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Author Topic: Sustainable Farming  (Read 7659 times)

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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2015, 06:00:39 pm »

$300 Underground Greenhouse Grows Your Food Year-Round 

Lorraine Chow | December 15, 2015 11:27 am

Excellent article plus videos!


Agelbert Comment: This is the type of common sense that should be fostered by the government at ALL levels. This type of greenhouse should be exempt from all town ordinances and NOT require approval or some permit.

« Last Edit: December 15, 2015, 07:22:08 pm by AGelbert »
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2015, 08:05:57 pm »

Food and Empowerment

37 different crops are growing on a 2-acre farm within Rouge Park, Detroit.

A coalition group called the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
 is hard at work both growing the food- and planting the seeds for social change.

"We're not interested in plans where the corporate sector comes in and uses the majority of the population as workers. We're concerned about control and ownership. We want to model not only the growing techniques but model the kind of social and political economic dynamic that we think are appropriate for a city like Detroit"  says Malik Yakini, chairman of the network.

 In this video, he gives a tour of D-Town Farm, one of Detroit's biggest urban farms. The mission: to offer fresh produce, and build food security in Detroit's black community.

 --Bibi Farber

 This video was produced by Democracy Now.
- See more at: http://www.nextworldtv.com/videos/urban-initiatives/urban-farming-in-detroit.html#sthash.b2KIdgBo.dpuf
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2016, 02:18:42 pm »
Two Indoor Farm Startups Stand Up to Alaska’s Short Growing Season

Lorraine Chow | January 5, 2016 10:09 am

How do you turn Alaska’s icy tundras into lush, year-round farms? Two forward-thinking startups just might have found the solution: growing indoors.

Alaska Natural Organics and Vertical Harvest Hydroponics are two separate Anchorage-based indoor farm startups standing up to Alaska’s short growing seasons by using hydroponics. With this soil- and pesticide-free farming technique, plants are grown in nutrient-rich water under blue and red LED lights that mimic sunlight.

Vertical Harvest Hydroponics repurposes old shipping containers to grow food year-round and provide fresh greens to Alaskans. Photo credit: Vertical Harvest Hydroponics

Alaska Natural Organics—the state’s first commercial vertical farm—is growing fresh greens in tall stacks inside an old dairy warehouse in Anchorage. Meanwhile, Vertical Harvest Hydroponics designs and builds customizable “Containerized Growing Systems,” which are self-contained hydroponic farms inside a transportable, 40-foot shipping container.

While their farming approaches are very different, the two companies have similar ambitions. Each fills Alaska’s fresh food gap by cutting the distance that food has to travel to Anchorage’s plates, all while providing healthy, nutritious food options to residents.

Due to weather constraints on the growing season, Alaska imports approximately 95 percent of its food. Its produce comes from farms in California or Mexico—fruits and vegetables are picked before ripening so it doesn’t spoil during its many weeks of transport, The New York Times reported.

Consequently, fresh produce is usually much pricier for Alaskans. “I’ve seen $10 heads of lettuce in stores, so I think the economics of this project will work,” Danny Consenstein, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm service agency in Alaska, told Alaska Dispatch News.

CGS (containerized Growing Systems) video

The Vertical Harvest units, which cost around $100,000 each, come with heating systems, shelves and electricity to support LED growing lights, co-founder Linda Janes told Alaska Dispatch News.

In all, the units are capable of producing 1,800 plants at a time in mineral-rich water without soil, Janes said. So far, the company has sold two units in Anchorage.

Alaska Natural Organics has also marked its first deliveries, with roughly 100 basil plants delivered to a handful of Alaskan grocery stores in the first week of December 2015, the Associated Press reported.

According to KTVA Alaska, when operations at Alaska Natural Organics are finally running at full capacity, the 5,000-square-foot organic farm will be able to house 20,000 plants.

Alaska Natural Organics founder and owner Jason Smith told KTVA Alaska that he plans to expand his company into rural areas across the state where fresh vegetables are even harder to come by.

“If I could say, 10 years from now, I played a role in helping to stabilize the food system in Alaska, that’s something I’d be very proud of,” Smith said.

Local grocers, restaurants and food companies have already expressed excitement about the prospects of Smith’s year-round greens, according to the Associated Press.

Susie Winford of Alaska Coastal Catering catered two events in November 2015 using small heads of organic lettuce from Smith. They were harvested only an hour before they were delivered and had no dirt to clean off since they were hydroponically grown.

“[The] only complaint we had from a client was that it was too pretty to eat,” ;D Winford said.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #33 on: January 10, 2016, 09:25:56 pm »
Syntropy Gives Us Hope For a Better Future 

"WE don't have poor soils, We have IMPROPER farming practices". 
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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #34 on: January 11, 2016, 02:13:35 pm »
14 Edible Plants You Can Grow Indoors 

Elizabeth King, Pound Place | January 11, 2016 11:01 am

Many of us dream of having our own vegetable patch, but it can be challenging to find the ideal space—and that’s assuming you have a garden at all. If you don’t then you’re in luck, you don’t need a large outdoor plot to grow all your ideal crops, for many edible plants all you need is a sunny spot inside. 

The idea of growing an indoor farm, full of healthy food you can spoil yourself with over summer may sound too good to be true. But with a little love and care, whether you live in a house or a flat, you can grow a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and even edible flowers ready for your next dinner party—guaranteed to impress.

But the benefits don’t stop there, growing your own greenery will give the satisfaction of harvesting your own foodstuff, save you money and added health benefits making your five a day a walk in the park. You might even start replacing that takeaway pizza with home-grown vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals.

You can grow almost any plants indoors with a loving hand,
best growth occurs in areas that receive plenty of sunlight, such as windowsills. But for those of you who just don’t have a sunny spot to make the most of, grow lights can allow you to cultivate your edible plants in even the darkest of corners.

Although growing conditions vary from plant to plant, a few general rules should be followed. If you’re starting completely from scratch, sowing seeds on moistened soil, covered with plastic wrap and kept in a warm area will get your plants off to the best possible start. Also ensuring all pots and containers have drainage holes or a layer of grit to prevent root rot and overwatering will make sure your plants stay strong and healthy.

For more on edible plants you can grow indoors–including sowing and harvesting times—check out our helpful infographic below.


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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2016, 06:42:29 pm »
Reinventing the Greenhouse

by Kris De Decker, originally published by Low-Tech Magazine   | Jan 5, 2016 
A Chinese greenhouse. Picture: Chris Buhler, Indoor Garden HQ.

