Sunday, July 31, 2016
500,000 youths in Nigeria to undergo training in agriculture and skill acquisition to ensure food security.
The Federal Government of Nigeria said it will be training 500, 000 youths on agriculture and skill acquisition in a bid to provide food security. The Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, this is coming as the campaign for the diversification of the Nigerian economy is getting stronger and as many believe that the nation is presently in a state of economic recession owing to a decline in crude oil exports. President, Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Dr Olajide Ayinla, announced that the society is partnering with the government to improve the sector by inserting fishery into the school curriculum to enhance the knowledge among young people and create jobs. Experts say Nigeria spends about $11 billion on the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone, based on this, the fishery society is collaborating with the government to encourage more local production. More
Anthrax outbreak in western Siberia that left 13 in hospital blamed on 75-year-old reindeer corpse.Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland. In one of the more unusual symptoms of unseasonable warmth, long-dormant bacteria appear to be active. For the first time since 1941, anthrax struck western Siberia. Thirteen Yamal nomads were hospitalized, including four children, the Siberian Times reported. The bacteria took an even worse toll on wildlife, claiming some 1,500 reindeer since Sunday. According to NBC News, the outbreak is thought to stem from a reindeer carcass that died in the plague 75 years ago. As the old flesh thawed, the bacteria once again became active. The disease tore through the reindeer herds, prompting the relocation of dozens of the indigenous Nenet community. Herders face a quarantine that may last until September. The governor, Dmitry Kobylkin, declared a state of emergency. On Tuesday, Kobylkin said “all measures” had been taken to isolate the area, according to AP. “Now the most important thing is the safety and health of our fellow countrymen — the reindeer herders and specialists involved in the quarantine.” In Missouri, anthrax tends to be more worrisome for farmers than for consumers. “It’s more of a threat if you’re a cow,” Stewart told the Missourian. “Cows are killed by anthrax when they pick up the spores when they’re grazing in grass or drinking water out of ponds, and that sort of thing.” In Russia’s north, however, the situation is different. If the link between an old deer corpse and a new outbreak is confirmed, it will solidify concerns about anthrax some scientists have harbored for years. In 2011, two researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences writing in the journal Global Health Action assessed the conditions required for anthrax to appear in Yakutia, a region to the east of Yamal that contains 200 burial grounds of cattle that died from the disease. Continue
A groomer at an Iowa City veterinary clinic was ticketed for animal neglect and fired from his job after kicking a dog, breaking several ribs. The 22-year-old man will make his initial court appearance on August 25th. The dog had to be kept under observation at an emergency veterinarian for several days afterward. The dog suffered several broken ribs and bruised lungs. The owners of the Creature Comfort Veterinary Center say as soon as they learned of the incident, the man was fired. More
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Owners of smart pet-feeding device Petnet were told to "feed their pets manually" after a server problem stopped the device from working. Petnet allows owners to schedule and control feeding via a smartphone app. Adam Simon, an analyst with research company Context, said it was important users "always had a manual back-up" for smart systems."Increasingly, people are becoming dependent on these smart objects, and that could become a problem," he said. "In this case, your pet could be left hungry." Petnet, which now says all systems are back online, had previously told customers: "We are experiencing some difficulties with one of our third-party services. "This is currently being investigated, and we will provide you with more information as we receive it from our partners. "You may experience a loss of scheduled feed and failed remote feedings. "Please ensure that your pets have been fed manually until we have resolved this issue." Watch
Farming has an unglamorous image across Africa, but this is changing according to BBC's Sophie Ikenye who met some young professionals who packed in their office jobs and moved back to the family farm. Agriculture is now the beautiful bride sought after by the young and young at heart with many innovative dimensions. City dwellers have also found a way to participate in agriculture,through urban farming to grow vegetables,raise snail,fish and rabbits among st other ventures. This is a story of a vetpreneur, who decided to practice urban agriculture on side walks,sacks and bottles. Echbee farms churning out farm fresh vegetables. This Six years ago Emmanuel Koranteng, 33, gave up his job as an accountant in the US and bought a one-way ticket to Ghana. He now has a successful business growing pineapples in a village one-and-a-half hours away from the capital, Accra. He says that even when he was far away from the farm, it was always in his thoughts. Dimakatso Nono, 34, also left her job in finance to return to the family farm in South Africa.She left her lucrative job five years ago and moved from Johannesburg to manage her father's 2,000 acre farm three hours away in Free State Province. She says she wanted to make an impact. "I knew that if I came to assist my father, I would be able to actually make meaningful change." She began by counting his cows. At the beginning, we were not sure about what the animals were doing and where they were in the fields, so for me it was important to ensure that every single day, every activity that we do is recorded." Life on the farm has not been easy. This year's drought across Southern Africa put an end to her apple, maize and sunflower crops. So does she ever have days when she thinks she made the wrong move away from the corporate world? "No, not at all, not for me. "I'm not always on top of the world but on such days I appreciate the fact that if need to rest or recuperate, there's no better place than here where you have the nature to support you." A World Bank report from 2013 estimates that Africa's farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they were able to access to more capital, electricity and better technology. "Agriculture has a bright future in Africa," says Havard University technology expert Calestous Juma, to encourage more young people to return to the land, he suggests a simple solution: A name-change. "The best way to attract young people into farming is to define it as agribusiness - this entails making agriculture entrepreneurial and technology-driven. This means making the finished product, rather than just growing crops and selling them. The focus should be on the entire value chain - from farm to fork, not just production. Claudius Kurtna farms fish in western Kenya,but he doesn't sell those fish. Instead he makes them into high-protein, high-energy biscuits. The 28-year-old entrepreneur wanted to make a product which had both a long shelf life and high nutritional value. The product has been certified by Kenya's Bureau of Standards and local schools have ordered his biscuits.The motivation behind this was nutrition, for children in remote places from poor backgrounds, even refugees. Anywhere you can't get fish in its natural state," he says. These biscuits aren't made by hand, but by special machines, which are costly. That is likely to be true for any farmer who wants to copy this model. So for Mr Juma, in order to attract more younger people to farming, you need to provide funding with conditions they can meet. "Agriculture needs the same types of credit and risk-reducing incentives that are given to industrialists. Watch
A farmer who had been warned against sleeping with a neighbor’s wife has confessed to developing sagging breasts after ignoring the warning. James Mutua, 39, had been told by the woman’s husband that he would be taught a haunting lesson if he crossed the red line. He has since been watching breasts resembling those of the woman he slept with grow on his chest for the last six months. The hubby who issued the warning lived in the same village as Mutua. Unlike normal breasts that have black nipples, Mutua’s are reddish and sagging like those of a lactating woman. Mutua, a former farm manager of a prominent person in Makueni County, Eastern Kenya explained he has been living like this from 2015, and it all started after he slept with my neighbor’s wife back in the village where he was working. He felt a sensation around the chest and before long the breasts started developing and became big, forcing him to wear a bra and baggy jackets. It all began
Friday, July 29, 2016
The Youth in Agriculture (YIA) village, to be set up at this year’s Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, will focus on entrepreneurship among young farmers.The village, themed ‘My Dream: Agripreneurship’, is an added feature at this year’s show, which will be held on the Denbigh Showgrounds in May Pen, Clarendon, from July 30 to August 1. An initiative of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YAP) is being spearheaded by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs to increase young people’s involvement in agriculture. According to executive director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr Ronald Blake, the entrepreneurship focus came out of the 4-H Clubs’ observation of the high level of unemployment among youth in the country.He noted that there will be competitions to reinforce the theme, with persons between 17 and 25 years of age from high schools, tertiary institutions and the community taking part. Blake said in addition to visits to the booths, the young people will compete in designing products that will enhance the agricultural sector, through technology. The competitions include creating a mobile app, business plan/model, jingles, budding and grafting, cattle judging, a social media agri-promotion, and an agri-processing/nutraceutical contest. “These competitions will stimulate the youngsters’ minds, encourage them to create businesses from their yields, which is very important to the transformation of the agricultural industry in Jamaica,” Dr. Blake explained. He said that in addition to the business opportunities, the village will provide information that will encourage youth to pursue vocational studies in agriculture. continue
