You can’t outproduce our environment

October 6, 2018 by  
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Or, how this farmer chose regenerative agriculture over conventional growing.

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You can’t outproduce our environment

A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

September 26, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based design practice BIAS Architects recently completed “Greenhouse as a Home,” an experimental installation that reinterprets the living areas of a traditional house as five climatic zones. Created for the 2018 Taoyuan Green Expo, the project invited the public to experience the buildings with all five senses, from feeling the climatic differences to eating fresh vegetables hydroponically grown in the installation. Greenhouse as a Home consists of five independent yet interconnected steel grid structures with varying heights and climates ranging from 16 to 29 degrees Celsius (61 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit). Greenhouse as a Home was developed to promote a “culture of sustainability” with its interactive programmatic zones conducive to education. “Here, the human living space is intertwined with that of the plants and organized according to climatic zones, rather than traditional architectural areas,” the architects explained. “ Greenhouses building materials and structures are arranged to separate climatic areas, while the distribution of water and energy flows is technologically managed. The roof is covered with various combinations of agricultural gauzes and plastic films to control lighting and solar radiation.” The experimental project is divided into five structures: the Fern Living Room, Farm Dining, Photosynthesis Kitchen, Sun Garden and Theater of Mushroom. A defined walking path links the different volumes. The first zone visitors experience is the Fern Living Room, a shadowy and humid space dressed with potted ferns hung from the ceiling. The next room, Farm Dining, is slightly hotter and less humid and serves as the main activity zone organized around a large table. Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food A vertical hydroponic farm is located in the Photosynthesis Kitchen, the middle zone where fresh vegetables are picked daily and cooked in the demonstration kitchen. The fourth zone, the Sun Garden, is the hottest and driest room of all and is used to desiccate vegetables. The fifth and final zone, the Theater of Mushroom, immerses visitors into a dark, highly humid environment with the coolest temperatures in the entire installation; the multisensory space is complemented by light and sound performances. + BIAS Architects Images by Rockburger

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

Soil-Savvy Advice for Perky Plants and Tasty Veggies

June 12, 2018 by  
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If you want your yard to yield succulent vegetables, spectacular flowers, … The post Soil-Savvy Advice for Perky Plants and Tasty Veggies appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Soil-Savvy Advice for Perky Plants and Tasty Veggies

Standing our ground by investing in our soil

May 26, 2018 by  
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This is a call to farms — to reconnect to one another and places where we live, all the way down to local food systems and the soil.

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Standing our ground by investing in our soil

California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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California is turning to dirt to help in the fight against climate change . The state’s  Healthy Soils Initiative draws on farming and land management techniques to build organic soil matter. The goal is to slash  greenhouse gas emissions and sequester more carbon . Multiple state departments and agencies, led by the state’s  Department of Food and Agriculture , are utilizing money from California’s  cap-and-trade program to target soil in the battle against climate change. According to the initiative’s website , around 75 percent “of the carbon pool on land” is found in soils, and about one quarter of the world’s  biodiversity  resides in soil. The initiative’s website quoted Governor Jerry Brown as saying, “As the leading agricultural state in the nation, it is important for California’s soils to be sustainable and resilient to climate change.” Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough How will the state boost soil health ? A 2016 action plan  pointed to agricultural practices like “planting cover crops, reducing tillage, retaining crop residue, managing grazing and adding compost .” Grist used farmer Doug Lo, who cultivates almond orchards, as an example. California is giving Lo $50,000 to try different techniques, such as putting composted manure around the trees and planting clover between the trunks as ground cover. In theory, the farming practices could help the soil absorb 1,088 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere yearly. “We’re trying to sequester some carbon,” Lo told Grist. “It should also help with the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the flowers in the cover crop should feed bees after the almond bloom is over.” + California Healthy Soils Initiative Via Grist Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

How farming with rocks could improve global food security

February 20, 2018 by  
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Scientists at the University of Sheffield have learned that farming with crushed silicate rocks mixed into the soil could improve global food security, increase crop yields, promote soil health, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “Human societies have long known that volcanic plains are fertile, ideal places for growing crops without adverse human health effects,” study lead author David Beerling told Phys.org , “but until now there has been little consideration for how adding further rocks to soils might capture carbon.” As the rocks slowly dissolve in the soil, they release nutrients while absorbing carbon dioxide. Most importantly, crushed silicate rocks can be amended into existing farmland, offering a non-disruptive, less intensive carbon capture service. The research published in the journal Nature Plants  could have a dramatic applied impact on farming throughout the world. “This study has transformed how we think about managing our croplands for climate, food and soil security,” said Beerling. “It helps move the debate forward for an under-researched strategy of CO2 removal from the atmosphere – enhanced rock weathering – and highlights supplementary benefits for food and soils .” Through enhanced rock weathering, carbon absorption can be achieved without competing for additional land and water. The crushed rock method also reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides and decreases the cost of food production. Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food Farming with crushed silicate rocks offers a simple but powerful action to improve environmental health. “The magnitude of future climate change could be moderated by immediately reducing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere as a result of energy generation,” explained Beerling. “Adopting strategies like this new research that actively remove CO2 from it can have a massive impact and be adapted very quickly.” Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1)  

