Agriculture, Anthropology

Manure was used by European farmers 8000 years ago

agriculture manure

A new study has shown that European farmers used far more sophisticated practices than was previously thought. The Oxford research found that Neolithic farmers used manure as a fertilizer as early as 6000 BC. It has been previously assumed that manure wasn’t used in agriculture until Roman times. This technique is fairly complex, because dung takes a while to break down, and the crops benefit from its nutrients over many years. This clearly indicates a long term commitment to agriculture – and involvement in the same fields. In order to reach this conclusions, they conducted an isotopic analysis, and found that enriched levels of nitrogen-15, a stable isotope abundant in…

Agriculture, Archaeology

Cheese has a 7500 year history


Polish researchers have found the earliest evidence of prehistoric cheese-making from a study of 7,500-year-old pottery fragments that are perforated much like today’s modern cheese strainers. When early men figured out how to make cheese, it was a big thing; at that time, livestock was too precious to use just for the meat, and mankind was largely lactose intolerant, making cheese the perfect culinary alternative. The introduction of dairying turned out to be a critical step in early agriculture, with products being rapidly adopted as a major component of the diet. Researchers from the University of Bristol in Britain, with colleagues in the United States and Poland analyzed fatty acids…

Agriculture, Science

Pigeon Pea Genome Cracked: Benefits Farming Millions in Asia & Africa

piegeon pea

Hyderabad (South India): A team of scientists has claimed to have achieved a major breakthrough by successfully sequencing the genome of Pigeon pea, considered an “orphan crop” and “poor peoples’ meat “ for its protein-rich content, mainly grown by small and marginal farmers across the world. Years of genome analysis by a global research partnership led by the Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has resulted in the identification of 48,680 pigeon pea genes. In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for small farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their…

Agriculture, Research

The flood-tolerant crops of the future

In this 2007 file photo, a farmer laments over his destroyed crop in Tamin Nadu. (c) M. Srinath

Floods are a major hazard to crops worldwide. This year alone, billions of dollars worth of crops came to waste after catastrophic floods raided Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Australia, Thailand, the UK and America, and famines have hit millions of people worldwide as a result of ruined agriculture. What if you could, however, engineer crops that could resist floods and steadily return to their usual cycle after waters retreat? Scientists at University of Nottingham and the University of California, Riverside have made a break through in this sense, as they may have stumbled across the key to engineering flood-resistant crops. “We have identified the mechanism through which reduced oxygen levels are sensed….

Agriculture, Research

Crippled bee population might be saved by super breeding


The world bee population is at its greatest trial in years, as thousands of bee populations die off each year. Scientists are trying to salvage what’s left or even possibly enforce the current bees left by breeding a new pest resistant, cold impervious superbees. Beekeepers around the world have reported on their lowest honey crops in decades, all because of the declining honeybee populations at the hands of insecticide-resistant mites and viruses. Now, instead of introducing a new kind of pesticide, scientists are trying to breed stronger bees capable of surviving and overcoming the threats they’re exposed to. According to the U.N., viruses and mites are responsible for the killing…

Agriculture, Health & Medicine

The chicken of the woods – the mushroom that tastes like chicken

A splendid fruiting of Sulphur Shelves! (c) Photo by Liz Cornish.

Like a sort of ubiquitous aliment, it seems like a lot of people seem to think that a lot of things tastes like chicken. I know I’ve had this sensation a lot of times with a few types of foods I’ve sampled for the first time, and there are some people who use the phrase “tastes like chicken” when exploring a totally obscure cuisines just for the sake of laughs or to reference pop culture. There is, however, a particular dish that actually tastes like chicken and of all things it’s a mushroom – the Laetiporus. If you take a long strong down the woods, you might actually run into…

Agriculture, Studies, World Problems

‘Green Gasoline’ from sugar


This month, two independent teams have announced that they have succesfully converted sugar-potentially derived waste from agriculture and non-food plants into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other chemical substances of high importance. Randy Cortright, a chemical engineer at Virent Energy Systems of Madison, Wisc. announced that carbohydrates and sugars can be processed into a number of substances used as petroleum, or in the pharmaceutical industry. “NSF (National Science Foundation) and other federal funding agencies are advocating the new paradigm of next generation hydrocarbon biofuels,” said John Regalbuto, director of the Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program at NSF and chair of an interagency working group on biomass conversion. “Even when solar and…

Agriculture, Studies, World Problems

Incredible waster; half of Earth’s food is wasted

It’s hard to believe that about half of the food produced on our planet is wasted, especially when about a quarter of Earth’s inhabitants are suffering from hunger; this, my friends is the wonderful world we live in. Not a world without resources, but a world in which we do not know how to use the resources which are given to us. Just a few days ago, the Stockholm International Water Institute, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Water Management released a paper in a join effort, called “Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain”. The work itself is…