A pit bull mutt being dog-sat in a Brooklyn luxury apartment gnawed off a housekeeper’s toe moments after she arrived to start her shift, police said. The 62-year-old woman had just walked into the 20 Bayard St. apartment in Williamsburg around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to start cleaning when the nervous dog attacked her. The pooch, which belongs to a friend of the homeowner, chomped down on the woman's left pinky toe, ripping it clean off her foot, cops said. EMS personnel were called to the apartment and immediately put the severed toe on ice. The woman was taken to Bellevue Hospital, but it was not certain if doctors were able to reattach the toe, cops said.The NYPD's Emergency Service Unit was also called to the apartment and coaxed the dog into a portable cage before bringing it to an Animal Care and Control Center facility. An ACC spokeswoman said the female canine is being held on a 10-day rabies screening pending a Department of Health investigation. More
A new finding reported in the July issue of Science and was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. A provisional patent application has been filed. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy. The conventional solar cells, convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, but this new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently. Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study explained that the new solar cell is not photovoltaic but rather it’s photosynthetic. He remarked that instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight. While plants produce fuel in the form of sugar, the artificial leaf delivers syngas, or synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. Syngas can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels. The ability to turn CO2 into fuel at a cost comparable to a gallon of gasoline would render fossil fuels obsolete. Chemical reactions that convert CO2 into burnable forms of carbon are called reduction reactions, the opposite of oxidation or combustion. Salehi-Khojin explained that engineers have been exploring different catalysts to drive CO2 reduction, but so far such reactions have been inefficient and rely on expensive precious metals such as silver. Salehi-Khojin and his coworkers focused on a family of nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides — or TMDCs — as catalysts, pairing them with an unconventional ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two-compartment, three-electrode electrochemical cell. The best of several catalysts they studied turned out to be nanoflake tungsten diselenide.“The new catalyst is more active; more able to break carbon dioxide’s chemical bonds,” said UIC postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Asadi, first author on the Science paper. continue
An Arizona man on Wednesday became the first in the nation to have a dissolvable stent inserted into his artery. Abbott Laboratories' Absorb stent was approved this week by the FDA for use in the U.S. on patients with coronary artery disease Video
Preliminary tests have demonstrated that a new device may enable existing breast cancer imagers to provide up to six times better contrast of tumors in the breast, while maintaining the same or better image quality and halving the radiation dose to patients. The advance is made possible by a new device developed for 3D imaging of the breast by researchers at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Dilon Technologies and the University of Florida Department of Biomedical Engineering. In breast cancer screening, mammography is the gold standard. But about half of all women who follow standard screening protocol for 10 years will receive a false-positive result that will require additional screening, particularly women who have dense breast tissue. Used in conjunction with mammography, imaging based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening alongside mammography to reduce the number of false positive results in women with dense breasts and at higher risk for developing breast cancer. Now, researchers are hoping to improve this imaging technique, known as molecular breast imaging or breast specific gamma imaging, with better image quality and precise location (depth information) within the breast, while reducing the amount of radiation dose to the patient for these procedures.While a mammogram uses X-rays to show the structure of breast tissue, molecular breast imagers show tissue function.Continue
Massive anthrax outbreak wounds Russia’s venison sector: An outbreak of anthrax has killed 1,500 northern deer in Russia and, with the figure set to rise, fears over exports of venison have begun to surface. Read
A team of US researchers has been studying ways to convert elements of pig manure for making new roads. A statement from North Carolina A&T State University, in Greensboro, NC, United States, shows that Prof Elle Fini and a team of researchers has found a way to extract the rich oil that is found in pig waste, and mix it with rocks to form a new type of asphalt durable enough for highway traffic, which they call ‘Bio-Adhesive’. The extensive research, which has included putting samples of the new material through rigorous vehicle simulators and tests to determine its durability, has proven to be a success according to the press release. Fini and a group of partners have set up a company called Bio-Adhesive Alliance. The team carried out tests to see if it will rock or sag too much because it shouldn’t do that. Also it shouldn’t crack at low temperatures. The vision of the alliance is to help the farmer and the construction industry by providing a cost effective solution.. The team believe its a win/win solution as all parties benefit and nothing is wasted. In the course of processing, the foul, aroma is filtered out, and the by-products of the bio-adhesive can be used by farmers as fertilizer.
Silicon Valley’s ‘bloody’ veggie burger enters New York .Impossible Foods has launched a plant-based burger that bleeds, begging the question as to whether the Silicon Valley firm has fired the starting gun on an era of meat-free meat? The
The Art of Living has been working in the field of organic farming since 2008. It has trained more than 2 million farmers and unemployed youth in this sustainable and profitable method of farming. Sri Sri Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Trust (SSIAST) has brought a wave of change in the life of these farmers. 44-year-old Rajiv Kumar from Sheikhpur district of Bihar had 4 acres of land that was lying barren and earning him no income. With only a dry riverbed near-by, water shortage was scarce in the region. He was thus unable to utilise this land for cultivation. In 2009, Rajiv was unemployed with seven family members to feed. In an attempt to salvage the land, he attended a Zero Budget workshop conducted by Mr. Balakrishan of the Art of Living. He learnt water conservation and methods to replace nutrients in the soil. Different crops were grown at the same time and cow dung and cow urine were used as fertilizers. This kept the cost of farming at a minimum with the farmer only investing in water and seeds. Rajiv implemented the techniques he had learnt in the workshop by growing flowers on his land. Rajiv dug pits every 30 feet, filled it with water, and sowed different types of flowers and fruits around it. This helped increase the ground water flow. As plants need moisture, and not water, cultivating near a pit of water provided better irrigation and prevented water wastage. The water supply is now available 24x7: Rajiv has created a thriving nursery of flowers of excellent quality. Along with flowers, he now grows Rosewood, Mango, Teak, Lemon, Pomegranate, Papaya, and Lakshmi Taru. Instead of using chemical pesticides, he sows a Neem plant every 30 feet and sprinkles ash from the agnihotra puja he performs. This effectively keeps his nursery healthy. Rajiv was unemployed before the training, but now he is ready to train others in this method of farming. On an average, around 500 people from across the land visit his nursery and marvel at the flowers. Today, he sells his flowers and fruits to numerous customers including the Forest Department of Bihar. While the average per capita income of Bihar is Rs. 28,000, Rajiv is earning more than Rs. 400,000 per annum. more
Precision farming has been hailed as the future of agriculture, sustainability, and the food industry. That’s why a company called FarmBot is working to bring precision agriculture technology to environmentally conscious individuals for the first time. The company’s first product — the FarmBot Genesis — is a do-it-yourself precision farming solution, that (theoretically) anyone can figure out. The system is already up to its ninth iteration, and the open source robot improves in each version thanks to input from the FarmBot community. The precision farming movement may not solve every problem the industry faces, but it does have a lot of potential to improve sustainability and efficiency. Before FarmBot, precision agriculture equipment was only available in the form of massive heavy machinery. Precision farming tractors used to cost more than $1 million each when FarmBot creator Rory Aronson first had the idea for his solution in 2011. More
