Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Paper mulches evaluated for commercial vegetable production

Paper mulches evaluated for commercial vegetable production

Polyethylene mulches, used widely in commercial vegetable production to improve crop yields and produce quality, have distinct disadvantages. Disposal options are limited, and plastic mulches often end up in landfills, being burned, or disposed of illegally. Recycling polyethylene mulches is also a challenge; the mulches used in large-scale vegetable production are contaminated with too much dirt and debris to be recycled directly from the field in most power plants and incinerators. Timothy Coolong from the University of Kentucky's Department of Horticulture published a report on paper mulches in HortTechnology that may give vegetable producers viable alternatives to polyethylene.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers

Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers

Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers
Xbox Live and the Achievement system kind of reinvented the high score list, letting you compete against your friends even when you're roaming solo through a stark, barren wasteland. It looks like Nissan is doing much the same with the Leaf -- but minus the bloatflies and the supermutants. As the cars are now rolling out to eager owners we're learning more about just what its Carwings system can do and another neat trick is the "Regional Rankings" page, where one driver's driving efficiency is rated against others in the area. There are bronze, silver, and gold medals up for grabs but, if you cover the thing with speed tape and only commute downhill, you might just be awarded the platinum award. What does that get you? Why, a little picture of a trophy, of course. What were you expecting?

Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 26 Dec 2010 15:21:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Create Energy Stepping

Create Energy Stepping

This fancy little object goes by the name “Slide” and with it, you can generate energy walking up and down steps. By simply placing your hand upon the green and pushing it along the railing aside the stairs you’re walking on, you’ll generate energy! With that energy, the several arrohead-shaped LEDs in the object are lit so that you might see where you’re going in a power outage or other emergency situation!

So simple! Watch this design spread across the internet now – the most virally ready designs are the same ones that follow the Pop Art jealous critic manifesto: “I could have thought of that” “Yeah, but you didn’t!” Well played, trio of designers.

This project is a 2010 LiteOn design award winenr!

Designers: ShuoYang, Bolong Huang and Qiao Yang

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Yanko Design
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IIDA Entry Makes Fresh Water

IIDA Entry Makes Fresh Water

C-Water is one of those concepts that’s too good of an idea not to share. An entry in the Incheon International Design Awards, C-Water boasts water purification possibilities using a simple distillation technique. The power source? The sun. The slim, yet stackable object can float on any calm water surface. Fresh water gets collected in a separate reservoir and the whole thing is compact enough to go portable. Looks like Designboom is spreading the word too.

Designer: Chao Gao

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Yanko Design
Timeless Designs - Explore wonderful concepts from around the world!
Yanko Design Store - We are about more than just concepts. See what's hot at the YD Store!

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Inhabitat's Week in Green: electric cars compared, molten salt solar, and a renewable Merry Christmas!

Inhabitat's Week in Green: electric cars compared, molten salt solar, and a renewable Merry Christmas!

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Electric vehicles took the country by storm this week as both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt were officially released to eager customers - if you're still trying to decide between the two, check out our electric vehicle smackdown, which compares the two EVs based on their most important features. We also took a spin inside Honda's electric Fit, and we showcased a futuristic home decked out with enough solar panels to completely charge an EV. The Sonex airplane also signaled bright horizons for electric aviation as it completed its maiden flight.

Meanwhile California lit up the newswires by giving the green light for the state's first molten salt solar energy project, and San Francisco announced a plan to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. We also saw ten European countries forge a plan to build a massive renewable energy supergrid in the North Sea, and we showcased two hot examples of wearable teach that harness body heat - Fujitsu's solar-thermal power band and a band-aid styled mp3 player.

Finally, this week Inhabitat geared up for the holidays by showcasing 6 brands of dazzling LED christmas lights that save you energy and money, we showcased some innovative Christmas trees made with unusual materials, and we highlighted out favorite green gadget gifts for the holidays this year. And when all those presents are unwrapped we know exactly what to do with the aftermath - researchers have developed a way to recycle 100% of the material in plastic wrapping paper and artist Jason Rogenes wowed us with his incredible futuristic spaceships made from the styrofoam used to package electronics.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: electric cars compared, molten salt solar, and a renewable Merry Christmas! originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 19 Dec 2010 22:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vatican Praises Genetically Modified Crops, While U.S. Judge Orders Their Destruction

Vatican Praises Genetically Modified Crops, While U.S. Judge Orders Their Destruction

It's been a strange few days in the world of genetically modified food. For the first time, a judge has ordered the destruction of a GMO crop, saying it was planted in violation of a previous ruling. Meanwhile, Vatican science advisers are urging support for GMO crops, saying scientists have a moral duty to help the world's poor.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ordered the removal of genetically modified sugar beet stecklings from hundreds of acres of farm fields, saying the U.S. Department of Agriculture improperly gave permission for their planting. Sugar beet stecklings are planted in the fall, uprooted during the winter, and replanted to produce seed.

