534 results for “Manufactured Animals”

Three ways farms of the future can feed the planet and heal it too

Karen Rial-Lovera
December 30th 2019

Intensive agriculture may be nourishing most of the Earth’s inhabitants, but it’s doing the opposite to earth itself. Its dependence on singular crops, heavy ploughing machinery, fossil-fuel based fertilisers and pesticides is degrading our soils wildlife and nutrient cycles, and contributing a quarter of the planet’s unwanted extra heat.

But we’re not powerless to change the future of food. Nature and technological innovation are tackling these problems head on – and if the solutions they’re offering are incorporated on a …

Endangered animal species, in pixels

Ruben Baart
October 4th 2019

Today is World Animal Day, a day to put the spotlight on man's best friends in order to improve their welfare standards around the globe.

At Next Nature HQ, we honor this day by having dug up a brilliant 2008 campaign by WWF that featured photos of endangered animals, where the number of pixels in the photo matched the remaining population of the animal pictured.

It reminds us of the opportunity (for people of all ages - it's never too …

Human-animal hybrids are coming and could be used to grow organs for transplant

Mackenzie Graham
August 13th 2019

Around the world thousands of people are on organ donor waiting lists. While some of those people will receive the organ transplants they need in time, the sad reality is that many will die waiting. But controversial new research may provide a way to address this crisis.

Japan has recently overturned its ban on the creation of human-animal hybrids, or “chimeras”, and approved a request by researchers from the University of Tokyo to create a human-mouse hybrid.

Scientists will attempt …

Sophia the Robot has a sister: Little Sophia

Ruben Baart
February 7th 2019

Robot Sophia is pretty much the international face of the ‘modern robot’. Sophia is the Audrey Hepburn-inspired humanoid robot who stands out for multiple reasons. She is the first robot granted human citizenship (in Saudi Arabia) and has met up with more politicians and celebrities than one would meet in a lifetime. Sophia is advanced, yet not very portable and expensive.

Now the superstar robot has a little sister: Little Sophia, an educational companion for ages 7-13 getting kids excited …

Watch this lifelike robot fish swim through the ocean

Vanessa Bates Ramirez
January 7th 2019

Earth’s oceans are having a rough go of it these days. On top of being the repository for millions of tons of plastic waste, global warming is affecting the oceans and upsetting marine ecosystems in potentially irreversible ways.…

Managing the data deluge: Twitter as a tool for ecological research

Marianne Messina
December 27th 2018

As early as 2009-10, researchers were looking at Twitter data mining as a way to predict the incidence of flu. At the time, the H1N1 virus, or “swine flu,” had made the jump from swine to humans and arrived in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) took notice and began sponsoring research.

Eight years later, data scientists Alessandro Vespignani and his team have developed statistical models for crunching Twitter data in flu forecasting that can predict, six …

Getting rid of that bit of unspoiled green

Sanne vander Beek
June 14th 2018

There it is. A hefty hen, with its head up high and its beak out. And a gigantic VR headset over its beady little eyes. What does this battery hen see? ‘An experience of a free life’, according to American designer Austin Stewart. Second Livestock – shown last year at the ‘Robotic Wilderness’ exhibition of the Transnatural collective – is uncomfortable to watch, but it does uncover accurately the relationship we currently have with nature. Because no, this is not …

The return of Rayfish Footwear?

NextNature.net
February 23rd 2018

Rayfish Footwear was a fictional company that offered personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. This online science fiction story allowed customers to grow and design their own sneaker from a genetically modified fish, to question our (often all too consumptive) relationship with animals. Now, the company fiction is back: Catch Rayfish as part of FAKE at the Science Gallery in Dublin.…

Chinese farmers are using AI to help rear the world’s biggest pig population

James Vincent
February 21st 2018

It’s been called China’s “pork miracle.” For centuries, pig-rearing in the country was predominantly a backyard occupation. (The etymology of the Chinese character for “home” literally means “house with a pig in it.”) But since the 1980s, China has swiftly modernized its pork industry to meet the demands of a newly-rich middle class. Now, half of the world’s pigs — some 700 million animals — live and die in China, most in huge farms. And to help manage this porcine …