The modern glass greenhouse requires massive inputs of energy to grow crops out of season. That's because each square metre of glass, even if it's triple glazed, loses ten times as much heat as a wall.

However, growing fruits and vegetables out of season can also happen in a sustainable way, using the energy from the sun. Contrary to its fully glazed counterpart, a passive solar greenhouse is designed to retain as much warmth as possible.

Research shows that it's possible to grow warmth-loving crops all year round with solar energy alone, even if it's freezing outside. The solar greenhouse is especially successful in China, where many thousands of these structures have been built during the last decades.

The quest to produce warm-loving crops in temperate regions initially didn't involve any glass at all. In Northwestern Europe, Mediterranean crops were planted close to specially built "fruit walls" with high thermal mass, creating a microclimate that could be 8 to 12°C (14 to 22°F) warmer than an unaltered climate.

Later, greenhouses built against these fruit walls further improved yields from solar energy alone. It was only at the very end of the nineteenth century that the greenhouse turned into a fully glazed and artificially heated building where heat is lost almost instantaneously -- the complete opposite of the technology it evolved from.

During the oil crises of the 1970s, there was a renewed interest in the passive solar greenhouse. [7] However, the attention quickly faded when energy prices came down again, and the all-glass greenhouse remained the horticultural workhorse of the Northwestern world. The Chinese, on the other hand, built 800,000 hectare of passive solar greenhouses during the last three decades -- that's 80 times the surface area of the largest glasshouse industry in the world, that of the Netherlands.

The Chinese Greenhouse

The Chinese passive solar greenhouse has three walls of brick or clay. Only the southern side of the building consists of transparant material (usually plastic foil) through which the sun can shine. During the day the greenhouse captures heat from the sun in the thermal mass of the walls, which is released at night.

At sunset, an insulating sheet -- made of straw, pressed grass or canvas -- is rolled out over the plastic, increasing the isolating capacity of the structure. The walls also block the cold, northern winds, which would otherwise speed up the heat loss of the greenhouse.

Chinese style greenhouse

Chinese greenhouses. Picture: HortTechnology.
(at link http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-01-05/reinventing-the-greenhouse)

Being the opposite of the energy-intensive glass greenhouse, the Chinese passive solar greenhouse is heated all-year round with solar energy alone, even when the outdoor temperature drops below freezing point. The indoor temperature of the structure can be up to 25°C (45°F) higher than the outdoor temperature.

The incentive policy of the Chinese government has made the solar greenhouse a cornerstone of food production in central and northern China. One fifth of the total area of greenhouses in China is now a solar greenhouse. By 2020, they are expected to take up at least 1.5 million hectares. [1]

Improving the Chinese Greenhouse

The first Chinese-style greenhouse was built in 1978. However, the technology only took off during the 1980s, following the arrival of transparent plastic foil. Not only is foil cheaper than glass, it is also lighter and doesn’t require a strong carrying capacity, which makes the construction of the structure much cheaper. Since then, the design has continuously been improved upon. The structure became deeper and taller, allowing sunlight to be distributed better and ensuring that temperature fluctuations are decreased.

A: The original design from the 1980s with a glass canopy. B: An improved design from the mid-1980s, with plastic foil, a night curtain, and better insulated walls. This design is the most widespread. C: An improved design from 1995. The walls are thinner because they are insulated with modern materials. Automatic handling of the night curtain. D: The most recent design from 2007, which has a double roof for extra insulation.

In addition, cultivators are increasingly opting for modern insulation materials instead of using rammed earth or air cavities for the insulation of the walls, which saves space and/or improves the heat absorption characteristics of the structure. Synthetic insulation blankets, which are better suited for dealing with moisture, are also seeing increased use. The old-fashioned straw mats become heavier and insulate less when they become wet.

In some of the more recent greenhouses, the insulation blankets are rolled up and down automatically, and more sophisticated ventilation systems are used. Some greenhouses have a double roof or reflecting insulation installed. In addition, the plastic foil used for the greenhouses — obviously the least sustainable component of the system — is continuously being improved, resulting in a longer lifespan.

Performance of the Chinese Greenhouse

The performance of the Chinese greenhouse depends on its design, the latitude, and the local climate. A recent study observed three types of greenhouses in Shenyang, the capital of the Liaoning province. The city is at 41.8°N and is one of the most northern areas where the Chinese-style greenhouse is built (between latitudes 32°N and 43°N).

The research was conducted from the beginning of November to the end of March, the period during which the outside temperature drops below freezing. The average temperature in the coldest month is between -15°C and -18°C (5 to -0.4°F). [1]

Air cavities in a ruined solar greenhouse. Picture: Chris Buhler, Indoor Garden HQ.

The three greenhouses studied all have the same shape and dimensions (60 x 12.6 x 5.5 m), but the walls, the plastic foil, and the transparent layer vary. The simplest construction has walls of rammed earth and an inside layer of brick to increase the structures’ stability. The covering is a thin plastic film that is covered at night with a straw blanket.

The two other greenhouses have a northern wall of brick with extruded polystyrene foam as insulating material, whereby the width of the wall can be cut in half. They are also covered with a thicker PVC plastic foil. The best greenhouse adds to this a reflective coating on the insulation blanket, further reducing heat loss at night.

A Chinese greenhouse. Picture: Chris Buhler, Indoor Garden HQ.

The night curtain of a solar greenhouse: Energy Farms.

In the simplest greenhouse the temperatures dropped below the freezing point from early December until mid-January. Without extra heating, this greenhouse cannot grow any produce at this latitude. Only the most sophisticated greenhouse – with its reflecting insulation layer – succeeded in keeping the inside temperature above freezing at all times, using only solar energy.

What’s more, the temperature stayed above 10°C most of the time, which is the minimum temperature for the cultivation of warm season plants, like tomatoes and cucumbers. Of course, passive solar greenhouses in more southern locations would require less sophisticated insulation techniques to be operated without additional heating.

Solar Greenhouses in Northern Climates

If we go further north, similar solar passive greenhouses would require extra heating during the coldest months of the year, no matter how well they are insulated. Note that the farther north the greenhouse is located, the greater its slope will be. The slope of the roof is angled to be perpendicular to the sun's rays when it's lowest on the horizon.