Scientists have discovered a bacteria living inside the human nose that produces an antibiotic capable of killing one of the most hard-to-treat pathogens, which causes serious, even deadly skin and wound infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia. German researchers found that this antibacterial substance was effective in treating skin infections in mice caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, according to a study published in Nature. The scientists said the substance, which they named lugdunin, has potent antimicrobial effects against a wide range of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus bacteria. The scientists said their find represents the first known example of a new class of antibiotics. That’s seen as particularly welcome news given the urgent global problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and the dwindling arsenal of drugs to replace ones that no longer work. The German researchers said lugdunin also is not prone to causing S. aureus to develop resistance. They are not exactly sure how it works, and clinical development is many years away and will require partners from the pharmaceutical industry. It’s possible that lugdunin disrupts the target bacteria’s cell membranes, but that could also make it harder to develop as a drug for injection because of its potential for also disrupting animal membranes. The German researchers for the study examined nasal swabs from 187 hospitalized patients and found that of the people who carried S. lugdunensis, only about 6 percent also carried S. aureus compared with 34 percent in individuals without the nasal bacteria. Those differences are evidence that bacteria in the nose help keep S. aureus at bay.more
Thursday, July 28, 2016
The cross-breeding of the English Bulldog is required to ensure its survival amid growing health problems. The selective nature of breeding for physical traits has made the Bulldog so inbred it cannot be returned to health unless with an infusion of new bloodlines, a genetic study published in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology suggests. The U.S. researchers have said that the Olde English Bulldogge, a related breed from America, is likely a candidate. The English Bulldog breed, which is also known as the British Bulldog, has cultural association with the United Kingdom, but has also been adopted worldwide. The breed is of gentle temperament and requires low-maintenance. But the breed suffers from several medical conditions, including breathing difficulties, skin allergies and mobility problems. Pedersen and his colleagues from the Center for Companion Animal Health conducted tests on the DNA of 102 registered English Bulldogs to determine its genetic diversity. However, the results show that the dogs have very low levels of diversity. Comparisons between the 102 registered bulldogs and an additional 37 animals suggest there was no difference genetically between the registered animals and dogs from commercial breeders. Pedersen noted that there are some English Bulldogs that can breed normally and give birth normally, while there are some that are more mobile than others, there are some that can breathe better than others, and some that don't have the skin allergies and auto-immune disorders. He added that it's hard to find one individual that contains all of those traits. You may have one English Bulldog that does not have the extreme changes in the head so that they breathe easier, but they may have lots of skeletal problems that lead to extreme arthritis.continue
A kayaking excursion on the Dan River turned into an animal rescue mission for five local veterinary workers Wednesday afternoon near Milton, North Carolina. The five women — employees at Animal Medical Center of Danville — saved a calf from sliding down an embankment into the river. “We were out there kayaking and having a good time and me and one of my friends … heard the mother crying,” said Desiree Robertson, a veterinary technician. “We glanced back and saw the calf stuck in the mud.” Jenny Gauldin, an assistant groomer at the center, said the calf was down a 20-foot drop. The group had started their kayaking trip at Anglers Park before encountering the calf near Milton at the Virginia/North Carolina border. Robertson — along with Gauldin, Megan Barnes and Lauren Spivey — climbed the mudslide, tied a rope around calf’s chest and hoisted him up the bank, Robertson said. Three of them pulled the calf up the bank while Gauldin pushed him from beneath, Gauldin said. “We just went over there and took action,” Robertson said.They delivered the animal back to his mother at the top of the embankment.“We made sure he had suckled and then we left,” Gauldin said, adding that the rescue took about 10-20 minutes. Gauldin said they all were sunburned by the time the rescue was over. One of the calf’s owners, Josh Burnett, said he was “very grateful” the women — who also included veterinary technician Tonya Wyatt — saved the animal. Burnett has known Barnes for 15 years and takes his three dogs to Animal Medical Center. Barnes called Burnett after the rescue and told him what happened, he said. More
Carfentanil a drug used to sedate elephants and other large animals which is 100 times as potent as the fentanyl have been found to be mixed with or passed off as heroin. The appearance of carfentanil, one of the most potent opioids known to investigators, has added another angle to cases of drug overdoses, heroin and abuse of fentanyl. Carfentanil is so powerful that zoo veterinarians typically wear face shields, gloves and other protective gear — "just a little bit short of a hazmat suit" — when preparing the medicine to sedate animals because even one drop splattered into a person's eye or nose could be fatal, said Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, executive director of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. He explained that a loaded syringe of a reversal drug is kept on hand in case of an accident and the extremely limited carfentanil supply regulators allow for such facilities to be kept and locked away and its subject to auditing. Investigators are trying to track down the source of the carfentanil. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he was unaware of any thefts of the drug, which, he noted, could be shipped from abroad or produced here. Chinese companies sell carfentanil online, but it hasn't shown up much in the U.S. drug supply, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. There hasn't been much evidence of carfentanil on the streets or in testing related to criminal cases, said agent Rich Isaacson, a spokesman for the DEA's Detroit Division, which covers Ohio. The drug is thought to be similar in strength to a painkiller known as W-18, which has shown up in heroin in Philadelphia, New England and Canada. Such drugs up the ante in a market where sellers already mix powerful painkillers with or disguise them as heroin to increase their products' potency, which can increase overdose risks for users, especially when they're unaware of what they're using.Some of the surviving users told investigators they thought they were buying heroin. Drugs used for animals have showed up in street drugs before, but carfentanil is so new on the investigative scene that the state's crime lab didn't even have a standard for comparing samples.In some suspected carfentanil cases, emergency responders have had to administer multiple doses of the overdose antidote naloxone, often known by the brand name Narcan, to save people, but even the antidote might not be enough. Continue
The new line of Never Any! chicken, turkey, ham and bacon products is being sold exclsively at Aldi stores. The products are from animals that have never been given antibiotics and were fed a vegetarian-only diet. Animals processed for Never Any! label were raised without antibiotics and fed a vegetarian diet. The grocery chain Aldi has launched its line of “Never Any!” products, which includes chicken, turkey, ham and bacon. All products under the label will be raised without antibiotics and will be fed an all-vegetarian diet, according to a press release from the company. The Never Any! brand will be sold exclusively at Aldi stores. “We believe every shopper should have access to food they feel good about serving their family,” said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi. “That’s why we’re dedicated to providing high quality groceries at affordable prices – making healthy living simple for more than 32 million customers who shop our stores each month.” continue
Aquaponics farming involves raising fish and growing plants in the same space. This system if properly incorporated will ensure food security. The system maximize space and conserve water through recycling which reduces use of inorganic fertilizer thus saving money. Aquaponics system creates wealth by promoting fish farming and growing plants in same cubicle,thus creating job opportunities and food security. The system is a symbiotic one as the fish provides organic manure through the waste they pass out in the vats and the plants purifies water by removing the nutrients increasing oxygen concentration. The plants provide enough oxygen for the fish to thrive and the waste of fish gives nutrients to plants to grow and produce more oxygen,this unending cycle is the basis of the success of the aquaponics system. Learn how to set up
A farmer has made millions from fish farming in the desert using sustainable farming technique,the aquaponic system. In the desert where water is scarce, some experts are pushing for a process called aquaponics, where the wastewater from the fish is used to fertilize crops. Rush,a farmer sees fish farming not just as a way to make money, but also to save money by reusing the fish water on the 500 acres of Bermuda grass crop he grows nearby. The fish put waste in the water, which eventually turns into nitrates, a big ingredient in fertilizer. Rush said he saves more than $100,000 a year on fertilizer by using this nutrient-rich water. And, he gets double the use from costs of pumping groundwater from his wells. More