HUBOT: Meet the Air Traffic Security Worker

NextNature.net
November 26th 2017

As air traffic security you make sure that birds stay away from the airport using your eagle drone. With an accessory console, you fly the quadcopter from the sideline to scare birds and push them away from the engine of the planes. Thanks to your work, both the birds and the passengers will always be able to take off and land safely.…

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Intensive agriculture may be nourishing most of the Earth’s inhabitants, but it’s doing the opposite to earth itself. Its dependence on singular crops, heavy ploughing machinery, fossil-fuel based fertilisers and pesticides is degrading our soils wildlife and nutrient cycles, and contributing a quarter of the planet’s unwanted extra heat.

But we’re not powerless to change the future of food. Nature and technological innovation are tackling these problems head on – and if the solutions they’re offering are incorporated on a large scale and used together, a new agricultural revolution could be on its way. Here are three of the most exciting developments that can help farms not just feed the planet, but heal it too.

Crops, trees and livestock in harmony

Several UN reports have highlighted agroecology – farming that mimics the interactions and cycles of plants, animals and nutrients in the natural world – as a path to sustainable food.

The approach uses a wide variety of practices. For example, instead of artificial fertilisers, it improves soil quality by planting nutrient-fixing “cover crops” in between harvest crops, rotating crops across fields each season and composting organic waste. It supports wildlife, stores carbon, and conserves water through the planting of trees and wildflower banks.

It also integrates livestock with crops. This may seem counter-intuitive given their inefficient land use and high emissions. But having a small number of animals grazing land doesn’t have to accelerate global heating.

Grassland captures carbon dioxide. Animals eat the grass, and then return that carbon to the soil as excrement. The nutrients in the excrement and the continuous grazing of grass both help new grass roots to grow, increasing the capacity of the land to capture carbon.

Carefully managed grazing can help the environment, not harm it. Via Millie Olsen/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

Keep too many grazing animals in one place for too long and they eat too much grass and produce too much excrement for the soil to take on, meaning carbon is lost to the atmosphere. But if small numbers are constantly rotated into different fields, the soil can store enough extra carbon to counterbalance the extra methane emitted by livestock’s digestive rumblings.

While this doesn’t make them a carbon sink, livestock bring other benefits to the land. They keep soil naturally fertilised, and can also improve biodiversity by eating more aggressive plants, allowing others to grow. And if local breeds are adopted, they generally don’t require expensive feed and veterinary care, as they’re adapted to local conditions.

Pesticides no more

Pests, diseases and weeds cause almost 40% of crop losses globally – and without care, the figure could rise dramatically. Climate change is shifting where pests and diseases thrive, making it harder for farmers to stay resilient.

Many commonly used herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are now also under pressure to be banned because of their negative effects on the health of humans and wildlife. Even if they’re not, growing resistance to their action is making controlling weeds, pests and diseases increasingly challenging.

Nature is again providing answers here. Farmers are starting to use pesticides derived from plants, which tend to be much less toxic to the surrounding environment.

They’re also using natural enemies to keep threats at bay. Some may act as repellents, “pushing” pests away. For example, peppermint disgusts the flea beetle, a scourge to oilseed rape farmers. Others are “pulls”, attracting pests away from valuable crops. Plants that are attractive for egg-laying but that don’t support the survival of insect larvae are commonly used for this purpose.

Nasturtiums are pest magnets – and they’re edible too. Via Shutova Elena/Shutterstock

Technology is also offering solutions on this front. Some farmers are already using apps to monitor, warn and predict when pest and diseases will attack crops. Driverless tractors and intelligent sprayers that can target specific weeds or nutritional needs have recently entered the market. Agritech companies are now also developing robots that can scan fields, identify specific plants, and decide whether to use pesticide or to remove a plant mechanically.

In combination, these methods can dramatically reduce agriculture’s reliance on herbicides and pesticides without lowering crop yields. This is important, since the world’s population is set to rise by a quarter in the next three decades.

Small tech, big difference

Soon, technology at an almost impossibly small scale could make a big difference to the way we grow our food. Companies have designed nanoparticles 100,000 times smaller then the width of a human hair that release fertiliser and pesticides slowly but steadily, to minimise their use and maximise crop yields.

