Aria Bendix, provided by Published 11:58 am PDT, Wednesday, October 3, 2018 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images An energy startup called Pivot Bio raised $70 million for its genetically modified bacteria, which help cut down on the use of nitrogen fertilizer. In addition to using up energy and polluting rivers and streams, nitrogen fertilizer releases a greenhouse gas that's 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. With its latest round of funding, Pivot Bio plans to introduce a product for US corn farmers, before moving on to other crops like wheat and rice. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria may not sound like the most alluring topic, but it's capturing the attention of the world's most influential billionaires, who see it as a concrete way to help save the planet. If the technology pans out, this long-dormant bacteria could alter the future of energy and agriculture by reducing environmental pollution, protecting the world's marine ecosystem, lowering production … [Read more...] about Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and other billionaires are betting on a bacteria that could change the way we grow food
Like any self-respecting farmer, Zachary Lippman was grumbling about the weather. Stout, with close-cropped hair and beard, Lippman was standing in a greenhouse in the middle of Long Island, surrounded by a profusion of rambunctiously bushy plants. “Don’t get me started,” he said, referring to the late and inclement spring. It was a Tuesday in mid-April, but a chance of snow had been in the forecast, and a chilly wind blew across the island. Not the sort of weather that conjures thoughts of summer tomatoes. But Lippman was thinking ahead to sometime around Memorial Day, when thousands of carefully nurtured tomato plants would make the move from the greenhouse to Long Island loam. He hoped the weather would finally turn. Although he worked on a farm as a teenager and has a romantic attachment to the soil, Lippman isn’t a farmer. He’s a plant biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York with an expertise in genetics and development. And … [Read more...] about Crispr Can Speed Up Nature—and Change How We Grow Food
NASA's International Space Station. Photo: Shutterstock A team of scientists in Norway are set to research the possibility of growing plants and food crops in outer space, it was revealed on Friday. A new EU-funded research project is set to 'take-off' researching how food plants grow in space and how the horticulture could supply space travellers with oxygen and food. The 10-year project called TIME SCALE will be led by Ann-Iren Kittang Jost, research chief at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The research team has not yet decided what plants they will try and grow, but are looking at tomatoes, lettuce and soybeans. The Trondheim research unit has been trying to grow plants in space since 2006. Under the Norwegian research team's guidance, plant growing experiments were carried out at the International Space Station (ISS). The research focused on the flowering weed, … [Read more...] about Norway to grow food crops in space
The Sahara — the world’s biggest hot desert — is getting even bigger. In fact, it is currently about 10 percent larger than it was nearly a century ago, and scientists suggest that climate change is partly responsible. In a new study, researchers examined rainfall data gathered across Africa, consulting records dating back to 1920 and noting how changing conditions affected regions around the boundaries of the great desert. They discovered that while some natural climate cycles could partly explain reduced rainfall and desert expansion southward, human-driven climate change is also playing a part. And if climate change continues unchecked, the Sahara's slow growth will likely continue, the study authors reported. [The Sahara: Facts, Climate and Animals of the Desert] Previously, scientists had explored the Sahara's expansion by examining satellite data dating back to the 1980s. This study, which was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, is … [Read more...] about The Sahara Desert Is Growing. Here’s What That Means
In The Martian, a stranded NASA astronaut is forced to turn a planned four-week mission on the surface of Mars into a marathon for survival. His only chance to have enough food to last until he's rescued is to turn his habitat into a space farm, using the only crop he has available: potatoes.Space farming researcher Bruce Bugbee tells PM that the story gets it pretty much right. Bugbee, who runs the Crop Physiology Lab at Utah State University, has been studying how to grow food crops on spaceships for NASA for the last 30 years. "Are you nuts? We haven't ever tried that before. We'd need 30, 40 crops at the minimum." Advertisement - Continue Reading Below Let's start with fictional astronaut Mark Watney's crop itself: If you're forced to rely on just one crop to grow in a space habitat, "potatoes are a good choice," Bugbee says. "They're a good producer of carbohydrates and they can be a big part of the diet." Of course, the nutritionists with whom Bugbee and his … [Read more...] about Can You Actually Grow Potatoes on Mars?