areas -- they borrow their best tech from the space program, they're water-conserving, they don't have runoff, they're energy efficient, and they're super land-efficient, meaning we don't need to turn forests or wetlands into fields. Read the rest
For years, entomologist Brandon Hopkins has argued for the establishment of a germplasm repository for cryopreservation of honey bee semen. Unfortunately, bee semen us very hard to collect and even harder to preserve, but Hopkins found better ways to extract and store their genetic material. Read the rest
Drone Deploy is an analytics and automation package that uses drones to create accurate 3D terrain and architectural models. Read the rest
Right now, in Ireland, it's silage time.
Many agriculture-heavy states have passed laws criminalizing recording videos of animal cruelty and illegal workplace and food hygiene practices, but one judge in Idaho isn't having any of it. Read the rest
Ifixit's Kyle Wiens writes about the state of modern farm equipment, "black boxes outfitted with harvesting blades," whose diagnostic modes are jealously guarded, legally protected trade secrets, meaning that the baling-wire spirit of the American farm has been made subservient to the needs of multinational companies' greedy desire to control the repair and parts markets. Read the rest
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has threatened the Duluth library's free seed-sharing program because it doesn't conform to the seed-distribution rules laid out for big agribusinesses. Read the rest
How do you produce enough hardened bird-spit structures to feed a growing demand for one of the most expensive dishes in the world? Rowan Hooper visits the bird's nest soup farm. Read the rest
In Idaho, the dairy industry has successfully lobbied lawmakers to propose a new law that would make it a crime for animal rights advocates or journalists to lie about their backgrounds to applications at dairy farms, for the purpose of documenting criminal activity or animal abuse.
Striking back at this proposed legislation that would curb free speech, Los Angeles-based nonprofit Mercy for Animals today released video of a dairy worker sexually abusing a cow at Dry Creek Dairy (owned by Bettencourt Dairies) in Idaho. Read the rest
The average Iowa farm has the potential to feed 14 people per acre, writes Jon Foley at Ensia. But planted with nothing but corn — and with almost all of that corn going to ethanol production and the feeding of animals — the same land can only feed 3 people per acre. Corn isn't a bad plant. But the corn system is a big problem. Read the rest