New gene-editing techniques will also increasingly use nanomaterials to transfer DNA to plants. These techniques can be used to detect the presence of pests and nutrient deficiencies, or simply improve their resistance to extreme weather and pests. Given that increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events due to global heating are putting the very functioning of the global food system at risk, these advancements could be vital for preventing agricultural collapse.

Nanotechnologies aren’t cheap yet and researchers have yet to conduct rigorous tests of how toxic nanomaterials are to humans and plants, and how durable they are. But should they pass these tests, agriculture will surely follow the path of other industries in adopting the technology on a large scale.

Save for nanotechnology and advanced robots, the above solutions are already in use in many small-scale and commercial farms – just not in combination. Imagine them working in synchrony and suddenly a vision of sustainable agriculture doesn’t seem so far away anymore.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Today is World Animal Day, a day to put the spotlight on man's best friends in order to improve their welfare standards around the globe.

At Next Nature HQ, we honor this day by having dug up a brilliant 2008 campaign by WWF that featured photos of endangered animals, where the number of pixels in the photo matched the remaining population of the animal pictured.

It reminds us of the opportunity (for people of all ages - it's never too late) to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions we can take to help protect them. Peculiar image.

African Wild Dog. Estimated between 3000 and 5500 remain
Amur Leopard. Estimated about 60 remain
Amur Tiger. Estimated about 450 remain
Asian Elephant. Estimated between 40000 and 50000 remain
Bengal Tiger. Estimated about 2500 remain
Black Footed Ferret. Estimated about 300 remain
Black Rhino. Estimated about 5000 remain
Blue Whale. Estimated between 10000 and 25000 remain
Bonobo. Estimated between 10000 and 50000 remain
Bornean Orangutan. Estimated between 45000 and 69000 remain
Borneo Pygmy Elephant. Estimated about 1500 remain
Chimpanzee. Estimated between 172700 and 299700 remain
Eastern Lowland Gorilla. Estimated about 17000 remain
Fin Whale. Estimated between 50000 and 90000 remain
Galapagos Penguin. Estimated about 2000 remain
Giant Panda. Estimated about 1864 remain
Green Sea Turtle. Estimated between 3000 and 5500 remain
Hectors Dolphin. Estimated about 7000 remain
Indian Elephant, Estimated between 20000 and 25000 remain
Indochinese Tiger. Estimated between 600 and 650 remain
Indus River Dolphin. Estimated about 1100 remain
Javan Rhino. Estimated about 60 remain
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Around the world thousands of people are on organ donor waiting lists. While some of those people will receive the organ transplants they need in time, the sad reality is that many will die waiting. But controversial new research may provide a way to address this crisis.

Japan has recently overturned its ban on the creation of human-animal hybrids, or “chimeras”, and approved a request by researchers from the University of Tokyo to create a human-mouse hybrid.

Scientists will attempt to grow a human pancreas inside a mouse, using a certain kind of stem cell known as “induced pluripotent stem cells”. These are cells that can grow into almost any kind of cell. The stem cells will be injected into a mouse embryo, which has been genetically modified to be incapable of producing a pancreas using its own cells. This hybrid embryo is then implanted in a mouse surrogate and allowed to grow. The goal is to eventually grow a human pancreas in a larger animal – such as a pig – which can be transplanted into a human.

Human-animal hybrids have been created in both the US and UK, but regulations require the embryo to be destroyed usually by 14 days. The new Japanese regulations allow for the embryo to be implanted in a surrogate uterus, and eventually, to be born as a mouse with a “human” pancreas. The mice will then be monitored for up to two years, to see where the human cells travel and how the mice develop.

Ethical issues

The idea of human-animal hybrids can raise a lot of questions and it’s easy to feel they are “unnatural” because they violate the boundaries between species. But the boundary between species is often fluid, and we don’t seem to have the same reaction to animal hybrids like mules, or the many kinds of plant hybrids humans have produced.

Philosophers believe that negative reactions to human-animal hybrids might be based on our need to have a clear boundary between things that are “human” and things that are not. This distinction grounds many of our social practices involving animals, and so threatening this boundary could create moral confusion.