Ranchers in California and neighboring states have struggled with foothill abortion disease at least as far back as the 1940s. While the disease seemed to have little impact on the health of the pregnant cows grazing in the foothills, it resulted in their calves being aborted, stillborn or born so weak that they soon died. After more than 50 years of research, the tick-borne bacterium responsible for one of the most troubling and economically devastating cattle diseases in the Western United States has been named and genetically characterized by researchers at the University of California, Davis. Veterinary immunologist Jeffrey Stott and collegues physically examined the bacterium in tissue sections taken during postmortem exams of aborted calves. They then characterized it by partially sequencing three of its genes and named it "Pajaroellobacter abortibovis," recognizing the Pajaroello tick that carries the bacterium as well as its abortion-inducing impact on infected cows and their fetuses. The researchers have developed a preventive vaccine for foothill abortion disease, and the Vaccine trials to prevent the disease are now in the second year. In the 1980s, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine researchers found evidence that the infected cow fetuses were producing an immune response to an unidentified microbe. Between 2000 and 2010, Stott and colleagues identified the microbe as a member of the genus Myxococcus and developed techniques to grow the live bacteria in laboratory mice. Cells from such mice were eventually used to develop the vaccine. This bacterium is like no other animal pathogen ever described,as It replicates only once per day, which explains why it could not be cultivated using standard laboratory techniques. The bacterium also has a much smaller genome than the most closely related, characterized bacterium, indicating that Pajaroellobacter abortibovis has probably lost some of its genetic material as it evolved. The Pajaroello tick is as intriguing as the disease-causing bacteria it carries, Stott said. Unlike more common ticks that burrow their way into the skin of people and animals to feed, the Pajaroello is a soft-bodied tick and does not embed itself in its hosts. The Pajaroello lives in the decomposing plant litter at the base of trees, shrubs and rocks, and is attracted to cattle by the carbon dioxide the animals give off. Only once every few months, the tick makes the effort to pierce the cow's skin and feed on its blood for about 20 minutes. When the bacteria get into the cow's tissue, they travel to the cow's uterus,in cows and other ruminants, no antibodies are passed between the mother and the fetus, so the fetus is immunologically naive and very vulnerable. The fetal development accompanied by a developed immune system triggers an immunological response to the presence of the bacteria. The fetus destroys itself and usually dies about four months after the cow is infected.. The economic losses recorded in cases of foothill abortion disease is high, the disease which occurs in California's coastal mountains and the foothill regions of California, Southern Oregon and Northern Nevada, annually results in the death of an estimated 45,000 to 90,000 unborn calves.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
The future of agriculture is technology driven with data,machines,telecommunication and drones changing the way we practice agriculture. Agriculture merging with technology referred to as Agtech is a means to ensure food security by producing enough food for the ever growing population. Technology biased industry,investors,banks and agricultural experts are all looking at ways to produce more food with the constraints of scarce resources for farmers, land availability and old techniques in food production and old seed strains and animal breeds. Agriculture merged with technology has introduced not only machines but improved seed varieties,breeds and technology such as biotechnology to produce more disease resistance and rapidly growing seeds and animal breeds. The key to improved agricultural practices is the use of data alongside machines to provide high yield, within a short time and save cost.Silicon valley has seen the gap between communication and production in agriculture. The lack of reliable data coupled with advanced technological approach is responsible for losses in the field with great economic impact. Silicon valley firms have stepped into agriculture to provide data driven analytics which not only saves time, money and labor costs but also ensures the expected harvest reaches the market on record time. The technology driven agriculture has changed the terrain in countries that have warmed up to this new approach. Agtech involves remote sensors sending data to a digital dashboard that shows real-time analytics on soil temperature and moisture levels and sensors in collars of cattle can also notify health status. Drones in agriculture now fly overhead capturing high-resolution thermal and visual images that show yield variation row-by-row with Phone notifications telling the farmer the optimal time to apply fertilizer, where it’s most needed, and the estimated effect on the harvest. Everything that a farmer once was and once thought about his business has completely transformed in the last 10 years as most of the things done by labor are replaced by machines and easy predictions on harvest is a reality as much of the guesswork and instincts n farming are now replaced with data and diagrams. This trend help farmers become more efficient, productive, and profitable. Google Ventures recently announced investments in both Granular, a company that provides farm management software, and Farmers Business Network, an online service that allows farmers to compare the effectiveness of seeds and inputs. Silicon Valley firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are also embracing AgTech start-ups and increasingly looking to agriculture.
Meat consumption in China has grown sixfold since 1978. Pork is a popular meat in China, as pig farming takes center stage in the country. The success of pig farming in China has seen more and more people venturing into the business and more and more people consuming pork.There are nutritionist who believe that cutting meat consumption prolong life and ensures healthy living. The vegan group canvasing for a life of veggies have also shown that life without meat is possible and beneficial. The Chinese Food Guide Pagoda, in which meat is not taking top priority also encourages more of Water, cereals, tubers and legumes as being very important in the diet. The guide also canvases for more vegetables and fruits and small amounts of roughly 40-75 g/day of meat to be acceptable. The government in line with the food guide have enlisted Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron and Chinese actress Li Bingbing in a new video aimed at the Chinese people, in an attempt to reduce the country’s meat consumption.The tagline of the video is Less meat, less heat, more life. They are to help promote the campaign which was set up by the Chinese government to curb meat consumption by 50% - of which pork is taking a large share. Schwarzenegger, who is very popular in China, is to leverage on this to win the Chinese people over said, “If they tell you to eat more meat to be strong – don’t buy it.” The action spearheaded by WildAid, an American-based environmental organisation.The video is part of a broader strategy which include billboards and a Web campaign, shows the actor walking through a damaged landscape which allegedly is destroyed partly by carbon emissions due to animal production.
A new strategy published in the journal Biomaterials shows how University of Pennsylvania researchers have adopted a more sophisticated approach to fight plaque.An iron oxide nanoparticle applied to teeth prior to treatment with hydrogen peroxide effectively reduced the onset and severity of cavities .The bacteria that live in dental plaque and contribute to tooth decay often resist traditional antimicrobial treatment, as they "hide" within a sticky biofilm matrix, a glue-like polymer scaffold. The team did not apply an antibiotic to the teeth rather, they took advantage of the pH-sensitive and enzyme-like properties of iron-containing nanoparticles to catalyze the activity of hydrogen peroxide, a commonly used natural antiseptic. The activated hydrogen peroxide produced free radicals that were able to simultaneously degrade the biofilm matrix and kill the bacteria within, significantly reducing plaque and preventing the tooth decay, or cavities, in an animal model. The paper's lead author was Lizeng Gao, a postdoctoral researcher in Koo's lab. Coauthors were Yuan Liu, Dongyeop Kim, Yong Li and Geelsu Hwang, all of Koo's lab, as well as David Cormode, an assistant professor of radiology and bioengineering with appointments in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Pratap C. Naha, a postdoctoral fellow in Cormode's lab. A very low concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the process was incredibly effective at disrupting the biofilm but the adding nanoparticles increased the efficiency of bacterial killing more than 5,000-fold.
A new blood test to detect Mycobacteria in blood has been developed by researchers. The scientists have used this new method to show that cattle diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) have detectable levels of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) in their blood which causes this disease. The routine test for Bovine TB uses the Single Intradermal Comparative Cervical Tuberculin (SICCT) skin test for M. bovis infection and all healthy cattle are regularly tested this way. However, it is known that this test is only 90 per cent sensitive at best and misses many infected animals. This has prompted the need for better techniques to prevent false negatives during testing. Many countries are suffering the scourge of the disease not only because of economic loss but because of zoonotic nature of disease. The team from the University of Nottingham led by Dr Cath Rees, an expert in microbiology in the School of Biosciences and Dr Ben Swift from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.The result published has been published online in the peer reviewed medical journal Virulence shows evidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteraemia in intradermal skin test positive cattle detected using phage-RPA. This new, simple and inexpensive blood test detects very low levels of mycobacteria in blood using a bacteriophage-based technique developed by The University of Nottingham. The group has patented an improved version of the method that delivers results in just six hours. More recently 'proof of principal' experiments have shown that this is even more sensitive. This is currently licensed to a spin out company, PBD Biotech Ltd.