In 2005, a Chinese-style greenhouse was tested in Manitoba, Canada, at a latitude of 50°N. A greenhouse that is 30 x 7 meters with a well-insulated northern wall (3.6 RSI glass fibre) and an insulation blanket (1.2 RSI cotton) was observed from January to April. During the coldest month (February) the outside temperature varied between +4.5°C and -29°C (40 to -20°F). While the interior temperature was on average 18°C (32.4°F) higher than the exterior, it turned out to be impossible to cultivate plants without extra heating during the winter. [2]

Cucumbers in a Chinese solar greenhouse. Picture: Energy Farms.

Strawberries in a Chinese solar greenhouse. Picture: wikipedia commons.

Nevertheless, energy savings can be huge in comparison to a glass greenhouse. To keep the temperature above ten degrees at all times, the heating system of the Canadian structure must deliver a maximum of 17 W/m2, or 3.6kW for the building. [2] In comparison, a glass greenhouse of equal proportions at the same interior and exterior temperatures would require a maximum capacity of 125 to 155 kW.

Note that these results can't be applied to all locations at 50°N. The Canadian research shows that solar output has a greater impact on the inside temperature of the structure than does the outside temperature. The correlation between inside temperature and sunlight is almost four times greater than the correlation between inside temperature and outside temperature. [2] For example, while Brussels lies at the same latitude as Manitoba, the latter has on average 1.5 times more sun.

Thermal capacity can be further improved by placing black painted water storage tanks against the north wall inside the structure. These capture extra solar energy during the day and release it during the night. A different method to improve the heat retention of a greenhouse is by earth berming the north, east and west walls. Yet another solution to improve insulation is the underground or "pit greenhouse". [8] However, this greenhouse receives less sunlight and is prone to flooding.

More Space Needed

The passive greenhouse could save a lot of energy, but a price would have to be paid: the profits generated by the Chinese greenhouse are two to three times lower per square meter than those of its fully glazed counterpart. In the more efficient Chinese greenhouses, an average 30 kg of tomatoes and 30 kg of cucumbers can be grown per square meter (numbers from 2005), while the average production in a glass greenhouses is about 60 kg of tomatoes and 100 kg cucumbers (numbers from 2003). [3] [4].

A Chinese solar greenhouse. Picture: Energy Farms.

A passive greenhouse industry would thus take up two to three times as much space to produce the same amount of food. This could be viewed as a problem, but of course what really eats space in agriculture is meat production. A more diverse and attractive supply of vegetables and fruits could make it more viable to reduce meat consumption, so land use shouldn't be a problem.

Compost Heated Greenhouses

Another issue with a solar powered greenhouse is the lack of a CO2-source. In modern greenhouses, operators aim to have a CO2-level at least three times the level outdoors to increase crop yield. This CO2 is produced as a byproduct of the fossil fuel based heating systems inside the greenhouses. However, when no fossil fuels are used, another source of CO2 has to be found. This is not only an issue for solar greenhouses. It's also one of the main reasons why geothermal energy and electric heat pumps are not advancing in the modern glasshouse industry.

In Chinese solar greenhouses, this issue is sometimes solved by the combined raising of produce and animals. Pigs, chickens, and fish all produce CO2 that can be absorbed by the plants, while the plants produce oxygen (and green waste) for the animals. The animals and their manure also contribute to the heating of the structure. Research of such integrated greenhouse systems has shown that the combined production of vegetables, meat, milk, and eggs raises yields quite substantially. [5]

Detail of a compost-heated greenhouse: Source: Pelaf.

Justin Walker, an American now living in Siberia, is building an integrated system using horses, goats and sheep in a monastery in Siberia. Considering the harsh climate, the structure is partly built below-ground, while its protruding parts are earth-bermed. Above the barn area is a hayloft that provides further winter insulation as well as ventilation in the summer when it is empty. His compost heat recovery system produces hot water that is piped through radiant floor heating zones in the floor of the greenhouse. The CO2 is supplied by the animals. [6]

Heating and CO2-production can also be done without housing animals in the greenhouse. Their manure suffices. As we have seen in the previous article, the use of horse manure for heating small-scale greenhouses dates back several centuries in Europe, and in China it was practised already 2.000 years ago. Since the 1980s, several compost heated greenhouse have been built in the USA. These have shown that a greenhouse can be entirely heated by compost if it is well-insulated, and that the method drastically enriches the CO2-levels in the soil and in the greenhouse air. To add to this, the compost also serves to increase soil fertility. [6]

Kris De Decker 


[1] Energy performance optimization of typical chinese solar greenhouses by means of dynamic simulation (PDF), Alessandro Deiana et al., International conference of agricultural engineering, 2014, Zurich.

[2] Winter performance of a solar energy greenhouse in southern Manitoba (PDF), Canadian Biosystems Engineering. 2006.

[3] The solar greenhouse: state of the art in energy saving and sustainable energy supply. G. Bot et al., 2005

[4] Structure, function, application, and ecological benefit of a single-slope, energy-efficient solar greenhouse in China. HortTechnology, June 2010

[5] Integrated energy self-served animal and plant complementary ecosystem in China, in "Integrated energy systems in China -- the cold northwestern region experience", FAO, 1994

[6] The Compost-Powered Water Heater: How to heat your greenhouse, pool, or buildings with only compost, Gaelan Brown, 2014

[7] See for example "The Solar Greenhouse Book" (PDF), published by Rodale Press in 1978

[8] The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book, Mike Oehler, 2007

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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2016, 11:13:51 pm »
Plant Families     

Cooperate with Nature

 "Create natural cycles, then nature will work for you" says permaculture pioneer Sepp Holzer.

 This video explores his famous permaculture farm, Krameterhof, 1,500 feet above sea level between the pine tree monocultures of Austria. He has successfully used groundbreaking techniques such as using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for passive solar heating of structures. He pioneered the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development - that is not pruning, to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.

 One plant helps the other in a symbiotic, ongoing collaboration of nature. For example plants with different root depths can co-exist and benefit each other.

 "You have to listen and observe-- that's the most important thing." says Holzer.

 --Bibi Farber

 This is a clip from a film by Malcolm St. Julian Bonn and Heidi Snel.
- See more at: http://www.nextworldtv.com/videos/permaculture/permaculture-by-sepp-holzer.html#sthash.1qZsSU4r.dpuf

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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #37 on: February 19, 2016, 08:01:18 pm »
Nestled between Nepal and Bhutan is the small Indian state called Sikkim, where about 650,000 live.

02/19/2016 02:30 PM  SustainableBusiness.com News

Sikkim, India: 100% Organic Agriculture 

The dramatic Himalayan landscape includes India's highest mountain and alpine meadows with thousands of wildflower species. Called one of the world's last utopias by legendary Buddhist guru Padmasambhava, it is living up to that reputation as India's first completely Organic state.

