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Solid Rain: Fighting Water Scarcity

    Fruits and vegetables    17/12/2018

Water scarcity continues to increase worldwide. According to the United Nations, about 700 million people in 43 countries suffer from this calamity caused by over-exploitation of water resources with irrigation of agricultural land to increase production when rains are scarce.

Mexican scientist Sergio Jesús Rico Velasco of the National Polytechnic Institute invented "Solid Rain" and founded the company "Silos de Agua" in 2002 to market his product. Slowly but surely the news of his invention came into the world, opening a new window of hope for many countries around the world, including Russia, India, Ivory Coast, Colombia, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Peru and, of course, Mexico; who began experimenting with the new product to alleviate water scarcity for agriculture. In 2012, Rico Velasco was nominated for the World Water Prize.

The magic of "solid rain," a potassium acrylate-based compound, is to store 300 times, up to 500 times its own weight in water, without causing damage to the environment, nor triggering toxic chemical reactions, regardless of soil type or substrate. The product looks like a white powdered sugar, but is made of ultra-absorbent potassium polyacrylate that Rico Velasco and other scientists call "water silos."

Then, as an alternative to reducing water resources, this product stores rainwater and has the advantage that it can be stored anywhere, even in burlap sacks, because rainwater molecules adhere to potassium polyacrylate, which allows rain gelatinization in agricultural fields.

How it works? Solid rain encapsulates and disperses water during its life span, ranging from 8 to 10 years, helps aerate the soil and allows for agriculture in extreme climates and locations with poor soil conditions.

The ideal proportion of use is four "bags", each containing the equivalent of one liter of water. The comparative cost is minimal because the "powder" sufficient for one hectare is priced at around one thousand dollars.

Solid rain can provide enough water for plants for a maximum of ten years at a time, avoiding water stress and evaporation. In addition, solid rain particles can be rehydrated with each crop cycle.

How is this used? Farmers need to mix 20 grams of solid rain with a liter of water and then mix it in the soil. Then plant your seeds.

According to Solid Rain Corporation of San Diego, California, the product is able to save between 50 and 80 percent water depending on the climate and soil conditions and 30 to 50 percent of the water use in greenhouses .

Source: impactjournalismday.com

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Cargo robot increases employee productivity up to 30%

    Fruits and vegetables    16/12/2018

The robotic startup Augean Robotics came up with Burro, a robot version of a small donkey that can carry up to 227 kilos to an agricultural worker, boosting productivity by 20 to 30 percent, according to the company.

"We have a car that follows, learns routes and re-runs them on its own," says Charlie Andersen, CEO of Startup, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "There could be a consumer iteration in the future."

Augean Roboticschose agriculture because the industry is poised for robots that can help people who are working outdoors, picking fruits and vegetables. The donkey works as a virtual conveyor belt accompanying the workers, handling the load autonomously and capturing data to further automate agricultural work.

"We are finding that in many hand-picked crops - such as table grapes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - every person who reaps walks several miles a day carrying heavy packages back and forth," Andersen explains.

"With a single Burro going up and down lines autonomously, a group of people can harvest 20 to 30 percent more products a day, aided by a virtual conveyor belt running what has been programmed for a collection point."

A farm worker can walk three to five miles a day, eventually pushing more than 80 pounds of harvested produce back to a central location, then starting over. The Donkey can track the workers, approach when a wheelbarrow is full, take what has been picked up to the central location, and repeat the process. The robot learns how it works and can be expanded to perform more and more tasks autonomously over time.

"Each donkey we build is camera-packed, connected to the cloud, has GPS, can run deep learning models and can be expanded with autonomous attachments to do everything from cargo transport, local spraying to pruning and harvesting," explains Andersen .

Over the next six months, the startup plans to run paid field tests and testing with producer partners to help refine the Donkey. By mid-2019, Augean will be on the market with the first robot that producers can buy. Augean plans to sell Donkeys for about $ 10,000 each, plus shipping and signing fees to keep them online. Andersen estimates that the device will be able to pay with increased productivity in less than a year.


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Robotization in sorting and packaging of fruits and vegetables

    Fruits and vegetables    15/12/2018

"Fruit and vegetable production is still increasing in the Netherlands. Here, the demand for cheaper labor continues to play an important role. The use of robots can significantly reduce the cost involved in the sorting and packaging process, "says Jan Nijland, director of the Dutch company Greefa.

"We therefore developed a robot called SmartPackr. This robot packs fruits in a specific way. In this case, the fruit is packed with the red color of the fruit facing upwards. The stems are also all facing the same direction. The first of these robots was bought this year by several customers. These customers are based both locally and abroad. "

Greefa is based in the Dutch city of Tricht. It was initially a machine manufacturing company. They made machines for sorting and packing fruit and vegetables. Jan says: "Innovation is a priority for us. We have increasingly moved from a machine building company to one that primarily works on software development. This year we introduced the first robots that can sort and pack apples. "

"We deliver machines internationally, to countries like New Zealand, Canada and South Africa," he adds. According to Jan, Greefa is the market leader in the area of fruit and vegetable grading technology. "We also want it to stay that way."

