Obliterating Weeds with Grit

weed-blaster

Source: modernfarmer.com

Herbicides are, unfortunately, a necessary product for most industrial farms, but given the rise in organic farming and the growing number of weeds becoming immune to the chemical poisons, other options have to be considered. Frank Forcella, a USDA agronomist, first had an idea to use apricot pits, considered an “agricultural residue,” as a weed killer when ground up with other waste and inserted in a sand blaster. He turned to his colleague Dean Peterson and together they bought a cheap sand blaster and started some simple experiments in a greenhouse.

Their initial work involved growing weeds next to a corn plant; when the corn was about six inches tall and the weed was about one to three inches tall, the researchers blasted both with a split-second application of grit.

It turned out that only the weeds got hurt. In fact, they vanished, while the corn plant was fine. This prompted a field experiment in 2012 with a bigger sand blaster mounted on an ATV. While Peterson drove, Forcella followed, crouched over with the sand blaster nozzle, blasting pigweed and other pesky sprouts.

Forcella’s “silly” idea turned into a feasible and successful solution for killing weeds.
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The Adapters to Climate Change

field-notes-bangladesh-adapt-676-1

Bouyant fields made of plants and manure can support crops in Bangladesh. Source: National Geographic

Climate change is a tough reality, but in spite of its devastating impacts on the natural environment, there are people who are drawing from their ingenuity to find alternative farming methods in the affected surroundings. Alezé Carrère, a National Geographic grantee, is on a journey to study the people and communities that are adapting to climate change, and she and a film crew are documenting cases into a video series called Adaptation.

[In 2012 Carrère] learned of a group of farmers in Madagascar who were figuring out how to farm in fields eroded by deforestation and heavy rains. Instead of depending on development aid to reforest washed-out areas, the farmers adapted. Soon they began to prefer farming in the eroded gullies, which became rich with water and nutrients.

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The Showerhead That’s Ruling the Internet

This shower head Is blowing up on Kickstarter thanks in part to Apple's Tim Cook and Alphabet's Eric Schmidt. PHOTO: Nebia

This shower head Is blowing up on Kickstarter thanks in part to Apple’s Tim Cook and Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt. PHOTO: Nebia

What does it take to have the World Wide Web interested in you? And interested is putting it lightly, when we are talking a Kickstarter project that crossed its goal of $100,000 and how, in less than 8 hours. Not to forget having Tim Cook of Apple and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet back you.Well, it takes a showerhead. An extraordinary one at that. One that promises to reduce wastage of water in the shower by 70%, is iconic in design, and has its heart set on revolutionizing the use of water in developing markets. Nebia is here.

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Sri Lanka Says Hello to Project Loon

In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand (AP Photo/Jon Shenk)

In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand (AP Photo/Jon Shenk)

Technology juggernaut Google changed the way we search with its proprietary algorithims. But the company is constantly working on technologically impressive, forward-leaning projects that have the promise to push broadscale change for billions of people around the world. Project Fi, self-driven vehicles, the delivery system named Project Wing and the three-dimensional mapping system named Project Tango later, Project Loon is here.

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Innovating on the Ocean Bed

It's important that mercury pollution be contained at the site of spillage, especially oceans, to prevent it from travelling through the food chain. PHOTO: Wikipedia

It’s important that mercury pollution be contained, especially in oceans, to prevent the chemical from travelling through the food chain. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Mercury is a potent toxin that can accumulate to high concentrations in fish, posing a health risk to people who eat large, predatory marine fish such as swordfish and tuna. In the open ocean, the principal source of mercury is atmospheric deposition from human activities, especially emissions from coal-fired power plants and artisanal gold mining. Mercury concentrations in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna are increasing at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year, according to a new University of Michigan-led study that suggests rising atmospheric levels of the toxin are to blame. And there’s a ‘fake’ solution at hand.

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A Backyard Solution to Oil Spills

Waste like human hair, sawdust and bird feathers can clean oil spills from water. PHOTO:  Nation of Change

Waste like human hair, sawdust and bird feathers can clean oil spills from water. PHOTO: Nation of Change

Biosorption is a property of certain types of inactive, dead, microbial biomass to bind and concentrate heavy metals from even very dilute aqueous solutions. And Nikhilesh Das discovered just this, at the age of 13, demonstrating reuse and effective waste management. Scalable models of these and we may just have a potent option to deal with oil spills that destroy marine ecosystems for years together.