All of Sikkim's farmland is certified organic as of 2015, achieving "a model of development which also protects nature," says Prime Minister Modi. 

After 12 years, the Sikkim Organic Mission is in place, with no use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers or GMOs, and committed to preserving its rare ecosystems and biodiversity.

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling began the process in 2003, with his declaration that Sikkim would be India's first organic state. Since he's been re-elected five times he's been able to see it through.

First, all sales of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers were banned, and farmers were taught how to transition to organic practices. Now, "Organic Tourism" has taken off with visitors staying at farming resorts. 

At this year's Sikkim Organic Festival, held January 18, Prime Minister Modi said this organic effort would now spread across the country.

Indian farmers have been devastated since GMOs were approved, with thousands committing suicide. 

Next door, Bhutan is also going 100% organic by 2020, as part of its "Gross National Happiness" standard instead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The tiny island of Niue in the South Pacific has made the same commitment to organic agriculture.

Organic Worldwide

As of 2014 (most recent data), the world's organic industry reached $80 billion in sales and 108 million acres farmed, steadily increasing from $15.2 billion and 27 million acres in 1999.

The US remains the largest organic market by far with a 43% share ($39 billion in sales), growing 11% in 2014. Next comes Germany ($8.8 billion), France ($5.4 billion) and China ($4.1 billion), according to Organic Monitor. 

There are roughly 2.3 million organic farmers in 172 countries, the majority in India (650,000), Uganda (190,550) and Mexico (169,700). 

Australia has the most organic acreage at 42.5 million acres hectares, but 97% of it is used for grazing. Argentina ranks second with 7.7 million acres, followed by the US with 5.4 million acres.

Learn more about Sikkim's organic mission:
Website: www.sikkimorganicmission.gov.in/

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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #38 on: March 14, 2016, 09:56:26 pm »
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #39 on: March 15, 2016, 07:03:04 pm »

Iceland home to N. Europe's largest banana plantation     

Around 1950, Garđyrkjuskóli ríkisins in Iceland planted their first banana plants as an experiment. Only 177 miles from the Arctic Circle, the plantation at the Icelandic National Gardening School, is the biggest banana plantation in Northern Europe; fed by an abundance of volcanic hot springs, the heat from them is what makes this quite impossible idea possible.

After the initial trials in the 50s, the experiment stopped, as it had been proven that bananas could grow in greenhouses in Iceland, although not in an economically advantageous way. The school nevertheless decided to continue to keep their plants, for the fun of it.  ;D

The school has several large greenhouses. Alongside the bananas they grow coffee, cocoa, avocado and other plants normally found in the Southern hemisphere. Bananas are the biggest group here with around 100 plants; the rest are grown in pairs.

Winter temperatures in the area regularly go below the freezing point and summer temperatures top out around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so even in a greenhouse, it can become a little chilly for plants that love heat and sun. But with the warmth from the volcanic springs, temperatures are kept at a steady 70 degrees year round .

Of course, being so close to the Arctic circle does mean a shorter growing season (normally bananas develop their clusters year-round.) Somehow, even though the sun is only out four hours a day in the winter months, these bananas have survived in their volcanically heated home. These cold-weather bananas are harvested from April to June. Beyond bananas, the area is home to more conventional greenhouse crops, like tomatoes.

Source: atlasobscura.com
Publication date: 3/9/2016

Agelbert NOTE:
In the tropics, I tried my hand at growing bananas once. They are easy to grow. You plant what is called a bud (hijo - son in Spanish). It grows in a few months and you get a nice bunch of bananas, usually too many to eat before they get over ripe. So, you harvest about half when they are green and eat them peeled and boiled in salty water (like a boiled potato - they are quite good).

You do this gradually.

When your bananas get to the ripe stage, you just eat them as desert with or without ice cream  ;D. At that point you harvest the rest of them on the plant stalk.

You then peel and freeze the ones you can't eat right away. The frozen ones will be mushy when thawed so they are good only for pudding, fruit milk shakes or banana bread.

If some that you did not freeze or eat got too ripe, you can make an oven type sweet desert or fried fritters from them (which are also sweet and crunchy).

Returning to the banana plant, you then chop the stalk off the plant and dig it up.

The root system is small and short so it is easy to dig up. That is why banana plantations lose most of their plants in a hurricane. Banana plant stalks cannot handle high winds.

Once you have the root base in hand, you slice off the buds -  there may me three or four.

Each bud will give you a new plant.

Those tiny seeds you see inside a banana will never give you a banana plant. Snark alert  ;): Lord Lucifer must have put them there to make fools out of homo saps.

They reproduce from buds, period (test on Monday  ).

That said, there are some plantain (a banana like fruit, two or three times longer and twice as thick as the average banana, cooked after peeling by boiling or frying in slices if green (tostones - yummy!  ;D) or baking/broiling as a sweet desert if ripe) species that do reproduce from seed as well as budding. The seeds are every bit as tiny as those banana seeds that refuse to germinate. Plantain seeds never went bananas.   

Unlike bananas, plantains can keep you as well fed as having a steady supply of potatoes. Unlike potatoes, you can stagger the plantings and continuously you get plantains all year (as long as you are in the tropics).

That system works for bananas too. Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about the cultivation of bananas and plantains. 

One more thing. There is plant called "plantain" that has nothing whatsoever to do with bananas or the plantains I spoke about just now. It's a medicinal plant of some kind and also an ornamental. Please do not confuse the two. Lord Lucifer wouldn't like it.  ;)
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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2016, 07:16:40 pm »
Less Space, Less Cost, Less Water and Fuel Use   

Home Town Farms is on a mission to get local food growing in unconventional ways in cities all over the US. It's a replicable template for urban, indoor vertical farming. They have a streamlined format for growing the produce -- and setting up a retail environment. Consumers can buy on location where the food is grown.

Move over, Whole Foods: THIS is the store we've been waiting for! The savings over conventional methods are impressive: These crops need 70% less land, 85% less water, 80% less fertilizer and 90% less fuel to get to market. 

The food itself is will cost about half  :o  what conventionally grown organic food costs.

These farms are not dependent on existing ground soil and can be set up on open parking lots, rooftops, open land or any unused space.

This exciting concept may establish itself as a standard in food production going forward...imagine, we can now grow organic, inexpensive, safe food...in a downtown parking lot! --Bibi Farber - See more at: http://www.nextworldtv.com/videos/growing-food/the-new-farm-is-right-downtown.html#sthash.dscq8RKV.dpuf
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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2016, 05:24:54 pm »
I know of a county in Wisconsin that is getting most of its natural gas from cow manure.