Last fall, White ruled the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by allowing the plantings without analyzing their potential impacts on the environment and human health. This August, he said no more GMO beets could be planted until a NEPA review was done. But some stecklings were still planted in Arizona and Oregon, prompting the environmental law group Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety to file suit in September. White's latest ruling answers that lawsuit and orders the GMO stecklings to be removed from the ground.

In 2010, 95 percent of the nation's sugar beets were genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer developed by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. Half the nation's sugar comes from sugar beets, which are sliced and boiled into a syrupy mash. In January 2008, public interest groups sued to challenge the USDA's deregulation of the crop, starting a cascade of legal action that led to Tuesday's ruling.

Environmental groups note that the proliferation of herbicide-resistant plants has led to superweeds, that the use of chemicals can pollute land and water and that genetically modified crops have not been sufficiently studied. But Monsanto and other GM food advocates argue "Roundup Ready" beets and other crops allow farmers to avoid tilling their land to remove weeds, and that genetic modification in general can improve crop yields and provide tolerance to pests and drought.

The Vatican is apparently on their side. In a statement (PDF) this week, Vatican science advisers said opposition to GM crops in developed countries is unjustified. The Pontifical Academy expressed provisional support for GM crops 10 years ago, and the statement is the result of a week-long meeting in May 2009 at the Vatican, convened by a Swiss scientist who helped develop vitamin A-enhanced golden rice.

Academy member Peter Raven, immediate past president of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis (which has received funds from hometown firm Monsanto), told New Scientist although the global community will never have a unified official line on GM crops, "Our statement is about as close as you can get to one."

The 14-page document makes the case for GM crops as a way to feed the world, and says it's no more dangerous than evolution:

"The possible evolutionary risks of genetic engineering events cannot be greater than the risks of the natural process of biological evolution or of the application of chemical mutagenesis."

The academy even tackles the question of whether scientists are "playing God" by messing with nature, and the answer is no: "New human forms of intervention in the natural world should not be seen as contrary to the natural law that God has given to the Creation."

Vatican law or American law, this debate is far from over.

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Strawberry-Pickin' Robot Only Picks the Red Berries [Video]

Strawberry-Pickin' Robot Only Picks the Red Berries [Video]

Strawberry-Pickin' Robot Only Picks the Red BerriesYet another field of expertise has been wiped out by some steel pincers—strawberry-pickers. Japan's robot detects which berries are at least 80 per cent red, and picks them gently off the vine.

It's being trained to pick other forms of berries, but if the 'bot gets to the point where it can be released safely into the wilds of strawberry farms, it'll supposedly reduce harvest time by 40 per cent. That means fewer jobs for humans, and even more 'bots handling our sweet little bombs of juice. The future is definitely mechanical—and doomed. [DigInfo via Technabob]

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NRG and SunPower partner on 250-megawatt solar plant, plan to power 100,000 California homes

NRG and SunPower partner on 250-megawatt solar plant, plan to power 100,000 California homes

NRG Solar (get it?) and SunPower -- neither of which are strangers to extracting juice from that glowing ball of fire in our sky -- have just linked up to build one of the world's largest photovoltaic solar plants. The tandem will start construction in San Luis Obispo County next year, creating around 350 jobs in the process and helping California inch ever closer to realizing its 33 percent renewable portfolio standard. The 250-megawatt plant still pales in comparison to a few others (namely this guy in Arizona), but it dwarfs the vast majority of factories in operation today. The project is expected to stretch out for three or four years, but when all is said and done, around 100,000 homes (yeah, even the home of one Vincent Chase) will be given sun-sourced energy thanks to this here installation. That said, the actual energy bills for Californians everywhere probably won't sink -- but hey, at least you're throwing Ma Earth a well-deserved bone, right?

Continue reading NRG and SunPower partner on 250-megawatt solar plant, plan to power 100,000 California homes

NRG and SunPower partner on 250-megawatt solar plant, plan to power 100,000 California homes originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 01 Dec 2010 09:06:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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