environment
The US Grows the Most Productive Plants in the World, Says NASA

Remember learning about America's "amber waves of grain?" Probably not, you're from the UK, but over yonder it's a lyric from a well known patriotic song. As it turns out that the United States' bread basket—a.k.a., the Corn Belt—is even more productive than previously thought. In fact, during its growing season, it's the most productive land on Earth, according to new NASA data. Read More >>

science
This Synthetic Seaweed Stops Deadly Algae Blooms Before They Start

The potent synthetic fertilisers used in modern industrial farming are a double-edged sword. Sure, they help grow more robust, higher-yielding crops, but the nutrient-rich runoff from these farms can also help incite deadly algae blooms downstream. This new nanoscale filter from GE, however, prevents effluent fertiliser from ever reaching our delicate waterways. Read More >>

food
What Do Fertiliser, Omega-3 Pills, and Pig Feed Have in Common? A Fish

You have never seen a menhaden, but you have eaten one. Although no one sits down to a plate of these silvery, bug-eyed, foot-long fish at a seafood restaurant, menhaden travel through the human food chain mostly undetected in the bodies of other species, hidden in salmon, pork, onions, and many other foods. Read More >>

design
It's Like Squeezing Paint from a Goat

In the days before B&Q paint departments, people slathered colour onto their walls the old fashioned way: using a mixture of pigment, lime, and milk. Now, one Californian farm is reviving this ancient tradition with the help of its resident goat herds. Read More >>

science
Is Human Urine the Future of Fertiliser?

Among the things I found mortifying about my parents when I was a teenager was their habit of leaving buckets of urine in the bathroom. Instead of flushing all that phosphorous-nitrogen-rich liquid down the toilet, they saved it for our backyard vegetable garden. Urine as fertiliser has since become a hip idea among some eco-minded backyard farmers. Read More >>

japan
Brave People Are Building Futuristic Farms on Japan's Radioactive Soil

What does radioactive salad taste like? How about rice sprinkled with nuclear fallout? Well, if you're truly curious, consider taking your next vacation in Fukushima, where some intrepid farmers have begun the daunting task of farming the region's tainted soil. Read More >>

design
This Gorgeous Stained Glass Landscape Is Actually a Rice Field

Who knew growing rice on a mountain could be so beautiful? The Ailao Mountains in Yunnan, China, have been carved into thousands of gradual steps, each a paddy growing red rice. The rice terraces stretch out over some 400 square miles of mountains and valleys. Read More >>

animals
Why the Swiss Evacuate Their Cows by Helicopter

At first, it's kind of charming. Look how well the Swiss treat their cows! A helicopter is dispatched just to carry an injured bovine stuck in the mountains! It's not an uncommon sight in the Alps, either: in Switzerland, insurance that covers helicopter evacuation for your family also includes your cows. Read More >>

drones
Some Good Things Drones Can (Actually) Do

While everyone is freaking out about Amazon's plan to unleash an army of delivery drones on the world, it's important to remember that these flying robots can do much more than just move packages. Read More >>

animals
Exploding Hog-Manure Foam is Costing Farmers Millions

Hog farmers across the US are dealing with a pretty shitty problem. A mysterious fecal foam has begun bubbling up from beneath barn floors, down in the darkness where pig manure falls, burping dangerous quantities of methane and hydrogen sulfide. Sometimes, though, it ignites, blowing up not just the barn but all of the pigs inside. Read More >>

science
How a Total Accident Saved the French Wine Industry

Amy Harmon's excellent, recent article in the New York Times describes how the Florida orange juice industry may soon be wiped out because of a new bacterial disease spread by an introduced insect. It looks like there could be a technology fix for the problem using genetic engineering. The question is whether the growers will get to apply that solution. Read More >>

architecture
This Downtown Tokyo Office Tower Contains a Vibrant Vertical Farm

In technology-obsessed Japan, farming doesn't exactly top the list of desirable jobs. But a staffing company in Tokyo's financial district is using its own office space to illustrate cutting-edge horticultural techniques and inspire a new generation of urban farmers. Read More >>

environment
This Agricultural Breakthrough Makes Every Crop Self-Fertilising

We've been using nitrogen fertilisers to bolter crop growth since the neolithic era. But producing enough food for seven billion mouths requires intensive farming farming practices that demand heavy applications of fertilisers. And their overuse is taking a heavy toll on the environment—an estimated £70 billion to £350 billion worth of damage in Europe alone. Read More >>

design
Using Algorithmic Modeling to “Print” Smarter Fields

Combination planting—where certain crops are planted together to stave off pests or enhance taste—is as old as farming itself. But up until recently, it’s been difficult to be precise about where and how different crops can benefit from each other. Benedikt Groß, a UK interaction designer, is using algorithmic processing to improve on a practice that's thousands of years old. Read More >>

design
Laser-Cut Logos: The Future of Packaging Is No Packaging At All

The EU is notoriously sensitive about how its crops are grown—but this weekend, it will begin allowing companies to apply labels and barcodes directly onto produce using lasers. The new legislation—which has taken three years to pass—was spearheaded by a Spanish company called Laser Food (natch), which has developed proprietary tech to print the marks en masse. Read More >>

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