The art of insect rearing for commercial purposes originated from the Netherlands, but has now spread to different parts of the world including Africa.. Crickets are black or brown insects that belong to the class insecta, order Orthoptera and genus Acheta. They are categorized into two groups; house cricket and field cricket. These creatures are the latest money code in agriculture.Crickets is independent of climate change. Farmers are able to rear them throughout the year and thus their profitability is ensured. This cheap startup has found its share in urban agriculture,the crickets can be raised in-house,outdoors in bucket,crates or bowls. The relative ease of raising these creatures coupled with the health benefits derived has made the cricket ,food of the future. Crickets have a higher feed conversion ratio converting most of their feed into protein. The insect has a high protein value an advantage that is tapped in area of malnutrition. Crickets are a rich source of fats, especially the polyunsaturated fatty acids ,they also contain minerals such as iron and zinc. Crickets can be used directly as food or ground into flour to fortify other foods. Cricket flour can be used as an ingredient to make products such as biscuits, cakes, porridge, chapati and mandazi. For example cricket farmers in Bondo have been incorporating cricket flour to make different confectioneries. Farmers in Kenya utilize buckets where female adults lay fertilized eggs under a wet cotton wool. After a month, the eggs hatch into nymphs that feed on vegetables, soy flour and water.It takes three months for crickets to mature into adult stage. An adult cricket weighs about 0.5- 1.5grammes. Harvesting of the mature crickets is by emptying into boiling water for about 5 minutes. These are then cooled in cold water before being dried in a solar drier to a moisture content of below five per cent. This reduces the growth of bacteria and molds, making them have an extended shelf-life and safe for human consumption. MORE
Insect farming is considered more sustainable than traditional livestock. They are coldblooded and are efficient at converting food into protein. They require 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein, according to a 2013 United Nations report examining insects' potential as human food. Insects are reported to emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia than cattle or pigs, and they require significantly less land and water than cattle rearing. Crickets require 8 percent of the water it takes for cows to produce a similar amount of protein,and critters emit 1 percent of the greenhouse gases of cows. The protein content the crickets deliver's is 15 percent more ,and has an iron content than spinach and as much vitamin B-12 as salmon. The business is fast gaining popularity because of the low capital startup, rapid and high return of investment and the relative ease of production. Iowa resident begins cricket farming for human consumption,she
Fingerling production in cat fish farming is an essential part of the farm operation because it is the seed needed for production.The Clarias gariepinus spp is the common cat fish reared in Nigeria because of its early maturity taste,and the fact that it has an accessory breathing organ hence can survive outside water for some hrs,this explains why its sold live in the open markets. The mature male and female brood stock are chosen and kept in separate tubs,one male can fertilize 10 females.The males are bigger and heavier than the females,weighing over 1kg is the ideal .The males must have well developed genitals that are reddish indicating maturity. The females to be used must be identified as good spawners,with a weight of 450-500g,and must be over 8months with dark golden green eggs. The females are usually injected with hormones,the eggs expressed and mixed with milt of the male catfish.The male catfish is killed to extract the milt while the female is returned to pond after eggs are expressed. There are various hormones used in stimulating ovulation in fish such as ova prim, human chorionic gonadotropin, crushed pituitary gland and a combination of motilium and suprefact. The materials needed for the spawning include; a glass trough or a bath tub with water inlet and outlet pipes, screen with stand, pumps,bowls and net covering to keep tank covered and dark.The method you intend to use will dictate materials you will put in place. The The money making potential is enormous and so many farmers are into hatchery business and smiling to the bank. Jane Waruinge, the proprietor of Jasa Fish Farm left America to set up an hatchery business. Jane only keeps a few mature fish for brooding, seeing as her venture mainly deals in fingerling,She shipped in the brooders, with her monosex tilapia coming mainly from UK, and the gold fish and catfish coming from Jambo Fish Farm in Kiambu. Her aquaculture farm now boasts of three types of fish fingerlings (tilapia, catfish and gold fish), with her specialty being in monosex male tilapia fingerlings.She pumped Sh3.5million into the development of her two plots, bought and erected the hatcheries, built the ponds and put up other numerous essential structures. The environment of the hatchery and ponds has to be kept at a constant temperature of 24-28 degrees centigrade and anything much lower or higher than that could prove disastrous to the fingerlings. More
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
A new smartphone app developed in St Petersburg in Florida, USA is being used to fight poachers in northern Kenya. Fulcrum whose use was perfected by municipalities and businesses to collect forms and field data is now being used to track down the location of elephants and ivory smugglers by sharing the information quickly with game rangers before poachers strike. The initiative, tenBoma, is a counter-poaching initiative being piloted by the non-governmental International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Kenya Wildlife Service designed to protect the most endangered Kenyan wildlife by identifying, mapping, and destroying poaching networks “IFAW’s tenBoma project is taking the lessons learned from counter-terrorism and applying them to wildlife protection. Fulcrum is a powerful new weapon being used in the battle to destroy poaching. Fulcrum tracks the location of elephant poachers helping game rangers to plan their patrols. Where any security threat is detected, it is promptly shared out for effective response from ground and air surveillance. The patrols use Fulcrum-equipped smartphones, and they traverse the plains looking for poachers and plot their observations on a real-time map shared with authorities and game rangers. The information is then used to form essential data analysis which is shared out with local law enforcement and communities in the affected area The work of the Fulcrum team on the tenBoma initiative is recognized worldwide as a model for combating the effects of illegal wildlife trafficking on global security
FORBES held its second AgTech Summit, showing off the varieties of technologies that are changing the future of farming, from big data to robots to satellites to machine learning to benevolent fungi. Julie Borlaug, the granddaughter of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Norman Borlaug, who’s carrying on the family legacy by pushing innovation in agriculture to ensure we can feed the future. Kim Nicholson, the VP of Business Development for Spensa Technologies. They manufacture the “Z-Trap,” a device that replaces the painstaking work of estimating pest populations by hand with real-time data. The Z-trap is capable of not only collecting bugs, but it zaps them with electricity in a way that allows the species of bug to be identified, making it much more efficient for farmers to control pests in their fields. more
Scientists have been able to restore vision in blind rabbits by creating eye tissue from human stem cells, a development that could lead to human trials to help restore vision within the next two years. Researchers from the Cardiff University and Osaka University in Japan collaborated to grow multiple different cells similar to those found in the eye. Cells they created to be similar to cells in the cornea were able to surgically repair the front of the eye in the blind rabbits. The scientists behind the work say the breakthrough could lead to clinical human trials of anterior eye transplantation to restore loss of damaged vision. Andrew Quantock from Cardiff University, who coauthored the work, explained that the research published in the journal Nature shows that human stem cells are able to take on the characteristics of the cornea, lens and retina. "We've been using human iPS cells -- which are induced pluripotent stem cells -- growing them in a 2D culture dish. Spontaneously the cells, after several weeks, created four zones on their own," Quantock told WIRED. "Each zone has the molecular characteristics of a different part of the eye." "We took cells from the third zone, which most looks like the corneal epithelium, and grew those further out before transferring them onto the animal model, which was functional and worked." The scientists were able to show that the corneal cells could be cultivated and transplanted onto the eyes of "rabbits with experimentally induced blindness" to repair the front of the eye. At present 4,000 corneal grafts are performed by the NHS each year. However these rely on human organ donation, although some human patients in the UK have received stem cell treatments to save their eyesight.More
The "microfish" created by a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego, who claimed they can print hundreds of the tiny robots in seconds. This 3D-printed robots in the shape of small fish may one day be able to swim through bloodstreams, delivering drugs to the human body and removing toxins. The study, published in Advanced Materials, shows the robots measure just 120 microns long by 30 microns thick -- making them smaller than the width of a human hair. The microfish are made with platinum nanoparticles in their tails which, when they come into contact with hydrogen peroxide, causes their tails to move. Tiny iron oxide particles in their heads also allow the robot shoal to magnetically steer themselves. The research showed the microfish could both sense toxins and work as detoxifying robots. Their bodies glowed a fluorescent red color when placed in contaminated liquid as a result of toxic-neutralizing particles reacting to the poison.more
