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.
Years ago, I used to party with some folks from Centerville, Virgina's Cox Farms, a well-known and well-loved family farm, produce market, and host of an amazing annual Fall Festival. I found them a bright, creative, and fun-loving gaggle of humans who were extremely passionate about food production and building community around food. There was always a sense of mirth and mischief about them, too. Back in the 80s, their T-shirts and bumper stickers read: "You can't lick Cox for fresh produce" and (IIRC) featured a cartoon of a picker holding a basket full of phallic-looking vegetables. They've also displayed messages like: "Dad loves Cox, too!" (for Father's Day) and "We're so excited, we wet our plants!"
No stranger to the negative reaction of their provocative signage, the Cox farmers have created a new round of controversy with their latest series of signs taking a stand against white supremacy and Islamophobia. The response they posted on Facebook is wonderful. It's astonishing that speaking out against white supremacy would be a controversial position, but hey, not here in The Upside Down. Here is their response to the naysayers in the community:
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Our little roadside signs have power. Most of the time, they let folks know that our hanging baskets are on sale, that today’s sweet corn is the best ever, that Santa will be at the market this weekend, or that the Fall Festival will be closed due to rain. During the off-season, sometimes we utilize them differently. Sometimes, we try to offer a smile on a daily commute.
This NASA photo taken from the International Space Station shows crop circles in southwest Egypt's Sahara Desert. The crops thrive in the middle of the desert thanks to either secret alien technology or the amazing underground Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System that covers two million square kilometers. From the NASA Earth Observatory:
The crop circles are a result of center-pivot irrigation, an efficient method for water conservation in agriculture. Groundwater from the Nubian aquifer is drawn up from wells in the center of the circles, and it is sprayed or dripped out of long, rotating pipes that pivot around the center.
Most of the crops pictured here are likely potatoes (darker green circles), wheat (lighter brown circles), or medicinal and aromatic plants such as chamomile. The light, tan-colored crop circles likely have undergone controlled burning to remove excess plant matter and essentially clean up the land for the next crop.
Japanese researchers demonstrated how a tiny remote-controlled drone could help bees pollinate flowers in areas where bees populations have been reduced due to pesticides, climate change, and other factors. Eijiro Myako and his colleagues at the Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology hope that eventually robotic bees could handle their share of the work autonomously. From New Scientist:
The manually controlled drone is 4 centimetres wide and weighs 15 grams. The bottom is covered in horsehair coated in a special sticky gel. When the drone flies onto a flower, pollen grains stick lightly to the gel, then rub off on the next flower visited.
In experiments, the drone was able to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies (Lilium japonicum). Moreover, the soft, flexible animal hairs did not damage the stamens or pistils when the drone landed on the flowers...
“We hope this will help to counter the problem of bee declines,” says Miyako. “But importantly, bees and drones should be used together.”
Today we go to a future where animal products are banned. It’s one that lots of listeners have asked for so here you go. We talk about what happens to the land, the animals and the humans in this equation.
In this episode we discuss the arguments in favor and against banning meat. How does that impact culture? Why should we do it? Does it help or hurt the environment? Can you really grow meat in a lab? And is that meat vegan?
The FarmBot Genesis is an open-source robot gardener for home food production. You design your mini-farm with their app and then the Raspberry Pi-powered robot handles the rest, from planting to watering, weeding to harvesting. The FarmBot Genesis sounds like the evolutionary descendant of Ken Goldberg and Joseph Santarromana's groundbreaking 1994 telerobotic artwork, the TeleGarden:
Hubba Hubba. Read the rest
The New York State Department of Health is selecting companies that may be given license to grow weed on farmland in Bethel, New York adjacent to the site of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Read the rest
Joe sez, "There's a new FDA rule that will make it nearly make it financially impossible for small craft brewers to give their grain away to farmers for animal feed. I work for a small brewery and all of us there are very upset about this and the general disregard for sustainability. At the end if the article linked there's direct FDA links that cover their proposal."
Leftover brewing grains have been fed to livestock since the dawn of agriculture, so this is a pretty radical shift. The proposed new requirements for animal feed handling stipulate that the feed has to be dried, analyzed and packaged before being donated to farmers (the spent grains are generally given away at the end of the brewing process), at substantial expense.
It's clear that food safety is important, but I'm not convinced that the stringency of this rule is commensurate with the risk. Read the rest