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Archive for the ‘food’ category

Aug 18, 2022

Fruit-picking drones can solve the farm labor shortage

Posted by in categories: drones, food, robotics/AI, sustainability

These autonomous robotic pickers can harvest precisely and gently without tiring or needing a break.

Aug 17, 2022

Wireless tech measures soil moisture at multiple depths in real time

Posted by in categories: energy, food, space

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a wireless system that uses radio transmitters and receivers to estimate soil moisture in agricultural fields at multiple depths in real time, improving on existing technologies that can be used to inform irrigation practices that both improve crop yield and reduce water consumption.

“Estimating is important because it can be used by growers to irrigate their fields more efficiently—only irrigating fields when and where the water is needed,” says Usman Mahmood Khan, first author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student at NC State. “This both conserves and supports things like smart agriculture technologies, such as automated irrigation systems. What’s more, conserving water resources can also help reduce , because less energy is used to pump water through the irrigation system.”

The new technology, called Contactless Moisture Estimation (CoMEt), does not require any in-ground sensors. Instead, CoMEt assesses soil moisture using something called “phase,” which is a characteristic of radio waves that is affected by both the wavelength of the radio waves and the distance between the radio wave’s transmitter and the wave’s receiver.

Aug 16, 2022

Humans tamed the microbes behind cheese, soy, and more

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, food

Somerville and John Gibbons, a genomicist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, independently focused on food fermentation, which helped early farmers and herders transform fresh produce and milk into products that can last months or years. Gibbons took a close look at the genome of Aspergillus oryzae, the fungus that jump-starts production of sake from rice and soy sauce and miso from soybeans.

When farmers cultivate A. oryzae, the fungus—a eukaryote, with its DNA enclosed in a nucleus—reproduces on its own. But when humans take a little finished sake and transfer it to a rice mash to begin fermentation anew, they also transfer cells of the fungal strains that evolved and survived best during the first round of fermentation.

Gibbons compared the genomes of scores of A. oryzae strains with those of their wild ancestor, A. flavus. Over time, he found, selection by humans had boosted A. oryzae’s ability to break down starches and to tolerate the alcohol produced by fermentation. “The restructuring of metabolism appears to be a hallmark of domestication in fungi,” he reported last week at Microbe 2022, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. For example, domesticated Aspergillus strains may have up to five times more copies of a gene for metabolizing starches as their ancestor—“a brilliant way for evolution to turn up this enzyme,” Wolfe says.

Aug 16, 2022

Critical Research Under Way Benefiting Humans on and off Earth

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, food

The seven Expedition 67 residents kicked off a busy week of critical research benefitting humans living on and off the Earth. The orbital residents also continued supporting the International Space Station’s vast array of flight, research, and life support systems.

Astronauts Bob Hines of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) took turns on Monday cleaning hardware and supporting samples for a biology study that is exploring skin healing in space. Observations may provide insights improving wound healing therapies for astronauts and Earthlings. Hines then spent the afternoon installing seed cartridges and root modules for the XROOTS space agriculture investigation to begin a 30-day growth period of radishes and mizuna greens. The research uses hydroponics and aeroponics techniques to learn how to produce crops on a larger scale on future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren opened up the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock and retrieved an external science platform and installed a small satellite deployer on the research gear. The deployer will be placed outside Kibo in the vacuum of space before deploying a set of CubeSats into low-Earth orbit for a variety of research and education programs.

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Aug 16, 2022

New study says rainwater is now unsafe to drink

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, food

A new study says that changing guidelines for forever chemicals have made rainwater all around the world unsafe to drink.


Rainwater is an important part of our planet’s ecosystem, and it helps fuel access to drinking water in many places. However, a new study suggests that rainwater is now unsafe to drink. The study says that “forever chemicals” have reached unsafe levels. These forever chemicals are scientifically known as per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and they don’t break down in the environment.

You can find PFAS chemicals in non-stick and stain-repellent properties. As such, they’re found in a lot of household food packages, electronics, and even cosmetics and cookware. However, it seems that these chemicals are now mixing with our rainwater. As a result, it has made rainwater unsafe to drink. And researchers say they can’t tie this issue to just one location. It’s everywhere in the world, even in Antarctica.

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Aug 16, 2022

Saving water with wireless technologies is possible — but there are challenges

Posted by in categories: food, internet, robotics/AI, sustainability, wearables

Water is the most essential resource for life, for both humans and the crops we consume. Around the world, agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater use.

I study computers and information technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and direct Purdue’s Environmental Networking Technology (ENT) Laboratory, where we tackle sustainability and environmental challenges with interdisciplinary research into the Agricultural Internet of Things, or Ag-IoT.

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Aug 16, 2022

This parasite makes you more attractive so you’ll have sex and spread it, strange study says

Posted by in categories: energy, food, sex

Toxoplasma gondii (T.gondii) is a common parasite, one that scientists say may infect more than half the world’s population. Now, scientists also believe that T.gondii may be manipulating its hosts to make them more attractive to others. If true, it means there may be a parasite out there that makes people more attractive to fuel its spread to new hosts through sexual activity.

Parasites have always been known to influence the way their hosts behave when trying to move to a new host. T.gondii itself has been known to manipulate its hosts. Researchers previously discovered that the parasite could make infected rats attracted to the smell of urine from predator cats. This led the rats to take part in riskier behavior. As a result, the likelihood of a cat eating the rat increased dramatically.

This allowed the parasite to move on to its optimal host. Once it has reached that optimal host, though, the parasite can then reproduce sexually. What’s most terrifying about how this parasite works is that the manipulation doesn’t stop there. Instead, similar manipulations have been seen in chimpanzees, hyenas, and humans, too. If the parasite can make people more attractive, it could spread more easily.

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Aug 15, 2022

What If We Could Make “Bacon” Out Of Fungi?

Posted by in categories: food, sustainability

A New York farm is making a bacon substitute from mycelium. Pigs are happy.


MyForest Foods is harvesting 1.3 million kilos of “bacon” made from mycelium. It is one of a number of growing uses for this fungus.

Aug 14, 2022

Bad Things Happen After Dark

Posted by in categories: biological, food, neuroscience

You might identify with the Mind After Midnight hypothesis if you’ve ever stayed up late angrily commenting on Twitter posts, finishing another bottle of wine, eating a whole pint of ice cream out of the container, or just feeling miserable.

The hypothesis suggests that when humans are awake during the biological circadian night—after midnight for most people—there are neurophysiological changes in the brain that alter the way we interact with the world, especially actions related to impulse control, reward processing, and information processing. The hypothesis was detailed in a recent paper published in the journal Frontiers in Network Psychology.

“There are millions of people who are awake in the middle of the night, and there’s fairly good evidence that their brain is not functioning as well as it does during the day.” —

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Aug 14, 2022

Fasting Without Calorie Restriction Extends Lifespan

Posted by in categories: food, life extension

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