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Do not eat that steak, play with it!

22/12/2013 Do not eat that steak, play with it! Elena Cadel - PhD candidate, Italy Reducing meat consumption improves health, life quality and the environment. Meat consumption is mis-perceived as a desirable, as an improvement in the quality of diet, but this is a mistake, in terms of health, longevity and sustainability. The World Cancer Research Fund links the high meat consumption diets with some of the most common diseases in the western Countries. In this interview Elena Cadel tells about her current research about phycological drives to meat consumption, and suggests the use of serious games to correctly re-focus on the long-term effects of unbalanced diets.

Wastewater management and reuse

26/10/2013 Wastewater management and reuse Ramy Saliba, PhD candidate - Lebanon Is the general public ready to know that they are using recycled wastewater? YAK! Granting access to water will probably one of the main reasons for regional and international conflicts in the next one hundred years. Starting from this point the researches about wastewater management and reuse show their crucial importance as normalizing factors on the international sets. The re-use of wastewater is economically and ecologically to be promoted and its public acceptance is mainly a matter of habits and perception of what re-used wastewater really is: water. Nothing is more cyclical than water, all the water on the planet is recycled water.

Organic in greenhouses

28/11/2013 Organic in greenhouses Francesco Ceglie - Italy The main objectives of the experimentation are: to compare yields and to evaluate the organic farming systems either from an agronomic and an environmental point of view. Organic farming has to tackle with the huge global challenges due to climate change, water shortages, food security and safety, environmental pollution, biodiversity loss and non-renewable resources depletion. Under these exceptional and stressing conditions it has been proven that high input agricultural systems both conventional and organic are not resilient. Continuous monoculture, nutrient losses, water and energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and use of soluble organic fertilizers should be minimized to obtain a sustainable production in organic greenhouse horticulture (OGH) . Crop rotations including cover crops are not common in organic greenhouse, due to the high cost of investment and specialization.The choice of crop grown in any season is largely influenced by market forces in OGH and farmers, to maximize profits, are pushed to repeatedly grow the same crop on the same land. So, OGH farmers are induced to intensify their production systems and follow market demand more than sustainability principles. At European Union level the debate is intense and a review of organic protected cropping standards and regulations is taking place. A long-term experiment was established at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (MAIB) to compare different systems of organic vegetable production in the course of a crop rotation under unheated tunnel. It is expected to develop practicable agroecological managements and cropping system designs that can be easily adopted by organic greenhouse growers to reduce the dependency on external inputs of production thereby lowering environmental pollution and enhancing system sustainability.

Monitoring enables management

18/10/2013 Monitoring enables management Habte Mihreteab - PhD candidate, Eritrea Investments, expertise and training are needed to promote the propagation of a better agriculture. Farmers will happily adopt solid and effective new habits. Land management can rely on a generation of small and cost effective sensors that can help optimizing cultivations and farmers' intervention on the fields. Passing from modeling crop behaviour to measuring it creates the conditions for efficient energy savvy farming, allowing to irrigate, for example, only when really needed and with the best possible timing and distribution. Crop management optimization is one of the key factors to increase food availability without impacting pristine lands. Young scientists worldwide are the major players in promoting and distributing these new techniques.

The Mediterranean food system sustainability

24/10/2013 The Mediterranean food system sustainability Hamid El Bilali - Morocco 30% of food production is currently wasted. Waste exists at every step of the food chain and food security can be greatly improved reducing waste without further increasing production. "We can change things!" Science and tradition must go together when agricultural development is to be considered. While scientists can help farmers optimizing their cultivations, amending their mistakes and their wrong habits, farmers, who have a deep knowledge of the most effective practices in each different environment and each different situation, can help scientists giving their experience and expertise. The research described in this interview is in "connecting the dots", trying to understand the picture drawn by food production and its related issues, on one side, by food consumption habits and diets on another side, by food management and logistics on a third side.

Giving soils a second chance

21/10/2013 Giving soils a second chance Nesrine Chaali, Tunisia - Ali Tamween Ajeel, Iraq The opportunity to complete the studies in another Country helps loosing your accent, modifies your point of view and widens your mind. Even if heavily contaminated with pollutants like hydrocarbures, soils can be recovered and given back to life. Different techniques exist to wash soils, recovering from them pollutants and restoring the natural balances of components. During their research, the two scientists, are studying the behaviour of pollutants inside the soil, with direct measures using in situ sensors. Their study can help validating standard models used to estimate soil recovery. A second application of their studies is in investigating the response of crops to soil salinity, passing from simple selection of resistant varieties to the study of plant response to salt and the strategies to reduce its concentration.

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