Yvette van Kooyk is making a cancer vaccine at the nano scale. "By using nanotechnology to deliver vaccines into the body, we can create more powerful cancer treatments," says van Kooyk, an immunologist at the VU University Medical Centerin Amsterdam. She's building nanovaccines out of glycans, sugar molecules that naturally bind to receptors on immune cells in the body. "The glycan is used for specifically targeting the cells that you need," van Kooyk explains. She exploits this trait by attaching the glycans to cancer-fighting antigens, relying on the sugar molecules to transport those antigens directly into the target immune cells, where they trigger an immune response, telling the body to attack its cancerous cells. The vaccine can target immune cells so precisely, "you don't lose your vaccine to other cells," van Kooyk says. That enables the vaccine to launch a targeted and particularly powerful immune response that may be capable of destroying tumours. Now, she is tailoring the nanovaccine to work on diseases including melanoma, pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma, a brain tumor. The goal is to give patients lifelong immunity from certain cancers so that they don't develop again, she says. In three years, she estimates, they will start trial the vaccines on humans. Read
An engineer teamed up with a veterinarian to test a bone cancer drug delivery system in the dogs because they are closer in size and biology to humans . Dogs also have naturally occurring bone cancers, which also are a lot like human bone tumors. The researchers report their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the clinical trials, the dogs tolerated the highest planned doses of cancer-drug-laden nanoparticles with no signs of toxicity. As in mice, the particles homed in on tumor sites, thanks to a coating of the drug pamidronate, which preferentially binds to degraded sites in bone. The nanoparticles also showed anti-cancer activity in mice and dogs. These findings are a proof-of-concept that nanoparticles can be used to target bone cancers in large mammals, the researchers said. The approach may one day be used to treat metastatic skeletal cancers. The aim of the research was to evaluate these drug-delivery strategies, not only in a mouse model, but also at a scale that would mimic what a person would get. The amount of nanoparticle that was administered to these dogs was a thousand-fold greater in quantity than would typically be given to a mouse and result was satisfactory.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Scientists have shown that malaria-transmitting mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species such as chickens, using their sense of smell. Odors emitted by species such as chickens could provide protection for humans at risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases, according to a study in the open access Malaria Journal. Researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia found that Anopheles arabiensis, one of the predominant species transmitting malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, avoids chickens when looking for hosts to feed on. This indicates that, unlike humans, cattle, goats and sheep, chickens are a non-host species for An. arabiensis and that the mosquitoes have developed ways of distinguishing them from host species. A corresponding author, explained they were surprised to find that malaria mosquitoes are repelled by the odors emitted by chickens. This study shows for the first time that malaria mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species, and that this behavior is regulated through odor cues. The research team collected data on the population of human and domestic animals in three Ethiopian villages. They also collected blood-fed mosquitoes to test for the source of the blood that the mosquitoes had fed on. People living in the areas in which the research was conducted share their living quarters with their livestock. The researchers found that while An. arabiensis strongly prefers human over animal blood when seeking hosts indoors, it randomly feeds on cattle, goats and sheep when outdoors, but avoids chickens in both settings, despite their relatively high abundance. Since mosquitoes select and discriminate between their hosts mainly based on their sense of smell, the researchers collected hair, wool and feathers from potential host and non-host species to analyze the odor compounds present in them. Identifying certain compounds that were only present in chicken feathers, the researchers used these and other compounds obtained from all species to test their ability to repel mosquitoes from mosquito traps. The traps were set up in 11 thatched houses in one of the villages for a total of 11 days. In each of the houses, a single volunteer aged between 27 and 36 years slept under an untreated bed net. The researchers found that significantly fewer mosquitoes were caught in traps baited with chicken compounds than in control traps. Suspending a living chicken in a cage next to a trap had a similar repellent effect. An. arabiensis is difficult to control with existing methods, according to previous research. The results of this study suggest that, in combination with established control methods, the odors emitted by chickens and other non-host species could prove useful in controlling An. arabiensis.
New research shows that dogs de-stress families with autistic children ,Owning a pet dog reduces stress and significantly improves functioning in families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder .The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Lincoln and published in the American Journal of Veterinary Behavior UK, and funded by the US-based Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, also found a reduction in the number of dysfunctional interactions between parent and child among families which owned a dog. Professor Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, led the research. He said: "While there is growing evidence that animal-assisted -therapy can aid in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders, this study is one of the first to examine how pet dog ownership can also improve the lives of those more widely affected by autism. Researchers have previously focused on the positive effects that assistance dogs can have on the child's well-being and have passed over the impact they might also have on close relatives, but our results show that owning a pet dog (rather than a specifically trained assistance dog) can considerably improve the function of the whole family unit. He
Aerial Agriculture LLC, a startup company launched by Purdue University students, aims to revolutionize the agricultural industry by building drones in-house to capture multi-spectral images of entire crop fields. This technology could allow farmers to reduce excess fertilizer and input costs while simultaneously increasing yields. Aerial Agriculture uses specialized cameras to convert images into valuable vegetation indices that represent crop health and allow agronomists to determine the amount of nitrogen and fertilizer that needs to be applied in specific locations throughout the field. "Our technology can pinpoint crop areas that need more attention, which allows farmers to then apply more inputs and address potential crop issues immediately, as opposed to after the fact," said Austin Deardorff, Aerial Agriculture co-founder and a student in Purdue's College of Engineering. The drones make it easy so we are able to stitch images together in maps to show the crops' health in a precise and easy-to-read manner. Our products and services also increase environmental sustainability because we are implementing autonomous technology and use less harmful inputs," Deardorff said. "We want to become the only agriculture drone service company in Indiana and begin expanding to multiple states with longer growing seasons." See
Innovation and disruption that’s occurring in real time all around us and the field of agriculture has also dived in with data driven technologies to ensure food safety,food security and prevention of resources.. This need to produce more food for the ever increasing poopulation using fewer inputs, has seen agriculture seeking new products, practices and technologies. Big data is causing the disruption to meet these needs because of the need to use fewer chemicals and less water, subsistence farmers need to close the yield gap. Production farmers want yield boosts and cost savings. Consumers are demanding healthier, clean food and ingredients ,big data is providing all necessary information about food production,processing and distribution. This allow consumers to track,trace and know the source of what they purchase. The accessibility of information everywhere from the plant genome to water management, fertilization, climate, soil, machinery, and crop protection systems makes a great impact on agriculture. The various ways to get and use data both in both farming practices and advances in crop genetics and also on the production level, this is changing the value chain in agriculture as access to big data is transferring power to the farmer and smaller companies, while the big companies consolidate and struggle to innovate. Disruption will take big ideas, new business models and bold people. A new generation of independent companies are harnessing big data to generate new insights, practices and products. Traditional agribusiness companies and supply chains will have to adapt if they want to keep up. There are four main areas where big data is used in the food chain:1)– Development of new seed traits: Discoveries and access to the plant genome with new ways to measure, map, and drive information into better products, faster. 2)– Precision Farming: Although sometimes confused, big data and precision agriculture are not synonymous. Big data takes advantage of information derived through precision farming in aggregate over many farms. The resulting analytics, insights, and better decisions can then be deployed through precision farming techniques. 3) Food Tracking: Use of sensors and analytics to prevent spoilage and food borne illnesses. – 4) Effect on Supply Chains :shifts in the supply chains of seed, crop inputs, and food driven by the democratization of technology and information. more