Technology does not restrict one to machines. In recent years, the focus has been mainly on recording all potentially important data in the sorting and packaging process. Information may be relevant to producers, cooperatives and, ultimately, to consumers.

Food safety and quality play a crucial role in international fruit and vegetable trade. "That's why it's important to contribute to the total traceability process. We can do this with our sorting and packaging solutions, "concludes Jan.

Source: Fruitpact

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Robot to grow vegetables in your backyard

    Fruits and vegetables    12/12/2018

FarmBot is basically precision farming for people.When he launched the FarmBot project in 2011, founder Rory Aronson wanted to find a way to bring the benefits of conventional farming to the common man without the high price.

Precision farming typically involves technology such as self-steering tractors and aerial drones that can make better use of resources. Historically, it has been the territory of industrial farmers. But thanks to Aronson, anyone with little space and (considerably less) money can get involved in food production.

A visual interface allows you to "plan your garden as a video game". So the fact that the interface looks a bit like FarmVille is no coincidence. You can drag and drop plants into virtual terrain (below), build care regiments and even chase away birds.

After the garden is planned, the machine plants seeds, measures the moisture content of the soil and irrigates, and can detect and destroy weeds. E-mail alerts inform the user when the vegetables are ready for harvest.

FarmBot Genesis currently stands at $ 2,595 on the company's website. FarmBot Genesis XL, which allows you to grow an 80% larger area, costs $ 3,795.

Meanwhile, FarmBot is making its way to universities and nonprofits. The company is also working with NASA to develop food production on Mars, the Moon and deep space.


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NASA technology allows faster harvests

    Fruits and vegetables    10/12/2018

The technology used by NASA to grow plants in space allows to accelerate, improve and prevent pests in plantations on land

THENASAcreated a new technology to allow cultivation on other planets with a view to establishing colonies on Mars or another planet in the future. Now a group of scientists at the John Innes Center, the Earlham Institute, the Quadram Institute in the UK and the University of Queensland have tested the application of this technology in terrestrial cultures.

They applied thenew technologyin agreenhouseat theJohn Innes Centerin Norwick (United Kingdom).Rapid genetic improvementwas made using shorter growth and harvest cycles,best LED lighting. The search,published in the scientific journal Nature Protocols, shows that this cultivation method can produce disease-resistant, climate-resilient, and more nutritious crops to feed a growing world population.

This technique uses improved LED lighting anddaily regimes of up to 22 hours to optimize photosynthesis and promote rapid crop growth. Accelerate the plant breeding cycle: for example, you can grow six wheat crops in a year, well above two harvests per year, obtained with improved traditional farming methods.

By shortening breeding cycles, the method allows scientists and plant breeders to make accelerated genetic improvements, such as increased yield, disease resistance and tolerance to climate change in a variety of crops, such as wheat, barley and peas.

Rapid breeding enables researchers to mobilize extreme genetic variations found in wild relatives of crops and introduce them to elite varieties that farmers can grow. The EU decision that largely regulates gene modification means that we rely more on rapid breeding to develop stronger and more vigorous crops.

Dr. Wulff's team at John Innes Center developed techniques such as rapid gene discovery and gene cloning that, along with rapid replication, would allow cultures to be improved through a non-transgenic route.


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Expiration date of food will undergo a revolution

    Fruits and vegetables    07/12/2018

The new automated supermarket price system promises to reduce food waste, reduce consumer prices and increase profits for supermarkets

About half of all food produced in the world is wasted every year. That's about two billion tons of food worth billions of dollars. It's a shocking statistic, and in the end, it's not just supermarkets or food producers that pay the price - we are all of us. A hungry planet with limited resources, a high carbon footprint and rapid changes in climate can not afford to throw food in the trash.

A new Israeli startup, the Wasteless , hopes to help cut some of that junk with a new artificial intelligence system that will transform the way supermarkets address the expiration dates of food.

"Food expiration dates are a major cause of retail waste and the cost is huge for both business and the environment," says Oded Omer, a co-founder of Wasteless. "Food is the largest individual product in landfills, where it emits extremely harmful gases, including methane."

Wasteless, founded in 2017, has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can offer customers a variable price system based on the expiration date of a product. A box of milk that expires in a few days will cost less than one due in 10 days.

It sounds simple, but the technology behind it is not. The Wasteless pricing engine employs a machine learning branch called booster learning, which automatically maps product stock and time of day into a series of great prices.

The system operates on the basis of inventory, orders and sales and performs pricing decisions that are then delivered to the end consumer through electronic store shelf tags or during the online payment process.

With a deep knowledge of dynamic pricing - a function we all use when booking a flight, a hotel or a Uber, among other things - the Wasteless team, made up of experienced entrepreneurs and AI experts, believes that this platform can be used not only to increase the profitability of a product, but also to help reduce food waste.

