Precision agriculture moves farmers into the high tech age

 A variable rate irrigation system installed to water crops saves hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.

The U.S. has seen record-setting drought in recent years. The drought has pushed everyone to look for new ways to save water. So, the The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has joined forces with America’s beer brewers to change how farmer irrigate their crops. For the non-profit, conserving America’s rivers meant growing America’s barley, one of the primary ingredients in one of our favorite cold beverages, with less water.

 

 

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2012 drought reaches proportions not seen since the ‘Dust Bowl’ era

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Over 50% of the U.S. is under drought conditions.

More than half of the United States is under drought conditions right now, putting 2012 in the same category with some of the worst droughts in the nation’s history. This makes 2012 the sixth worst drought on record with a 54.6 percent figure (not counting Alaska and Hawaii) in terms of area covered, behind only the brutal droughts of the mid-1950s and the “Dust Bowl” era of the 1930s. Other more recent droughts — such as 2000, 2002, and 1998 — saw a greater percentage of the country suffering from the “severe” or “extreme” drought categories. However, even by that standard, June 2012 still ranks among the top 10 worst droughts of all-time.

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Second Severe Amazon Drought This Decade Spells Disaster for Rainforests

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Drought is a problem in the Amazon Rainforests.

The Amazon suffered a record-making drought in 2005, which was thought to be the worst in the 108 years since tracking rains and droughts began. However, researchers are now saying that the drought the region struggled through in 2010 was likely even worse. The impact of two major droughts within a decade could mean that the rainforest so important to carbon capture could be hitting an irreversible downward spiral.

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For Bats, All Smooth, Horizontal Surfaces Are Water

trying to drink from a smooth metal plate.

For bats, any smooth, horizontal surface is water. That’s true even if vision, olfaction or touch tells them that the surface is actually a metal, plastic or wooden plate. Bats therefore rely more on their ears than on any other sensory system. This is due to how smooth surfaces reflect the echolocation calls of bats: they act just like mirrors. In nature there are no other extended, smooth surfaces, so these mirror properties prove to be a reliable feature for recognition of water surfaces.

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Wildfires in Russia and Canada Create Poisonous Cloud of Pollutants Around Planet

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The concentration and global transport of carbon monoxide pollution from fires burning in Russia, Siberia and Canada.

Raging forest fires in central Russia, Siberia and western Canada have created an enormous cloud of pollutants covering the northern hemisphere, according to NASA.

 

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Ban on Russian Grain Exports Causes Surge in U.S. Wheat and Corn Prices

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A severe drought destroyed one-fifth of the wheat crop in Russia and wildfires swept in to finish off some of the fields that remained.

A temporary ban on Russian grain exports will boost income for U.S. farmers this year, but more demand could cause shipping bottlenecks.Russia, one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, is facing a shrunken crop due to a severe drought. Its announcement Thursday that it will ban grain exports through the end of the year to control domestic prices raises the possibility of stronger-than-expected U.S. exports.

 

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Angkor Wat Doomed By Drought, Floods, Suggests Tree Ring Study

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The Unique Skyline of Angkor Wat

The ancient Cambodian capital of Angkor Wat suffered decades of drought interspersed with monsoon lashings that doomed the city six centuries ago, suggests a Monday tree-ring study.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal and led by Brendan Buckley of Columbia University, finds the, “Angkor droughts were of a duration and severity that would have impacted the sprawling city’s water supply and agricultural productivity, while high-magnitude monsoon years damaged its water control infrastructure.”

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China Facing Major Water Shortage as Their Economy Grows

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Chinese woman carries water from far away

A decade ago, China’s leaders gave the go-ahead to a colossal plan to bring more than 8 trillion gallons of water a year from the rivers of central China to the country’s arid north. The project would have erected towering dams, built hundreds of miles of pipelines and tunnels, and created vast reservoirs with a price tag three times that of the giant Three Gorges Dam.

 

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Nitrogen Loss Threatens Desert Plant Life, Study Shows

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The Mojave Desert. As the climate gets warmer, arid soils lose nitrogen as gas, reports a new Cornell study. That could lead to deserts with even less plant life than they sustain today, say the researchers.

As the climate gets warmer, arid soils lose nitrogen as gas, reports a new Cornell study. That could lead to deserts with even less plant life than they sustain today, say the researchers.

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Scientists Reveals Secrets Of Drought Resistance

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Soybean sprouts struggling in dry conditions. Biologists have now solved the structure of a critical molecule that helps plants survive during droughts.

A team of biologists in California led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and the University of California (UC), San Diego has solved the structure of a critical molecule that helps plants survive during droughts. Understanding the inner workings of this molecule may help scientists design new ways to protect crops against prolonged dry periods, potentially improving crop yields worldwide, aiding biofuels production on marginal lands and mitigating drought’s human and economic costs.

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