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How farming with rocks could improve global food security

Hedgehog highways make London friendlier for the adorable spiny mammals

February 20, 2018 by  
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Urban areas don’t tend to be too kind for hedgehogs . As they’re declining in Britain , some people are trying to help. Enter Michel Birkenwald , a jeweler Atlas Obscura described as “one of London’s most enthusiastic engineers of infrastructure for animals .” Birkenwald builds hedgehog highways — and they’re pretty darn adorable. Hedgehogs have declined by around 50 percent in the UK and by one third in urban areas, according to Emily Wilson of hedgehog advocacy group Hedgehog Street . The organization is working to spur people towards saving the small spiny mammals — and they say the most crucial action people can take is make sure the animals can pass through their gardens . Hedgehogs travel about one mile each night to seek out a mate or food, but fences stop them, and Hedgehog Street said our walls becoming more secure is one of the main reasons for hedgehog decline. Related: This sweet animation aims to help save the British hedgehog Successful day yesterday 15 new holes opened up @barneshedgehogs #richmond #london #uk #wildlife A post shared by Barnes hedgehogs (@barneshedgehogs) on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:59pm PST Birkenwald describes himself as “just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals” to Atlas Obscura. He started Barnes Hedgehogs around four years ago, to drill the hedgehog crossings — small holes in walls around the size of a CD — for free. It can take around an hour to drill the passageways in sturdy Victorian bricks in London. First hole of the day drilled by Robin senior technical officer @barneshedgehogs sponsored by Zac Goldsmith MP #richmond #uk #london A post shared by Barnes hedgehogs (@barneshedgehogs) on Feb 18, 2018 at 1:59am PST Other people want to help out too – at least 47,544, in fact. Those are the people who have registered with Hedgehog Street to become Hedgehog Champions, ambassadors for the little mammals in their areas. The organization has other information on how you can help hedgehogs here . This Sunday @barneshedgehogs we are drilling approx 20 holes in timber and brick walls sponsored by Zac Goldsmith MP , get your garden ready for spring and cut a hole in your fences for our favourite mammal #wildlife #richmond #london #uk #spring A post shared by Barnes hedgehogs (@barneshedgehogs) on Feb 13, 2018 at 1:36am PST Birkenwald marks the crossings with small Hedgehog Highway signs that are available through the Hedgehog Street website ; the signs are comprised of recycled plastic and cost about £3, or just over $4, each. + Barnes Hedgehogs + Hedgehog Street + Hedgehog Street Hedgehog Highways Via Atlas Obscura Image via Pixabay

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Hedgehog highways make London friendlier for the adorable spiny mammals

New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

February 13, 2018 by  
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Antibiotic resistance threatens humanity even as superbugs are discovered in places like pig farms . But a recent discovery offers new hope. A Rockefeller University -led team of scientists found a new family of antibiotics in dirt, the BBC reported . The researchers hope the natural compounds could be used to fight infections that are difficult to treat. 12 scientists discovered malacidins, compounds which, based on tests, kill multiple bacterial diseases now resistant to most of our existing antibiotics. That includes the superbug MRSA . They utilized a gene sequencing technique to scrutinize over 1,000 soil samples that came from around America to find the new antibiotic family. The BBC said soil teems with millions of microorganisms that produce compounds that could be potentially therapeutic or serve as new antibiotics. Related: Antibiotic resistant bugs could kill 10 million people each year by 2050 Malacidins were present in many of the samples, suggesting it could be an important find. According to the BBC, the scientists gave rats MRSA and then tested malacidins; the compound eradicated the infection in skin wounds. They’re now working to boost the drug’s effectiveness so that perhaps it could be developed into a treatment for humans – but that could take a while. Rockefeller University scientist Sean Brady told the BBC, “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.” Antibiotic Research UK professor Colin Garner, who was not part of the research team, said the find is good news but we really need antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria . These new compounds might tackle gram-positive infections like MRSA, but “our concern are the so called gram-negative bacteria which are difficult to treat and where resistance is on the increase.” The journal Nature Microbiology published the research online yesterday. Scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School contributed. Via the BBC Images via Pixabay and Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

