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Desert Farm Grows 17,000 Tons of Food without Soil, Pesticides, Fossil Fuels or Groundwater

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The world’s first farm to use seawater and sunlight to grow food in the middle of a desert just opened.

Using coconut husks, 23,000 mirrors to reflect solar power, and desalinated water, Sundrop Farms situated in Port Augusta – a desert area in Australian – works agricultural voodoo. Without resorting to pesticides, needing to rely on rainfall, or turning to fossil fuels to power their 20-hectare farm, their system is proving to be a sustainable show-boat for growing food in new ways.

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As populations rise, the global demand for food will rise also. Although food waste needs to be curbed, since roughly one-third of all food produce globally every year is thrown out, costing roughly $680 billion dollars to industrialized nations, and $315 billion to emerging nations, there are ways we can create more food sustainably without taxing the world’s resources.

The three biggest hurdles to growing pesticide-free food for most farmers are water, land, and energy. By breaking our dependence on these finite resources, along with respecting them along with traditional farming practices, more food can be grown for more people.

Climate change, biotech company land grabs, drought, floods, and pestilence are no longer a concern for innovative farmers, though. Sundrop’s ability to carry on despite extreme weather was already demonstrated just weeks ago a once-in-50-year storm wreaked havoc in South Australia. Sundrop Farms was able to take the brunt of high winds and continue operations despite a massive blackout that crippled much of the area.

By treating brackish water from Spencer Gulf and reusing it in a massive greenhouse lined with cardboard, Sundrop avoids having to rely on groundwater. Drought-devastated California farmers recently used 15 gallons of water to grow a tiny handful of almonds, and water-use like this is not uncommon in traditional farming.

Sundrop also grows hydroponically which reduces the overall need for water while making the need for soil a moot point. Utilizing a bevy of mirrors to redirect the desert sun, all the farm needs is sunlight and some seawater to grow 17,000 metric tons of food every year.

The company also uses no chemical fertilizers, and no pesticides, as it employs beneficial bugs to destroy the pests which could harm the crops. They grow only non-GMO produce, and supply grocery stores in Australia. About 13 percent of Australia’s market share, and will be sold at a fixed price for 10 years exclusively at Coles Supermarkets.

“Because we do everything in a controlled environment, we know what our input costs are, and we’re doing everything on a renewable basis, we can provide real consistency of supply and a higher quality product at a better price year ’round,” Philipp Saumweber, chairman and CEO of Sundrop Farms, said.

As if this weren’t jaw-dropping enough, the farm has a year-round growing season by heating the greenhouse in winter with 39 megawatts of clean energy gained from solar power.

Though the farm cost $200 million to build, the entrepreneurs who started it think it was worth the long-term investment, since they’ll never have to deal with fossil fuels. Sundrop says that “they are breaking farming’s dependence on finite resources.”

In addition to the Australian Farm, a Tennessee farm is in the works in the US, and they just completed building their first European farm in Portugal.

This farm proves, once again, that the biotech-promoted myth of needing genetically modified food and millions of pounds of carcinogenic pesticide to grow them to feed the population, is indeed a fabrication. From smaller, organic farms practicing age-old techniques to increase yield, to this farm using the latest and greatest technology, we truly don’t need anything more than some elbow grease and imagination to feed everyone healthy, sustainable food.

Image credit: www.ruralcoproperty.com.au

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News

Chinese Military Satellite Smashed by Russian Rocket in “Major Confirmed Orbital Collision”

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In an incident that is likely illustrative of things to come, Chinese military satellite 1-02 was smashed after it appears to have collided into the debris from a disintegrating Russian rocket.

The collision, which occurred earlier this year, shows the increasing danger of space junk such as satellite parts and other miscellaneous jetsam littering the Earth’s orbit. An estimated 8,000 metric tons of space debris pose the risk of destroying functional equipment such as weather forecasting systems, telecoms and GPS systems – and even manned space travel missions – if the problem isn’t reined in.

The fate of the Chinese satellite was uncovered by Harvard astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.

The breakup of Yunhai 1-02 was initially reported by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (18SPCS). However, it wasn’t until recently that McDowell found out what caused the breakup.

The astrophysicist soon found that it was destroyed by space junk that originated from a Russian Zenit-2 rocket that had launched a spy satellite in 1996. On Aug. 14, McDowell found a strange entry in a database on Space-Track.org: “Collided with satellite.”

 “This is a new kind of comment entry — haven’t seen such a comment for any other satellites before,” McDowell tweeted.

“A quick analysis of the TLEs show that Yunhai 1-02 (44547) and [the debris object] passed within 1 km of each other (so within the uncertainty of the TLEs) at 0741 UTC Mar 18, exactly when 18SPCS reports Yunhai broke up,” he added, noting that this “looks to be the first major confirmed orbital collision in a decade.”

However, the Yunhai satellite still remains functional and is transmitting radio signals, notes Space.com.

The incident shows the growing likelihood of such collisions in the high-traffic, littered near-Earth orbital zone.

“Collisions are proportional to the square of the number of things in orbit,” McDowell explained. “That is to say, if you have 10 times as many satellites, you’re going to get 100 times as many collisions.”

He added: “So, as the traffic density goes up, collisions are going to go from being a minor constituent of the space junk problem to being the major constituent. That’s just math.”

A worst-case scenario of such collisions is known as the “Kessler Syndrome,” and describes the possibility of one collision setting in motion a chain of collisions. Such a disaster was the premise of the 2013 film “Gravity.”

One hopes that things don’t reach that point.

In the meantime, however, there have been a number of initiatives meant to tackle the growing problem of space debris, such as the ELSA-d spacecraft launched in a demonstration mission earlier this year.

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Boston Dynamics Drops New Video Of 5-Foot Atlas Humanoid Robot Effortlessly Doing Parkour

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Robot maker Boston Dynamics has released new video of its two-legged Atlas robot effortlessly completing a parkour obstacle course, offering a new display of its humanoid machines’ unsettling repertoire.

In the video, a pair of Atlas robots can be seen leaping over large gaps, vaulting beams, and even performing backflips. The robot can even be seen jumping over a board while using its arm to remain steady.

While the display seems like anything but “free” running – as the original developers of parkour had envisioned – the routine does seem like an impressive, if terrifying, display of effective coding that took months to perfect, according to the Hyundai-owned robotics firm.

“It’s not the robot just magically deciding to do parkour, it’s kind of a choreographed routine, much like a skateboard video or a parkour video,” said Atlas control lead Benjamin Stephens.

See for yourself:

Unlike its robotic dog Spot, which controversially hit New York City streets last year before being pulled, Atlas isn’t a production robot. Instead, it’s a research model meant to see how far the limits of robotics can be pushed.

In the past, Boston Dynamics has displayed the robot’s feats with videos of Atlas jogging and even busting out some cool dance moves.

Team lead Scott Kuindersma said in a statement that in about two decades, we can expect to coexist with robots that move “with grace, reliability, and work alongside humans to enrich our lives.”

Until then, some of us will continue to reserve our right to feel a bit queasy about the prospect of people being chased down by these skilled free-running (and dancing) machines.

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Environment

South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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