Category Archives: Technology

Data farm: MacArthur genius looks for food solutions from space

MacArthur genius using satellite data to get a space-eye view of our food system.

So, for example, Lobell and his collaborators have been able to show how global warming is stunting major food crops. Depressing findings like this have a practical side: They show plant breeders and farmers the kind adaptations they need to be working on.

http://grist.org/food/data-farm-macarthur-genius-looks-for-food-solutions-from-space/

The Ancestral Values We Inherited: Protecting Indigenous Water, Land, and Culture in Mexico

Within our indigenous community of Xoxocotla, we continue to hold the ancestral values we inherited. It never crosses our mind to leave them behind. Because in daily life we are always in contact with nature, with our lands, with our water, with our air. We live in harmony with nature because we dont like the way that modernity is advancing, destroying our territory and our environment. We believe technological modernity is better named a death threat.We still watch our children chase the butterflies and the birds. We see the harmony between the crops and the land. Above all, we respect our water and we continue to perform ceremonies that give thanks for the water.

via The Ancestral Values We Inherited: Protecting Indigenous Water, Land, and Culture in Mexico.

One weird trick to fix farms forever

As always I’m skeptical of silver bullets, but mimicing Mother Nature is not a silver bullet. It’s a complex interaction of diverse species and cycling nutrients the way the earth was made (or has evolved) to. It’s only a “weird trick” because we’ve done it the wrong way for so long.

“Our cover crops work together like a community – you have several people helping instead of one, and if one slows down, the others kind of pick it up,” he says. “We’re trying to mimic Mother Nature.” Cover crops have helped Brandt slash his use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. Half of his corn and soy crop is flourishing without any of either; the other half has gotten much lower applications of those pricey additives than what crop consultants around here recommend.

But Brandt’s not trying to go organic – he prefers the flexibility of being able to use conventional inputs in a pinch. He refuses, however, to compromise on one thing: tilling. Brandt never, ever tills his soil. Ripping the soil up with steel blades creates a nice, clean, weed-free bed for seeds, but it also disturbs soil microbiota and leaves dirt vulnerable to erosion. The promise of no-till, cover-crop farming is that it not only can reduce agrichemical use, but also help keep the heartland churning out food – even as extreme weather events like drought and floods become ever more common.

One weird trick to fix farms forever.

David Roberts’ top 20.5 parting insights

David Roberts has done a masterful job in summing up the state of affairs as regards climate change and public policy. Not sure if I agree with every point, but it’s impressive to be so succinct and insightful through a medium such as Twitter. Hope he has a good year off.

Here are my favorites:

4. Climate adaptation is much more expensive than mitigation. The more we spend now, the less we’ll spend overall.

5. Much more “big government” will be required to adapt to a warming world than is required to reduce carbon emissions.

6. The choice, then, is bigger, more expensive gov’t now or MUCH bigger, MUCH more expensive gov’t later. There is no third choice.

8. Climate policy is about pulling future costs & benefits into today’s economy, by hook or by crook.

17.5 Social & economic innovations are every bit as important as technological innovations.

19. You cannot always know how or when, but every act of good will matters. “What is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

20. If your ideology is serving to justify being unkind or uncaring, you are doing it wrong.

David Roberts’ top 20.5 parting insights | Grist.