Source: israel21c.org


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Autonomous Australian Weed Control Robot

    Fruits and vegetables    04/12/2018

"Australian agricultural production is increasing to meet the food demands of a growing global population. To maximize our agricultural potential, we need to look for nontraditional and technology-assisted agricultural methods. Farmers are looking for more efficient ways to deliver quality products, ensuring long-term sustainability in a globally competitive industry. "

"AgBot II can save the Australian agricultural sector about $ 1.3 billion a year by reducing weeding costs by about 90 percent. By developing equipment that can be produced at a lower cost per unit than traditional machines, farmers will be able to acquire multiple robots to operate simultaneously in the field. The robot is also powered by solar energy, which means a reduction in fuels and emissions. "

"Agbot II works efficiently and autonomously, eliminating the possibility of human error and performing a series of monotonous and time-consuming tasks. Robots are also designed to work in groups, increasing the reliability of the operation: if a mechanical failure occurs, additional machines can continue to operate. "

"In June 2015, the AgBot II prototype tests were conducted at the Queensland government's Redlands Research Station with excellent results. In these field tests, it achieved a global success rate in weed detection and classification above 90%, demonstrated the success of localized spraying of selected weed species, and used a robotic spade to mechanically remove weeds from the soil . "

Source: Queensland University of Technology


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"Magical Sticker" keeps fruit fresh for 14 days longer

    Fruits and vegetables    03/12/2018

"In the US alone, from the farm to the cold store, 52 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables are wasted. That is an annual loss of tens of billions of dollars. It's time for Stixfresh, the natural way to safely and easily extend the fruit's life in up to 14 days. "

"Freshly harvested products take a long time to reach retailers. In addition to the time-consuming shipping process, it is a constant struggle to ensure that the product arrives in the best possible condition. For retailers, these losses equate to lower margins, which represents a disaster for cash flow. "

"With the alarming amount of fruit wasted due to the short shelf life around the world, farmers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers feel the negative financial effects. Think about it. Who could not benefit from a natural way of keeping fresh fruit any longer? Consumers deserve and demand a broad selection of high quality fresh fruit at a good value, and it is the responsibility of the global production industry. "

StixFresh sticker are coated with a mixture of sodium chloride and beeswax, which delays the fruit ripening process by removing ethylene from the air around the product.

"To use the product, simply detach and place Stixfresh sticker on pears, avocados, dragon fruits, kiwis, mangoes, oranges and other citrus fruits to help keep them firm, sweet and juicy. Keep your fruit fresh longer without chemicals. The materials used in the stickers are 100% natural, fully approved and are so safe that you can eat them. "

Source: stixfresh.com


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All-electric "Tesla" ships to be launched this year

    Logistics    01/12/2018

PortLiner is introducing 100% CO2-free vessels. With the new battery technology and the specific application developed by the company for the land transport of containers, for the first time the "zero emission"Has become a viable option.

Due to rapid current developments in sustainability, specifically in the area of ​​zero-emission mobility, PortLiner constantly checks and reviews new technologies and innovations.

In addition to an all-electric battery solution, PortLiner recognizes the long-term relevance of hydrogen. PortLiner's technological solution allows the smooth introduction of hydrogen as soon as it becomes technically and economically feasible. In fact, the company has already started developing an integrated battery / hydrogen solution. Depending on the segment and market and the area of ​​operation, there will be opportunities for complete battery and hydrogen / battery applications. The flexibility of PortLiner's "E-Powerbox" concept allows tailor-made solutions.

PortLiner is developing its own craft, but has developed a battery technology that lodges the batteries inside a container. PortLiner's chief executive Ton van Meegen said, "This allows us to modernize the barges already in operation, which is a major boost to the green energy credentials of the industry. Containers are loaded ashore by Eneco's carbon-free energy provider, which supplies solar, windmills and renewable energy. "

PortLiner is fully committed to the goals of sustainable business development. It has created an ecological solution for inland waterway logistics and has a long-term vision for the future. At this stage, the company is years ahead of any competition in this specific field and is setting standards for ground transportation of "zero emission"For the next few years.

Source: portliner.nl


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Stand-alone system moves birds away and prevents crop losses

    Fruits and vegetables    28/11/2018

The Agrilaser Autonomic is a fully automated system that distances birds, and once configured allows to move them away continuously.

The principle of repelling birds with a laser beam was inspired by nature. Birds perceive the approach of the laser beam as a form of threat. And they appeal to the instinct of survival, moving away from the place.

The areas are protected 24 hours a day, every day, avoiding the presence of birds. It has easy installation in any required situation, is safe for both people and birds and has multiple power sources. The Agrilaser is powered by alternating current by default. To operate it in areas that do not have a power grid, it can be equipped with an additional solar charging system.

Bird Control Group, the developer company of Agrilaser, has deepened its studies over a long period of time to develop the best laser beam. And this was only possible due to the application of a combination of optics, filtering and highly accurate light frequencies. The laser operates at an effective distance of up to 2500 meters, being a clean and noise-free solution.

Agrilaser Autonomic comes with intuitive software, allowing for simple and fast setup. The flexible nature of Agrilaser Autonomic allows you to set up to 3 time zones and 16 different zones, repelling the birds at times and locations according to need.

Source: birdcontrolgroup.com


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