Chinese PhDs and MBAs give up city life for farming, driven by desire to improve agriculture and livelihoods

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  • Millions of educated Chinese have left cities to become farmers, inspired to change agriculture or disenchanted with the pressures of urban life
  • They practise organic farming and water conservation, hoping to set an example for fellow farmers, and revive traditional technique

Continue reading… “Chinese PhDs and MBAs give up city life for farming, driven by desire to improve agriculture and livelihoods”

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With Personal Food Computers, nerd farmers are finding the best way to grow

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I’m Caleb Harper, principal investigator and director of the Open Agriculture initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Kent Larson courtesy of MIT Media Lab

In his book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, Barry Estabrook details how grocery store tomatoes are both less nutritious and delicious than those grown decades ago. Industrial farming now grows crops for yield, sacrificing taste and vitamins for an easy-to-harvest, shippable product. It’s why apples at your local supermarket are probably about a year old. Caleb Harper, a principal research scientist at MIT and director of the OpenAg Initiative, wants to use technology to grow food that’s healthier, tastier, and more sustainable.

“Growing for nutrition and growing for flavor, it’s not really something anyone does,” he told Digital Trends at the recent ReThink Food conference in Napa, California.

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Why sun-grown cannabis will make the marijuana industry greener and richer

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The future of cannabis cultivation isn’t in massive grow facilities with high-tech lights and complex temperature control systems. It’s out in the open air, according to proponents of the sun-grown movement.

The sun-grown movement is being led by companies like Flow Kana, who consider outdoor cultivation essential to the sustainability of the cannabis industry. Embracing the small, independent farm system infrastructure that exists in California, the company works with craft farmers to help scale their product and extend the range of distribution.

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Novameat’s 3D-printed ‘steak’ looks gross, but could it save the planet?

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Does your mouth water at the prospect of a nice juicy steak? How about a nice juicy 3D-printed steak, made using a paste composed of vegetable-based materials like rice, peas, and seaweed? That’s what a new Spanish startup, Novameat, is working hard to bring to market.

“I developed the first 3D-printed plant-based beefsteak while I was working as a postdoc researcher in tissue engineering, and assistant professor at the UPC university in Barcelona,” founder Giuseppe Scionti told Digital Trends. “I was lucky … because this city is a great hub for both 3D printing companies and world-renowned restaurants.”

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Millennials are disrupting Thanksgiving with their tiny turkeys

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Millennials kill again. The latest victim? Big Thanksgiving turkeys.

Tiny turkeys are gaining popularity.

Small birds are having a big moment. Tiny turkeys will increasingly grace Thanksgiving tables next week, thanks to the millennial generation’s ongoing campaign to remake American gastronomy. The holiday depicted by Norman Rockwell-Grandma showing off a cooked bird so plump it weighs down a banquet plate-is still common. But smaller families, growing guilt over wasteful leftovers and a preference for free-range fowl have all played roles in the emergence of petite poultry as a holiday dinner centerpiece.

“People are starting to understand it’s not natural to grow turkeys up to 30 pounds,” said Ariane Daguin, co-founder and owner of D’Artagnan, a wholesale and e-commerce food company in Union, New Jersey. “In general, that means they were penned up with no room to move around, and that’s why they’re fat like that.”

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Next generation of biotech food heading for grocery stores

WASHINGTON (AP) — The next generation of biotech food is headed for the grocery aisles, and first up may be salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil genetically tweaked to be good for your heart.

By early next year, the first foods from plants or animals that had their DNA “edited” are expected to begin selling. It’s a different technology than today’s controversial “genetically modified” foods, more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth, and make farm animals hardier and fruits and vegetables last longer.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Yet governments are wrestling with how to regulate this powerful new tool. And after years of confusion and rancor, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods or view them as GMOs in disguise?

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How small robots may kill the tractor and make farming efficient

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The Bristol-based Small Robot Company has created a series of agile robots for farming. By being customisable they could help to replace the tractor

Agriculture has a reputation of being stuck in the past. In reality, for farmers, their workplaces are a fertile testbed for innovative technology – they were among the first to embrace commercial drone use, and autonomous vehicles that could work effectively (and safely) in confined areas of farmland. Among the latest developments in agri-tech are small, farming robots that can improve crop yield and reduce farming’s impact on the environment.

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AI is already changing the agriculture landscape – starting with strawberries

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Meet Agrobot, an autonomous robotic harvester that’s poised to revolutionize the agriculture industry. Agrobot works with the world’s leading farmers to automate berry harvesting through the power of artificial intelligence.

Agrobot uses deep learning to determine when to pick fruit at its ripest. Up to 24 robotic arms grip and cut the fruit from its stem to meet the farmer’s quality standards. Agrobot uses a 3D sensing scanner with short-range integrated color and infrared depth sensors to capture the details and identify when fruit is ready for the picking.

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Inside Silicon Valley’s newest, most autonomous farm yet

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Iron Ox’s robots are currently planting, growing, and harvesting lettuce in a California warehouse.

Inside Silicon Valley’s newest, most autonomous farm yet

Inside a former commercial warehouse in San Carlos, California, a robotic arm is carefully transplanting tiny sorrel plants from one large tray to another. In another corner of the room, a larger robot sits ready to carry other trays–filled with romaine lettuce, bok choy, cilantro, and more than two dozen other types of greens–over to the robotic arm. At the moment, there are no people in the room: This is the headquarters of Iron Ox, which bills itself as the world’s first fully autonomous farm.

“We designed the entire process, from the beginning, around robotics,” says Iron Ox co-founder and CEO Brandon Alexander, who previously worked at X, Alphabet’s so-called moonshot factory, and the robotics lab Willow Garage. “It required us pretty much going back to the drawing board to see what we could do if robots were in the loop.”

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This start-up created the first farm in America run entirely by robo

Start-up Iron Ox created a fully autonomous farm in San Carlos, California. The hydroponic indoor farm relies on two robots to plant, care for and harvest produce.

One of the robots is 1,000 pounds and about the size of a car. It picks up the trays of plants and transports them around the greenhouse. A second machine, a robotic arm, is responsible for all the fine manipulation tasks, like seeding and transplanting.

The robots at Iron Ox use machine learning and AI to detect pests and diseases. They can remove infected plants before the problem spreads.

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World’s first floating dairy farm could be wave of the future

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Floating farm project leader Mink van Wingerden beside the floating dairy farm plaform being built at Merwehaven in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

“It’s a logical step to produce fresh food on the water.”

You’ve heard of offshore drilling platforms and offshore wind farms. Now a Dutch company is developing what’s being called the world’s first offshore dairy farm. Plans call for the high-tech, multilevel facility to open this fall in Rotterdam, a port city about 50 miles southwest of Amsterdam.

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This lab-grown beef will be in restaurants in 3 years

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Mosa Meat has raised a round of venture capital and plans of bringing $10 burgers (without any cows involved) to tables by 2018.

This lab-grown beef will be in restaurants in 3 years

When the Dutch stem-cell researcher Mark Post unveiled the first lab-grown burger in 2013–handmade fiber-by-fiber from cow cells in petri dishes–he announced that the single serving cost more than $300,000. But the research was promising enough that Post launched a startup called Mosa Meat to pursue making cultured meat at scale. The company now says that its first products will be on the market by 2021, fueled by a Series A fundraising round of $8.8 million, announced today.

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