Precision agriculture has is a management system that is information and technology-based, is site specific, and uses one or more of the following sources of data: soils, crops, nutrients, pests, moisture, or yield for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment. Autonomous, or operator-less technology, has found usefulness as a tool in precision agriculture. Autonomous tractors have increasingly found usefulness in material handling systems used in factories and slowly finding acceptance in automotive vehicle lane in agriculture. The self-driving models from manufacturers such as Tesla and Google – offer varying degrees of reduced operator input. Autonomous Tractor Corporation (ATC), headquartered in Fargo, ND, has introduced AutoDrive, a patented navigation system that combines GPS technology with two individual on-ground validation systems. At the heart of AutoDrive is ATC’s Laser-Radio Navigation System (LRNS), a Local Area Network (LAN) system based on Radio Frequency (RF) technology that utilizes artificial intelligence (IA) to “train” the tractor to do repetitive tasks without programming. AutoDrive is trained to perform the task just as the farmer does. when AutoDrive becomes proficient at that task and suitably trusted, slowly more tasks can be introduced. The parent farmer has no more trust for an autonomous tractor then for a son or daughter until a certain level of trust is developed over time. For safety, AutoDrive comes with a sonar-based detection system that will immediately bring the tractor to a halt when an object is detected 30’ away. When this occurs, a text is sent to the owner, who through two pan-tilt cameras can remotely access what has happened. Read
A self-driving John Deere tractor rumbles through Ian Pigott’s 2,000-acre farm every week or so to spray fertilizer, guided by satellite imagery and each plot’s harvesting history. The 11-ton behemoth, loaded with so many screens it looks like an airplane cockpit, relays the nutrient information to the farmer’s computer system. With weather forecasts and data on pesticide use, soil readings, and plant tissue tests pulled by various pieces of software, Pigott can keep tabs on the farm down to the square meter in real time without ever leaving his carpeted office. “This is becoming more standard,” says Pigott, who grows a rotation of wheat, oil seed, oats, and barley on his farm in the rolling Hertfordshire countryside an hour north of London.We can take our data, walk right into the fields with an iPad or iPhone, pinpoint exactly where we are ... and figure out what we should be doing with each parcel of land” German chemical company Bayer cited the growth in such digitally assisted farming as a key reason for its $62 billion bid for Monsanto, which has become a leading provider of analytics used by growers. Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann says Monsanto is at the “forefront of digital farming.” Acquiring the company would further Bayer’s goal of identifying and providing the best-suited seeds, fertilizers, and chemicals for farms around the world. Signs of the transition to precision agriculture are obvious ,the use of drones providing bird’s-eye views of fields; mapping software locating underground water sources; sensor- laden tractors monitoring harvests in real time. It’s happening outside the fields, too. Cows’ meal portions are adjusted automatically based on their milk output. Infrared cameras identify chickens with fevers, protecting flocks. A software offers farmers recommendations on what to plant and where to plant it and farmers are very excited about new technology. Read
Investment into the poultry value chain just got a boost from the Nigerian government by injection of 25 billion naira through the national egg production scheme. NEGPRO scheme involves many farmers who are in the business of egg production. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth N25 billion on National Egg Production (NEGPRO) scheme, with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited. The selection of Tuns Farms to lead the group of farmers was based on certain criteria, essentially anchored on the track records of performance. Under the terms of the deal, Tuns Farms will recommend eligible entrepreneurs to access the N25 billion facility as well as, endorse their loan requirements and application, and monitor their activities within the scheme. The Bank of Industry(BOI) has a role in providing finance for the takeoff of the scheme, an initiative aimed at increasing egg production and giving the poultry sector in the country a boost. This will ensure that about 50 million table eggs daily by 2018. The scheme, which would be funded by BoI, would create one million jobs at full capacity. more
SunCulture designs and sells solar-powered irrigation systems that make it cheaper and easier for smallholder farmers to grow high-value fresh fruits and vegetables. The company’s AgroSolar Irrigation Kit increases farmer profit by $14,000 per acre per year — based on fuel, fertilizer, and labor savings and crop yield increases. SunCulture’s Co-Founders Samir Ibrahim (CEO) and Charlie Nichols (CTO) met in New York and launched SunCulture out of the New York University Stern Venture Competition. The company launched in mid-2013 and has since installed 500+ systems across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan. SunCulture was recently awarded $2m in funding from USAID’s Powering Agriculture program to support scaling up across the East African region. By 2030, the World Bank projects Africa’s farmers will create a trillion dollar agribusiness market if they can access the capital, knowledge and technology necessary to increase yields — which trail world averages by as much as 50%. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world — almost one in every four people is undernourished. However, Africa possesses 50% of the world’s unused arable land and can feed itself — and help feed the world too. In Kenya, where SunCulture operates, 75% of the labor force is engaged in agriculture and the sector contributes 30% of GDP. Smart farming technologies like SunCulture’s solar powered irrigation systems — which increase yields by up to 300% with 80% less water than traditional farming methods and use clean and affordable solar energy — present an exciting opportunity to sustain-ably address the yield gap on millions of smallholder African farms to improve food security and enhance economic growth.More
How A 2008 Field Organizer Became One Of Hillary Clinton's Top Directors.The unglamorous job of going door to door can teach you a lot about political leadership and organizing. Every morning Brynne Craig arrives at the Hillary Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn by 7 a.m. to do a load of campaign tasks—planning state outreach, reaching out to coalitions, prioritizing new small-scale projects—although they change everyday. This week, with the Democratic National Convention her schedule will be even crazier There she'll be keeping tabs on all the projects she currently mans while helping to facilitate the quadrennial conference. Craig is Clinton’s National Deputy Director of State Campaigns and Political Engagement She’s been working with the campaign on and off for nearly a decade. I recently chatted with her about her .Politics in 2016 is dizzying—social media has made it possible for more people to participate and for more constant barrages of voices. Honing this constantly changing landscape requires a knowledge of how to excite and engage people. trajectory. Field work and organizing, however, defined the political person she is today. To this day she says that being a field organizer was one of her best positions. "You had to go in everyday and organize a community. read
Joe Steffy, who was born with down syndrome and later diagnosed with autism, was told he would likely never be hired for a normal day job. Officials at his school told him he would struggle to communicate, have a difficult time caring for himself, and likely always be dependent on others. They were right about one of those things: Steffy may never be hired.That’s because he’s too busy running his own successful company. With help from his parents, Steffy, now 30, started Poppin Joe’s Gourmet Kettle Korn in 2005. “My business works for me,” Steffy said recently. “It creates new opportunities for me to grow as a person, and to be an engaged, valued member of my community.” Today, Steffy is a sole proprietor and employs seven seasonal workers. In 2016, he brought in $67,000 in gross sales (up more than four-fold from the $15,000 he made in 2005). Steffy shared his story with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Committee in May as part of a larger conversation in Washington about why it’s important for disabled Americans to be given more exposure to entrepreneurship opportunities. “The worst disability there is that of low expectations,” Steffy told the committee. “They said I would never hold a job, that I had no attention span, could not focus, would need to live in a group home and go to a sheltered workshop. My parents disagreed.”read
Small indoor farms in garage or bedroom are growing in popularity where vegetables and other plants are cultivated and used for salads or sandwiches and make millions are generated.This kind of farm has no fields, ploughs or even soil or sunlight. The new "vertical farm", as it is called, needs very little space and could even be located in the city. This is popularly referred to as vertical farming,the hydroponics system. This kind of farming is referred to as Controlled - environment agriculture (CEA) which means technology-based food production that provides protection to plants and maintains optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop. Production takes place within an enclosed growing structure such as a greenhouse or building with controlled parameters. Watch how they are producing greens in trays (http://MarxFoods.com/Farmbox-Greens) A vertical farm uses hydroponics technology with plants sitting in trays stacked vertically to save space.In hydroponics, plants are grown "using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil" (see Wikipedia here). The roots of the plant sit in water to which nutrients have been added and instead of sun, LED lights shine on the plants. The plants grown are called micro - greens and they take only two weeks to grow. The hydroponics system is a money spinner generating millions fro farmers that are using the technology in homes,bedrooms or even roof tops and how the technology can be adopted to ensure food security. See