If you use cow or pig manure for methane production, then it is no longer useful as fertilizer. You've burned out the energy content.  You can't have your **** and eat it too.  :icon_mrgreen:


I took a tour of one of our three poo-poo treatment plants a couple of years ago.  Settled out product was conveyed to one of five methane digesters which are huge concrete tanks several stories tall.  Methane is produced for a few weeks and then the residue is trucked to eastern Washington for use as fertilizer.  It makes wheat grow very well.

On any given day the methane is sold to the gas company or it is burned to generate electricity and sold to the electric company to offset the plant electric bill.  The methane extracted is only enough to provide one fifth of the power the plant actually uses.

This plant receives its raw material from a mixed flow of storm drain and sewage waters.  The area served does not have a separate storm drain system though there are some street drains with fish painted next to them that claim to drain directly into Lake Washington.  The relevant fact is that product to produce methane arrives quite dilute.  This may explain some of the poor efficiency.

I am going to look into how much methane is produced by a single pig's poop on an annual basis but don't let that stop anyone from posting what they know about the process first.

I do know an elephant produces enough methane to keep a range burner on because they process their fodder very inefficiently.  They are not ruminants.  Elephant poop is apparently important to distribute nutrients in their local environment and because they don't get all the energy they could from their feed elephants are consequently always full of ****.  The Republican mascot is well chosen.

My point is that like the blood of patriots the waste product of methane digestion is useful as fertilizer.

But how many therms can a pig toot?

The problem here is the generally accepted notion of "carrying capacity" that is riddled with false assumptions on the nature of energy transfer mechanisms in autotrophs (photosynthetic sunlight eaters).

From the simplistic application of Hess's Law to the cherry picking of the fossil fuel funded Charles Halls of this world, we get an amazing array of studious peer reviewed bullshit about "carrying capacity", caloric intake requirements and required nutrients.

The fact is, K-Dog, that nitrogen fixation and other plant health and growth (NOT the same thing!) processes are complex. The thermodynamics of soil microbes is not well understood because off their enzyme mediated energy transfer systems.

The reductionist and moronic 20th century Big Ag assumptions that all you needed to grow a healthy crop are phosphates, potassium and nitrogen are based on FALSE assumptions about autotroph energy (AND HEALTH) requirements.

NOBODY has quantified ERoEI in soil microbes, of which there are several MILLION per cubic INCH (including thousands of DIFFERENT SPECIES). When they do, we can begin to understand carrying capacity. Until then, assumptions about energy from fertilizer are not based on the important, and sine qua non, thermodynamic mechanisms of the soil microbes.
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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #42 on: May 29, 2016, 05:23:16 pm »
Our recent discussion of methane digesters led me here.


The Shocking Carbon Footprint of Compost

Most people think of composting as a very "green" thing to do, but few realize that composting actually generates a significant amount of the potent greenhouse gases (GHG), methane and nitrous oxide.  Under current landfill regulations, requirements to exclude water minimizes the breakdown of organic matter and requirements to capture and burn methane mean that even that option has a better carbon footprint than composting (thanks to Fred Krieger for pointing out this advance in the landfill arena).  The even better option is anaerobic digestion which I will describe at the end of this post.

These Emissions Are Not A Scientific Surprise

To a microbiologist, it is not surprising that these gases would be generated during composting. Methane and nitrous oxide are formed by certain microbes when there is not enough oxygen available (anaerobic conditions). In the middle of a large-scale compost pile there are micro-sites without oxygen. This occurs even in a pile turned frequently for aeration. This is particularly true during the "hot" phase of the composting process which kills pathogens and weed seeds. During the period of very high oxygen demand, some parts of the pile will run short and the anaerobic organisms will make methane and nitrous oxide.

An Example

The graph above is based on one typical study of GHG emissions during composting (Hao et al 2001).  This was from active composting of cattle manure - a common procedure in which the pile is aerated by turning it frequently using a tractor (its fossil CO2 emissions are shown in green above.)

The first column represents how much carbon or nitrogen was emitted in various forms per metric ton (Mton) of manure. We can't even see the 0.19 kg nitrous oxide-N at this scale. Methane is 8.1 kg C and the fuel is 4.4 kg C.

The second column shows how much the emissions contribute to a net increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Carbon dioxide is "carbon neutral" because it was recently pulled out of the atmosphere by a plant - thus no net GHG contribution.  Methane and nitrous oxide are multiplied by 21 and 310 respectfully because of their higher radiative forcing potential).

The third column shows the GHG contribution per metric ton of finished compost (after 21% loss of mass - much as water).  The total "carbon footprint" of the compost is now 233.4 kg CO2-C/Mton.  For those more familiar with English units and expression as CO2 this would be 2167 lbs CO2/Ton.

How Much Compost Is Typically Used?

When compost is used in farming, it is normally applied in large quantities.  According to the University of California, Davis cost and return studies, a typical organic crop would receive between 2 and 10 tons of compost per acre.  Thus a mid-range use of 5 tons/acre would represent a carbon footprint of 10,833 pounds (CO2 equivalents).  This is without including the fuel footprint of hauling the compost to the field and spreading it.

How Big Is That Footprint?

To put this in perspective, the carbon footprint of this amount of compost used on one acre of a crop would be equal to the various other carbon footprints described below:
The carbon footprint of manufacturing 2,580 pounds of synthetic urea-nitrogen fertilizer (at 4.2 lbs/CO2 per lb)
The "embedded carbon footprint" of that urea for fertilizing 12.9 acres of corn at 200 lbs/acre
The complete carbon footprint of producing 5.7 acres of conventional corn (including fertilizer, crop protection chemicals, seed, fuel, nitrous oxide emissions from soil...)
The carbon footprint of burning the gas to drive a typical car 13,982 miles (at 25 mpg).
The carbon footprint of all it takes to produce 985 pounds of beef
The carbon footprint of growing, handling and transporting 9,641 pounds of bananas from Costa Rica to Germany
In other words, the footprint of the applied compost is shockingly large.  It is certainly not a practice one would want to see on a large scale.

Waste Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Why bring this up?  Because there is a superior use for manures and other organic waste streams.  When waste is processed in an anaerobic digester,  most of the carbon in the is intentionally converted to methane, and then the methane is burned as a form of renewable energy.  The emissions are carbon neutral and the energy generated offsets fossil carbon use.  As with compost, the remaining fiber that is left after digestion can still be used for soil improvement or other uses.

