agriculture

Swarms Of Soil Sensors May Help Farmers Water Smarter During The Drought

We’ve extensively covered California’s drought, in which farming is playing a key role. While there’s no easy answer about how to restrict agricultural water use, a new startup wants to help farmers all over the country conserve valuable H20 using smart sensors that dictate where — and when — to water their crops.


Farmers Are Pumping So Much Groundwater It's Making California Sink

What happens when your water supply runs dry? You go underground. In some parts of California, drought-plagued farmers are digging groundwater wells that plunge deeper and deeper into the earth, siphoning away the water of their neighbours, and causing the ground to collapse — potentially destroying the soil for good.


Government-Subsidised Cotton Farms Are Sucking The Colorado River Dry

Not too many drought stories have focused on cotton. As one of the thirstiest crops, it was long abandoned by many farmers in the regions hardest hit by unprecedented water scarcity. Except for one part of Arizona, where cotton blooms defiantly, even today. Because here, the more cotton fails, the more the US pays farmers to keep growing it.


Scientists Discover The Genes For Supersizing Fruit

Consider the beefsteak, a naturally bred giant among tomatoes. It grows as big as two pounds. Scientist have now identified a set of genes that gives beefsteaks their size, and it could lead the way to supersizing more fruits.


The Problem With The Doomsday Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is undeniably fascinating: This concrete slab that juts out of the barren snowscape may represent humanity’s last hope in an apocalypse. But recently, plant scientists have questioned its mission.


What The US Can Learn From Australia To Avoid A Mad Max Future

The drought is no longer a California problem. The Colorado River, which supplies water to one-eighth of the population of the United States, is now reporting record low water levels. The US needs a little perspective when it comes to how bad this is going to get. Luckily it has one: Australia.


This Is An Agricultural Tool

You already know that vibrators are great for erotic release. It turns out they can do something similar for plants. In an article at Wired, Gwen Pearson discusses how vibrators found a home on the farm by mimicking the intense thrum of bumblebees.


The Future Of Energy Is Hidden In The Guts Of Insects

This presentation from Berkeley Lab scientist Javier Ceja-Navarro hints at a strange new future for agriculture and energy production. I’m willing to bet it’s like nothing that you ever imagined.


California's Drought Is Making Its Dying Inland Sea Even More Toxic

Most of the narratives about California’s drought focus on the state’s Central Valley, where the nonexistent snowpack from the Sierras is threatening the economic vitality of the region. But the other, lesser told story is playing out in the southeast corner of the state, where the lack of water is actually poisoning local residents.


Farmers Without Water In The US Are Installing Solar Panels Instead

Due to the unprecedented drought, many of California’s farmers won’t be allocated any water this year, thanks to the way that the state’s water rights work. But what actually happens to the farms that don’t get water? Some of the farmers are ditching produce altogether for a more profitable alternative to crops — they’re installing solar farms.