Precision farming and digital agriculture will help the industry achieve this critical goal. Feeding the world’s ever increasing population is big business, but it’s also an imprecise business and as the world’s population grows, improving efficiency to lift crop yields is going to become a priority for farmers. Precision agriculture could lift crop yields 70% by 2050, creating a $240 billion market for farm tech over the same period.These figures are from a new research booklet on the topic of precision farming from Goldman Sachs. The investment bank believes that the precision farming market could offer a tremendous opportunity, for both farmers and investors. The global crop production value in 2015 was $1.2 trillion, but there’s also plenty of waste in the system. Figures show that 40% of farm fields are over fertilized resulting in a yield loss of 15% to 20% from inadequate fertilizer application. Yields could be increased by around 18% by using precision fertilizer technology. Also, precision planting could produce a 13% improvement in yield while a further 13% improvement could be achieved via a fleet of smaller automated tractors. (According to academic research cited by Goldman, soil compaction — a result of large farm equipment — has decreased yields by 15% to 20% over the years). Further, it is estimated that farmers could reduce wastewater by 50% with precision irrigation systems paired with water sensors leading to a 10% improvement in yield.Some of these technologies are already in action and will be developed and refined over the next few years to enhance the product offering.Some farmers are already making use of multi-seed planters, which have just started to enter commercial production. These planters give farmers the ability to combine properties of different seeds in one planting. Farmers have noted that are using two different seed types they can increase yields by around 3% to 8% by matching up the right seeds to the right soil types. Growers note that the optimal hybrid seed mix utilizes two seed types; an offensive and a defensive variety. more
Sunday, July 24, 2016
New technology has an important role to play in sustainable agriculture ,the vice president of precision solutions and telematics operations Marzia said, adding that one of the most important new developments in precision farming was the advent of telematics. An agricultural revolution that uses telematics data is creating new opportunities which will require open, secure and accessible data systems. Telematics allow for the wireless transfer of data from machines at work on the field to the farm office, enabling real time monitoring and two way communications, whether for the optimization of a single machine or that of all farming processes. Ian Beecher-Jones, a precision farming consultant noted that about 60% of Britain’s farmland is being managed by precision methods, which include sensor systems, cameras, drones, microphones, virtual field maps, analytics and GPS-guided tractors. These technologies – examples of the so-called internet of things – are fueling what is being called the agricultural revolution. Clive Blacker, an arable farmer from Yorkshire, recognized about 20 years ago that change was coming. “It was 1998,” he said, “and it came being sat on the tractor seat and realizing that there was so much variability in the fields. There are the good bits and the bad bits, and we were treating them all the same way. I thought that there were better solutions for this.” Blacker began to experiment with nascent technologies like yield mapping and, in 2004, set up a small business, Precision Decisions, to supply hardware to farmers. One of the technologies he markets is the N Sensor from the German firm, Yara, which he says is being used at 250 farms in the UK. The N Sensor gives an example of the kind of precision farming technology available to farmers today. It consists of a cab-mounted tool – imagine a surfboard bolted onto the roof of a tractor – that is equipped with sensors at either end. The sensors gaze outwards, analyzing the color of a growing crop. From this data the N Sensor determines its chlorophyll content and, by an extension of logic, the crop’s nitrogen requirement. The N Sensor then relays the data to a spreader, which, in turn, applies the required dose of fertilizer to a specific part of the field. A Defra report found that 22% of farmers have GPS steering systems, 20% do soil mapping, 16% variable rate application (using technology like the N Sensor) and 11% yield mapping. Although these numbers might seem low, precision techniques are mostly used by farmers with large acreages who have greater resources to invest in the technology and make it cost effective. The agricultural revolution involve smart farming , It involves the use of miniature robots moving up and down the fields, inspecting plants and tugging out weeds. There are weather dependent sprayers and drones that hovered in the sky, relaying data to the farmhouse where charts of fields were plotted at a central hub. Sensors on animals also relays data to central hub for effective monitoring of animals on the field and on farms for different parameters. CNH Industrial offers a range of precision farming solutions spanning the crop production phases of planting, growing, harvesting and planning through the company’s global agricultural machinery brands, Case IH and New Holland Agriculture. Visit
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Palm oil is the world’s most widely produced oil, and growing global demand has naturally increased the supply of PKC. While India, Europe and China are the major palm oil importing countries, the bulk of PKC exports go to New Zealand and Europe. All over West Africa, investments are being made in palm plantations and processing plants. Of the world’s 23 major producers of PKC, 10 are West African, accounting for some 370,000 metric tons annually. Nigeria leads with 75,000 metric tons, followed by Ghana with 56,000 and the Ivory Coast with 53,000. Small exporters account for the bulk of current export figures,this is expected to change quite soon, as bigger producers enter the market. The Siat Group, with palm plantations in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, raised Ghana’s output potential significantly when its local subsidiary, GOPDC, started the first production of pelletized PKC in 2014. Even though small farmers account for most palm oil and PKC production, big plantation investors are driving recent production increases. A significant amount of PKC is used domestically as cattle feed in Malaysia and Indonesia, where it is fed to feedlot cattle at very high levels. It is a common practice in Malaysia to produce complete feeds based on PKC, either as pellets, cubes or total mixed ration. PKC is widely known in West Africa as a viable feed ingredient, but until recently it has been mostly used as a source of energy and fiber in poultry, pig and fish rations. PKC has traditionally been used by small holders as a complimentary cattle feed source, its deployment in large herd cattle feed is a recent development. Experts believe that PKC has the potential to make West Africa self sufficient in beef production, and thus solve the major headache associated with dependence on Fulani herdsmen. West Africa also has the potential to substantially increase revenues from PKC exports. PKC has the potential to solve a major problem associated with beef supply in the sub-region. Most of West Africa’s beef consumption is supplied by semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen, originally from the Sahelian parts of Africa, who can now be found across West and Central Africa. In recent times, they have been involved in often violent clashes with farmers of towns and villages where they have driven their cattle, destroying crops and water sources. There are regular reports of criminal behavior among the herdsmen. In April, the Nigerian president ordered a crackdown on Fulani herdsmen who had killed scores of people across the nation. In Ghana, farmers and residents of various communities have often demanded action by government against armed Fulani herdsmen who have regularly destroyed crops, polluted water sources and committed various criminal offenses. And in March, 17 people died when Fulani herdsmen clashed with crop farmers in the northeastern town of Bouna in Cote d’Ivoire. Governments are seeking to establish ranches as means of solving this problem. On May 10, 2016, Nigeria’s Minister of State, Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, announced that the federal government was planning to establish cattle ranches to solve the problem of continuous clashes between the herdsmen and farmers. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, announced recently that government had imported grass seedlings from Brazil, to be grown at “massive grasslots” for feeding cattle. Agricultural experts, have criticized and even derided the idea. While government officials believe that the “massive grasslots” would start producing feed for cattle within two years, most informed observers say this is highly optimistic, given the major financial problems facing government, and the logistic issues involved in implementing such a scheme. They argue that Nigeria and its West African neighbors can solve this apparently intractable problem by deploying palm kernel cake in addition to their limited grassland resources. The viability of PKC, they state, is already proven, and it can be produced in vast quantities for local cattle production, and to increase export revenue. It is an interesting fact that, for many years, West Africans have used PKC and other agricultural by-products in dry season fattening of cattle in small feedlots, where cattle are fattened for 90 to 120 days. This is done to increase weight gain, carcass quality and carcass yield. Governments resolve to stop the cross-territorial herding of cattle,can be solved by PKC .A substantial amount PKC used within Malaysia and Indonesia is used to feed dairy cows ,while in Ghana dairy production is based on imported bulk milk products and Nigeria imports 75 percent.Continue
African lions and leopards are at risk from farmers retaliating over killed cattle, and an Australian scientist is trying to help.The beef herds are valuable in Botswana which is why conservation biologists are keen to minimize these wildlife/livestock conflicts. Tricking a lion into believing it has been spotted as it creeps up to attack a cow, could just save its life from angry cattle herders.Dr Neil Jordan is from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and the University of New South Wales where he lectures. He is working with farmers and the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust to further explore promising research that is changing the way lions and leopards look at cattle as prey. By painting intimidating eye-patterns on the behinds of cows, researchers hope to trick the big cats into thinking they have been seen.Dr Jordan calls this "psychological trickery"."Lions and leopards are ambush predators that rely on the element of surprise to sneak up and take down their prey. A small study of eye painting was conducted last year involving a beef cattle herd of 62 head.It showed promising signs.None of 23 cows that had eyes painted on their rumps were attacked, yet three of the 39 unpainted cows were killed by lions in a three month period. Continue