Anaerobic digesters require a substantial, initial capital investment and are non-trivial to operate, but they are clearly the best way to deal with most organic waste streams.  They also pay for themselves over time.  Modern municipal water treatment facilities tend to have these digesters as do some large-scale dairies and CAFOs (confined animal feed operations).

The largest onion processor in California (Gills Onions) installed a digester for its substantial stream of trimmings.  Gills eliminated a troublesome odor and disposal issue, they now offset much of their energy demand, and they are ahead financially after paying back the initial investment. This is a great example of how "doing the right thing" from a greenhouse gas perspective can also be a sound, bottom-line option.

You are welcome to comment here and/or to email me at savage.sd@gmail.com.  For notifications of future posts you can follow me on twitter ( @grapedoc )

References on GHG emissions during composting:

•Hao, X., Chang, C., Larney, J., Travis, G. 2001. Greenhouse gas emissions during cattle feedlot manure composting. Journal of Environmental Quality 30:376-386.    •Osada, T., Kuroda, K., Yonaga, M. 2000 Determination of nitrous oxide, methane, and ammonia emissions from swine waste composting process.  Journal of material cycles and waste management 1:51-56    •Hellebrand, H.1998. Emission of nitrous oxide and other trace gases during composting of grass and green waste. Agric. Engng Res. 69:365-375     •Sommer, S., Holler, H.2000. Emission of greenhouse gases during composting of deep litter from pig production – effect of straw content. The Journal of Agricultural Science 134_327-335    •Hao, X., Chang, C., Larney, F. 2004. Carbon, nitrogen balances and greenhouse gas emission during cattle feedlot manure composting.  Journal of Environmental Quality 33:37-44    •Jackel, U., Thummes, K, Kampfer, P. 2005. Thermophilic methane production and oxidation in compost. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 52:175-184. (looking for microbes which might help reduce the methane emissions from composting)     •Hellmann, B., Zelles, L., Palojarvi,A, Bai, Q. 1997.  Emission of climate-relevant trace gases and succession of microbial communities during open-windrow composting.  Applied and Environmental Microbiol 63:1011-1018

What I got from this is that composting, a process most of us think of as being pretty green, has a big carbon footprint. The author makes the case that methane digesters are carbon neutral and a far superior way to deal with the carbon waste stream.

Palloy said, as I understood him, that methane digesters produce a lot of CO2.

So, from a carbon emissions standpoint, what is the trade-off on these practices? I'd like to know.

I suppose one has compare composting and methane digesting to the carbon footprint of the dominant agricultural practices of the day, which we all know, have a huge carbon footprint. It gets a little complicated to get to the real facts.

Help, anyone? JD? Palloy? AGelbert?

I take absolutely everything Palloy says with a grain of salt. Palloy is, after all, that fine fellow that said Greece had a "valuable" resource with all that COAL they have, back when people were talking about Greece getting carved up by the oligarchic neoliberal greedballs. The last time I checked, coal is a terribly polluting substance that emits a lot of CO2, among other pollutants. So, to even bring it up as an "energy resource" evidences a deliberate lack of perspective on the real costs for we-the-people of pollutants from energy sources.

Eddie, where I am going with this is that we MUST engage in apples to apples comparisons here when we talk of Methane digesters. As you probably know already, methane harvesters don't just use animal feces as the input; they can use other waste material from crops and food waste that is generally used in composting. The fertilizer residue from a methane harvesting operation is perfectly usable as high quality fertilizer. So, there is a synergy going on between methane harvesting and composting. It does not have to be an either/or situation.

Back to Palloy's perspective free point ("methane digesters produce a lot of CO2::)) about methane and CO2".

Eddie, as you said, "The author makes the case that methane digesters are carbon neutral and a far superior way to deal with the carbon waste stream".

In order to understand where the author is coming from, you must look at the same land use situation involving crops and animals WITHOUT a methane harvesting operation.

THAT is the apples to apples comparison required that fossil fuelers cleverly avoid like the plague.  When you DO NOT harvest that truly NATURAL (as opposed to Fracked gas methane product) gas, it goes up into the atmosphere unburned as a GHG (greenhouse gas) and stays there for about a month or so before it degrades. During that month or so, it is over 80 times as powerful as a GHG as the CO2 and water vapor that would BE THERE in its place if it had been collected and then burned for energy at ground level.

The fossil fuelers will calmly bean count every f u c k i n g BTU of fossil fuel energy you use in farming and animal husbandry to, OF COURSE, LOWER the ERoEI of Renewable Energy products like ethanol. Never mind the MUCH GREATER energy inputs required to make the world's 5% of ethanol obtained at oil refineries... Oh, but to them, ethanol is ethanol. Just look at Hess's Law and we can all go back to sleep. LOL!

Back to CH4 (methane), IF you do NOTHING on your farm or with your herd's feces, you are ADDING to global warming. SO, when you set up a methane harvesting operation, you are SUBTRACTING from the GHG carbon footprint of your farm.

This is just CFS (common F'n Sense)!

As to getting to the "Carbon Neutral" or "Carbon Negative" point we all need to get to, the hairsplitters defending the fossil fuel industry will drive us all bananas with bean counting about the FOSSIL FUEL BASED energy to make every screw, panel, tank and pipe in the methane digester to try to talk their way around the FACT that CH4  from those harvesters requires NO FLARING and is therefore CLEAN and CHEAPER than CH4 from oil and gas operations.

Simply put, the fossil fuel industry CANNOT COMPETE on a dollar for dollar AND ERoEI basis with truly NATURAL gas. SO, they make up a lot of studiously sounding bullshit bean counting stuff to snow people into believing the reverse.

Eddie, apples to apples carbon footprint calculations aimed to justify a "carbon neutral" award to CH4+ fertilizer equipment (you can compost without capturing the CH4 but it makes more ERoEI sense to compost AND capture the CH4 while you compost) requires that you a priori state that you will have X amount of animals, Y amount of crops and Z amount of machinery.

Once you have that, you have to compute what amount of  CH4 and CO2 would be emitted by all the life forms down to the microbial level on your land if you, your animals and your machinery were not there.

THAT is your baseline for Carbon Neutral. It is possible that, if your spread is mostly grassland, that it would be Carbon Negative, as the autotrophs there would actually be sucking more GHG(s) out of the atmosphere than the microbes and other life forms there are putting into it.

THEN, with all your stuff in position, you do the math. You CAN give the fossil fueler bean counters the finger by NOT using gasoline for your machines. E85 or Renewable Energy based ethanol would be throw a wrench in their claims that you NEED a lot of fossil fuels to do your stuff.