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Coca-Cola Thinking Plants

BUSINESS THE BITE Coca-Cola debuts 100% plant-based bottle as companies go eco-friendly (+video)  csmonitor icon Latest News MORE EMAIL Subscribe Coca-Cola has unveiled a bottle made entirely of plant-based materials. The new Coke bottle is the latest sign of the company's growing shift toward more environmentally friendly practices. By Ellen Meyers, Staff writer JUNE 4, 2015 About video ads Coca-Cola to release plant-based recyclable bottles WSBTV - Atlanta Coca-Cola to release plant-based recyclable bottles Coca-Cola debuted an updated version of its PlantBottle, its first bottle made from 100 percent plant materials at the Expo Milan 2015 on Wednesday. The Atlanta-based beverage giant did not specify when the 100 percent plant-based bottles would be available to consumers. However, the company said it wants its current version of its PlantBottle, made of 30 percent plant-based materials, to be used in all of its products by 2020. “Our vision was to maximize game-changing technology, using responsibly sourced plant-based materials to create the globe’s first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials,” Nancy Quan, the company’s global research and development officer, said in a press release. Recommended: Who owns Gatorade: Coke or Pepsi? Take our 'parent company' quiz! Since the 2009 launch, Coca-Cola has distributed more than 35 billion bottles in nearly 40 countries using its current version of PlantBottle packaging, according to the release. The company estimates that the packaging helped save the equivalent annual emissions of more than 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE Who owns Gatorade: Coke or Pepsi? Take our 'parent company' quiz! PHOTOS OF THE DAY Photos of the day 06/16 In 2011, Coca-Cola licensed the technology for making PlantBottles to H.J. Heinz to use in its ketchup bottles. In 2013, Ford Motor Company said it plans to use the same material found in PlantBottle packaging in the fabric interior in certain test models of the Fusion Energi hybrid sedan. Coca-Cola says the new bottles will be the world's first entirely plant-based PET bottles. PET, known as polyethylene terephthalate, is a plastic resin and the most common type of polyester, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). It was discovered and patented in England in 1941, but it was not until the late 1990s when more companies and manufacturers started to make and use PET containers for products. NAPCOR says PET is appealing for both consumers and manufacturers for its low weight, strength, and recyclability, and its use in packaging materials, like bottles, has ticked up over the past few years. However, PET has its drawbacks. It can be an expensive packaging material to produce, according to a 2004 report from the Recycling Operators of New Zealand. RONZ also found that “PET acts as a gas ‘sieve,’ slowly allowing oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. This means the shelf life of beverages can be limited by the reduction, over time, in carbonation and oxygen degradation of flavours.” In other words, the carbonation in soda could go flat faster.  In terms of recycling, quality and quantity of supplies are also still major concerns. For reclaimers – professional recycling centers – PET packaging can be harder to clean than other plastics, Reclaimers still reported high levels of contamination in PET containers in 2013, according to NAPCOR’s 2014 report on recycling activity for PET containers. That complication can mean less PET materials are actually reused. In fact, only 22.6 percent of recycled PET containers in the US went on to be used in other products.   NAPCOR also reported that domestic collection of PET containers in the US is growing, but it is not enough to meet current and potential demand from reclaimers. That's led them to import PET from places like Canada, Mexico, and Latin America. While PET recycling has a long way to go, Coca-Cola's latest move highlights a long withstanding trend: the importance of businesses being more envronmentally conscious

While PET recycling has a long way to go, Coca-Cola’s latest move highlights a long withstanding trend: the importance of businesses being more envronmentally conscious

Coca-Cola has unveiled a bottle made 30% of plant-based materials. The new Coke bottle is the latest sign of the company’s growing shift toward more environmentally friendly practices. Can it be sustained? That remains to be seen.

Since its introduction in 2009, PlantBottle packaging has been distributed in a variety of packaging sizes across water, sparkling, juice and tea beverage brands—from Coca-Cola to DASANI to Gold Peak. Today, PlantBottle packaging accounts for 30 percent of the Company’s packaging volume in North America and 7 percent globally, some 6 billion bottles annually, making The Coca-Cola Company a large bioplastics end user.  In 2011, the company licensed PlantBottle Technology to H.J. Heinz for use in its ketchup bottles. In 2013, Ford Motor Company announced plans to use the same renewable material found in PlantBottle packaging in the fabric interior in certain test models of the Fusion Energi hybrid sedan. And in 2014, the first reusable, fully recyclable plastic cup made with PlantBottle Technology rolled out in SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks across the United States. More.

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Playing by the Sun

A general view of the inside of M. Chinnaswamy Stadium cricket stadium. PHOTO: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

A general view of the inside of M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. PHOTO: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Well, nothing unites all of India like a good game of cricket. And when the legendary game takes a green turn for the better at one of the country’s premier cricketing grounds, it makes news. The heart of the matter: The M Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bengaluru is the only solar-powered cricketing ground in the entire world.  Continue reading

Schneider Electric: Saving Energy across Multiple Cultures

Last week in my Facilities Management course at the Cornell Hotel School, Al Nels, Global Account Manager for Marriott from Schneider Electric, presented in class as a guest speaker. His presentation explored the energy-saving capabilities of various systems developed by Schneider Electric, as well as simple tips that hotels often overlook. Among the many insights Nels shared, one in particular stood out to me: the cultural divide between American and European hotel guests—and the steps that Schneider is taking in order to save energy in both areas of the world.

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