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How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study

December 19, 2017 by  
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It turns out mushrooms aren’t just great to eat, but played an essential role in creating an atmosphere suitable for animal life, according to a new study. The earliest plants to dwell on land did not have well developed roots or vascular systems. Fungi, among the earliest colonizers of land, helped facilitate the transfer of phosphorus from rocky soil to the primitive plants , which required the mineral to photosynthesize. “The results of including data on fungal interactions present a significant advance in our understanding of Earth’s early development,” said Benjamin Mills, co-author of a report on the research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B . “Our work clearly shows the importance of fungi in the creation of an oxygenated atmosphere.” The recent research shines a light on a process that remains mysterious, even in modern times. “Photosynthesis by land plants is ultimately responsible for about half of the oxygen generation on Earth, and requires phosphorus, but we currently have a poor understanding of how the global supply of this nutrient to plants works,” said Mills. Without fungi helping them acquire their necessary phosphorus, the earliest land plants would not have been able to survive. The oldest fossil of a land-living organism is of a fungi species, one of many which moved on land and helped to break down the rocky mantle into soil, enabling plants with roots to more easily extract their minerals . Related: Paris has a new underground – a massive farm for mushrooms and veggies To test fungi’s symbiotic relationship with early plants, a research team at the University of Leeds incorporated computer modeling and laboratory experiments which involved ancient species of fungus that still endure today. The researchers observed the differing rates at which different species of fungi exchanged phosphorus and carbon, which indicated how quickly plants might have produced oxygen. “We used a computer model to simulate what might have happened to the climate throughout the Palaeozoic era if the different types of early plant-fungal symbioses were included in the global phosphorus and carbon cycles,” said Katie Field, study co-author and plant biologist. “We found the effect was potentially dramatic, with the differences in plant-fungal carbon-for-nutrient exchange greatly altering Earth’s climate through plant-powered drawdown of CO2 for photosynthesis , substantially changing the timing of the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere.” Via Science Alert Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study

Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels

December 19, 2017 by  
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When he’s not putting out fires in Edmonton, Canada, firefighter Steve has managed to find time to build an Earthship-inspired tiny home on wheels. The 140-square-foot home , which can easily go off-grid, has all the comforts of a traditional residence – including a queen size bed, a deck and even a mini vertical herb garden in the kitchen. And of course, it was built to meet building codes for fire safety. Steve built his little shelter after taking a one-year sabbatical, during which time he traveled via campervan , volunteering on many tiny ship builds along the way. Having honed his building skills, he came back to Edmonton to construct his own earthship-inspired tiny home. Located in a the backyard of a home that he rents out, the compact dwelling was recently featured by Living Big in a Tiny House . Related: Architect builds a tiny studio in his backyard to be closer to his child The entrance to Steve’s home is via an open-air wooden deck that’s a perfect space for reading or bbq-ing. The interior living space is bordered with seating and storage cubbies on the wall. This main room doubles as the bedroom when the pull-out queen bed that’s hidden under the kitchen platform is rolled out. The kitchen is definitely designed for someone who has a love of all things culinary. The L-shaped layout makes for an ultra-efficient space and easy movement. A wall of vertical shelving has ample space for basic condiments as well as space to grow herbs , although Steve admit to killing most of them. The floor of the tiny home is brick, which was Steve’s attempt at creating a high thermal mass for passive heating. However, he’s planning to replace the flooring with wooden panels because the brick’s heat isn’t faring well against the cold Canadian winters. However, the home is still well-heated thanks to the three different heating options: woodstove, propane heater or electric patio heater. During the design process, Steve wanted to make the home as off-grid as possible. Now, it sits in the backyard and uses the utilities from the main house, but the idea was to have a roaming independent space. The main structure is built on wheels and hot water is provided by a propane-powered water heater. For extra sustainability, there is an incinerating toilet in the bathroom. When asked about his inspiration to build the tiny home , the firefighter explained it’s all about financial practicality, “For me, it was how the economics of it make sense. I rent the big house out and the tenants pay the mortgage, so by me staying in the small house in the backyard, I’m living a mortgage-free lifestyle right now, immediately, while I’m still collecting equity in the main house. So that makes sense to me and that’s a good situation to be in.” Via Treehugger Video and images via Living Big in a Tiny House

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