Methane digester plastic parts CAN be made from carbohydrate based, rather than hydrocarbon based, feed stock. That would also help towards your goal.

I realize all this detail is boring.  

But I add it here because I am weary of seeing so many context and perspective free statements tossed around by supporters of the unsustainable dirty energy status quo every single time real world Renewable Energy, carbon neutral, cost competitive THREATS to the fossil fuel industry products, like methane digesters, are discussed. 

The bottom line for methane digesters/harvesters is that, all things being equal, they LOWER your carbon footprint massively because you will eventually BURN the CH4 that would have floated into the atmosphere.

And if every farm in this country did that, the Fracking industry would go BELLY UP.     
ANY argument from the fossil fuelers (whether they claim to support Renewable Energy or not) about methane digesters "not being cost effective for energy production or environmentally friendly"  trotted out as a excuse to avoid putting in these Renewable energy, pollution free CH4 capturing devices is total, unadulterated bullshit.

I'll dig up some info on truly NATURAL gas collecting devices (like the ones the Germans are using) to justify the points I have just made.  8)

« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 09:02:59 pm by AGelbert »
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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #43 on: May 29, 2016, 08:36:24 pm »
Methane Capture and Use

Because methane can be captured from landfills, it can be burned to produce electricity, heat buildings, or power garbage trucks. Capturing methane before it gets into the atmosphere also helps reduce the effects of climate change.

Methane can also be captured from farm digesters, which are big tanks that contain manure and other waste from barns that house livestock such as cows and pigs.

Putting waste to good use.
More than 500 landfill–to–energy projects are currently operating in the United States, and another 500 landfills are good candidates for turning their methane into an energy resource, which would produce enough electricity to power nearly 688,000 homes across the nation.

Top producer. In 2009, Germany produced enough electricity from biogas to power 3.5 million homes.

A world first! Sweden has been operating a biogas-powered train since 2005. It shuttles passengers between two cities that are 75 miles apart.


There is a HUGE difference between Renewable Energy based methane and the highly polluting fossil fuel industry produced methane. Renewable Energy BIOGAS based methane IS, when all the carbon cycle math is done, Carbon Neutral.

Methanogenesis: The Biological Production of Methane Gas

Half of all species on Earth are microbial, and many of these organisms inhabit anaerobic environments such as in soil, freshwater and ocean sediment, and the digestive tracts of eukaryotes. Studying anaerobic prokaryotes represents a technical challenge. However, the payoff is great: their genomes contain a high proportion of unknown genes that belie exotic biochemistry, and they produce unusual secondary metabolites that could be used for human benefit.

Currently, European countries (Switzerland, Germany) use renewable methane extensively, and are projected to steadily increase their use of biologically-produced methane in order to phase out consumption of fossil methane derived from geological sources.

The Buan Lab is interested in the physiology of strict anaerobes in order to understand how these organisms grow, what role they play in the environment and in the human microbiome, and in the unique or unusual metabolites and enzymes they produce.

We use methane-producing archaea (methanogens) as a model system to understand biological methane production. methanogens are strict anaerobic archaea that obtain all their energy for growth and reproduction by reducing fermentation endproducts like acetate, H2 CO2, formate, methanol, methylamines, and methylsulfides to methane gas.

Methanogens are the dominant archaea in anaerobic sediment where sulfide concentrations are low, and are also dominant archaea in the rumen of cattle, in the termite hidgut, and in the human digestive tract.

Methanogens produce 2 gigatons of methane gas annually, representing 4% of the global carbon cycle. Methane produced by methanogens can be harvested and used as a heat and energy source.

Large dairy farms and wastewater treatment plants commonly harvest methane produced in anaerobic digesters and offset nearly all of their heat and energy needs using renewable methane.


Yes, we know there are a lot of termites doing their thing out there and capturing their methane is not very cost effective.

HOWEVER, city dumps and animal feces based methane harvesters ARE COST COMPETITIVE with fossil methane.

One gigaton equals one billion tons.

The conversion calculator below gives you a figure in hundreds of cubic feet. You must multiply that by 100 to get cubic feet, then divide the product by one million.


One gigaton of methane equals 3,848,417,954 million cubic feet. That's HALF of what those microbes produce worldwide each year. We CAN harvest that efficiently.

In 2015, approximately 29,000,000 million cubic feet of fossil fuel methane was produced in the USA.

As those who can add and subtract can plainly see ;D, Natural Processes are quite capable of supplying Renewable Energy NATURAL methane without the "help" of our "dear loyal servants" in the fossil fuel Industry.

You can see why the fossil fuel industry is not in any hurry to have methane digesters adopted on a worldwide scale in every city dump and farm animal location.


Below is an example of fossil methane that CAN be captured WITHOUT flaring and other assorted pollution piggery the oil and gas corporations love to engage in.

The Germans are capturing methane from abandoned coal mines.

Production of Coal Bed Methane in Germany - Springer 
by O Langefeld - ‎2013 - ‎Related articlesProduction of Coal Bed Methane in Germany ... Abandoned Mine Methane (AMM) and Coal Mine Methane (CMM) projects are now prevalent in several sites in ... Energy Harvesting · Geoengineering, Foundations, Hydraulics · Hydrogeology ...


Finally, as you can read about below,
the Germans have figured out a way to strip methane collected from digesters from producing ANY CO2 whatsoever.

The fossil fuel industry is probably trying to jump on this with both claws, of course   . The problem for them is that Fracked gas wells LEAK methane into the atmosphere, along with FLARING about one third by volume of toxic and carcinogenic poisonous gases just to get their methane.

Also, every single hole drilled into the ocean bottom that has produced oil and gas LEAKS methane.     

Truly NATURAL gas from methane harvesting is the only practical use of this new German technology.

German researchers crack the code for carbon-free methane to hydrogen conversion

12/07/2015 under News, Renewable Energy

German researchers have “****” the code for breaking down methane from natural gas without creating carbon dioxide, and in the process dealt a blow to climate change. Gizmag reports scientists at the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have created a process that lets them extract the energy content from methane, in the form of hydrogen, without emitting any CO2.

The process, known as “methane cracking,” separates the hydrogen and carbon elements found in methane by subjecting them to temperatures of more than 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit and avoids previously problematic carbon emissions via a unique design.


Apart from capturing the methane at unused fossil fuel drill sites and abandoned coal beds to capture it before it leaks into the atmosphere,  we need fossil methane like a hole in the head.

Eddie, this is relevant to the methane harvesting operation. STEP ONE in all farming operations, even those that are more about animal husbandry, is environmentally friendly soil microbes. We HAVE TO HAVE THEM if we are to have a carbon neutral or carbon negative civilization. The fossil fuel and chemical industries have been busy killing soil microbes sine qua non for sustainable soil for over a century. This is stupid.

Soil testing, for over a century, has WRONGLY used a chemical analysis approach instead of a biological health approach. :o The reason they went that way is because chemical analysis is SIMPLER and favors MONOCULTURE and INDUSTRIAL FARMING destructive soil management. IOW, PROFIT OVER PLANET agricultural practices ARE RUINING THE SOIL. AND THE SCIENCE HAS BEEN TAILORED TO FAVOR THAT DESTRUCTIVE MODUS OPERANDI.   

Instead of using a host of acids the soil NEVER ACTUALLY SEES to test soil, WATER should be used and ORGANIC ACIDS should be measured. WHY? Because THAT is what the soil microbes ACTUALLY interact with to aid plants in growing.

IOW, the LIFE of the microbes is the LIFE of the soil and the KEY to soil productivity, sustainability AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the sine qua non for restoring degraded soil. USABLE carbon, phosphates and potassium (K) have also been measured incorrectly.

In 1935 they were on the right track. But the industrialized monoculture agriculture of profit over planet twisted soil testing methods which overruled the soil LIFE approach.  >:( As an example of how faulty the tests are, since 1965 HALF the biologically available nitrogen has been ABSENT from the soil tests.

They had to try to mimic natural systems in the lab. They didn't.  The abysmal stupidity of that approach is that INORGANIC minerals were being measured as "assets"  for the soil  when plants cannot do SQUAT with inorganic minerals when a depleted soil microbe population cannot turn them into ORGANIC minerals.    

Cover crops (land without a crop for sale but grown with some type of plant - not bare soil - in order to enhance microbial life proven to restore the soil) are a BIG DEAL in soil restoration. This has been proven by the proper soil testing science as detailed in the video.

Here is the PROPER way to measure soil health:

[embed=640,380]<iframe width="640" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/behAQzwdnzs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/embed]
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Re: Sustainable Farming
« Reply #44 on: June 18, 2016, 08:25:27 pm »
Agelbert NOTE: Finally! Somebody realized how cost effective and environmentally friendly feeding duckweed to fish is! Excellent!

Duckweed is the tiniest angiosperm known to science. It is the fastest growing macroscopic plant there is. It can double its mass in a couple of days and is a nearly perfect photosynthetic machine that, because it floats, spends very little energy on woody roots or stalks. This mean that the low lignin, high starch content makes it great, not just for food, but also as ethanol biofuel feed stock, far more cost effective than corn.
These Brooklynites are on a ROLL!
  They are going SMART, SUSTAINABLE bonkers with DUCKWEED  (plus some supplemental feed) fed tilapia aquaponics to grow tuned LED lighted and fish poop fertilized veggies in low to no water demand (it's almost 100% recycled!) for New Yorkers!

Aquaponic Farms in Brooklyn Killing It   

Lorraine Chow | June 17, 2016 1:16 pm

Aquaponics is an emerging urban farming trend that’s ideal for big cities since it’s relatively low-maintenance and can be set up just about anywhere, from rooftops to formerly abandoned lots and buildings.

And Brooklyn is now home to not one, but three aquaponic farms: Verticulture, Edenworks and OKO farms.

Aquaponics, simply, is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Fish waste becomes a nutritious fertilizer for the plants growing in a soil-free, recirculating water system. In turn, the plants help purify the water for the fish. This agricultural method has plenty of sustainable attributes. Because the water recirculates, it uses 90 percent less water compared to conventional farming methods and eliminates the need for pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.

“The only input into an aquaponics system is food which the fish consume, resulting in a completely organic system,” Oko Farms points out. “As the fish grow and the system ages, the number and variety of crops you can grow also increase so long as you maintain a neutral pH, maintain high oxygen levels, and honor temperature requirements for both fish and plants.”

Oko Farms is located on a formerly vacant lot in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood and, at 2,500 square feet, is the largest outdoor aquaponics farm in New York City. The farm raises edible fish (tilapia, catfish) and ornamental fish (koi and goldfish) and cultivate vegetables, herbs and flowers, co-founder and farm manager Yemi Amu told the GRACE Communications Foundation. The fish are raised at a ratio of 1 fish per 5 gallons of water and eat a combination of commercial pellets and duckweed cultivated on the farm.

For dwellers living in the trendy NYC borough, getting fresh local food is as easy as looking up. Edenworks is a such sky-high farm operating off the roof of a East Williamsburg metalworking shop, as TechCrunch reported.

The farm utilizes vertical farming methods—in which tomatoes, arugula, basil and more leafy greens grow in stacked tiers. (picture at article link)

The plants are nourished from the nutrient-rich waste food created by tilapia and freshwater prawns swimming nearby in 250-gallon water tanks.

What’s unique about Edenworks is its “LEGO, or Ikea-like” infrastructure that’s prefabricated and can be flat packed and shipped to site, according to TechCrunch.

Edenworks will be moving to Long Island City to launch a full-scale commercial growing system, and Green said he’s in talks with a number of international institutional clients who are looking to install their own modular greenhouses.


We can deploy in New York and we can deploy in Saudi Arabia,” Green said.   

At an old Pfizer manufacturing plant in Bedstuy, Verticulture is raising food such as kale, micro basil and Brooklyn-born tilapia and looking to tap into the Big Apple’s $600 million in unmet demand for local produce.

According to The Verge, the startup is producing about 30 to 40 pounds of basil a week thanks to the help of 150-180 tilapia.

The venture is currently in pilot mode and has been experimenting with blue, red, and white LED lights which consume less energy than fluorescent lights and help the plants grow faster, The Verge explained.

The goal of the project is to make aquaponics a sustainable and profitable way to provide local produce to cities all over the world, as co-founder Miles Crettien told The Verge.

“I believe strongly in the ecological design,” he said. “We can build this anywhere. We can build it in the desert. We can build it in Antarctica.”

Crettien told Edible Brooklyn that the harvest is being sold to retailers such as Foragers, Brooklyn Kitchen, Fresh Direct and Farmigo.


And those party hounds in Brooklyn are figuring out ways to party on their roofs UNDER solar panels! 

Brooklyn SolarWorks PV Canopy

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Ps. 97:11


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