Some might feel that human-animal hybrids are a threat to human dignity. But it’s difficult to specify what this claim really amounts to. A stronger objection is the idea that a human-animal hybrid may acquire human characteristics, and as a result, be entitled to human level moral consideration.

If, for example, the injected human stem cells travel to the mouse’s brain, it could develop enhanced cognitive capacities compared to a normal mouse. And on that basis, it may be entitled to a much higher moral status than a mouse would normally be granted – and possibly make it unethical for use in scientific experimentation.

Moral status

Moral status tells us whose interests count, from a moral point of view. Most people would say human beings have full moral status, as do babies, fetuses and the severely disabled, which means we must consider their interests. More controversially, some people also believe that non-human animals – such as chimpanzees or human embryos – possess a degree of moral status approaching that of human beings.

But pinning down what characteristics confer moral status can be tricky. Various criteria have been suggested, including the ability to reason, have self-awareness, the ability to form relationships with others, the capacity for suffering, or simply being a part of the human species. But each of these criteria ends up including some groups who don’t have moral status, or excluding some who do.

A human-animal chimera contains a mixture of human cells and animals cells.

The idea that non-human animals might have sufficient moral status for it to be morally wrong to kill them for food, or use for medical research, has gained significant traction in the philosophical community. Similarly, veganism has grown massively worldwide. There’s been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegan in the US in just the last three years. While in the UK the number of vegans has risen from 150,000 in 2014 to 600,000 in 2018, which suggests people are increasingly willing to take the interests of animals seriously.

From a philosophical perspective using non-human animals for food or medical research is unethical because it significantly harms the animal, while providing only a small or insignificant benefit to us. But even those who believe that non-human animals have moral status would likely support sacrificing the life of a non-human animal to save the life of a human – as would be the case in human-animal organ donation. This is because a human can value its life in complex ways that a non-human animal cannot.

But if human-animal hybrids become more like us than non-human animals, it could then be argued that it’s unethical to produce a hybrid simply for the purposes of extracting its organs. That is, harvesting the organs of a non-consenting human-animal hybrid could be morally equivalent to harvesting the organs of a non-consenting human.

Of course, for this argument to work, there would need to be strong reasons for thinking not only that a human-animal hybrid has moral status, but that its life has equal moral value to that of a human. And even if a mouse-human hybrid did have a “human-like” brain, it is exceedingly unlikely that it would be human enough to merit equal moral consideration.

So given that this process has the potential to successfully resolve the perpetual lack of organs for transplant, it’s reasonable to think that the use of human-animal hybrids is the right thing to do to help save human lives – even if it does require some level of animal suffering.

This article is written by Mackenzie Graham, Research Fellow of Philosophy, University of Oxford. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cover image: The red shows rat cells in the developing heart of a mouse embryo (via Salk Institute).

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Robot Sophia is pretty much the international face of the ‘modern robot’. Sophia is the Audrey Hepburn-inspired humanoid robot who stands out for multiple reasons. She is the first robot granted human citizenship (in Saudi Arabia) and has met up with more politicians and celebrities than one would meet in a lifetime. Sophia is advanced, yet not very portable and expensive.

Now the superstar robot has a little sister: Little Sophia, an educational companion for ages 7-13 getting kids excited for AI and coding learning. And in contrast to ‘big’ Sophia, her sister is a lot easier in use and more affordable (from $99).

The family resemblances are... uncanny (to throw a fitting metaphor on the table).

Little Sophia is something between a toy doll and a real robot, and is being developed by Hanson Robotics (the same company that also develops OG Sophia). Like Sophia the robot, her younger sibling can walk, talk, sing, play games and, tell jokes. She’s about 35 cm tall and looks as if Robocop had a baby with a Bratz doll.

Programmable via mobile app, she’s able to mirror the movement of its owner, making it both a fun toy and also an educational tool. Promising unparalleled levels of feedback for users, the idea is to create a robot friend and tutor, which will build up a lasting relationship with kids.

For now, we're applauding the developers for inspiring a broader, more inclusive generation of young kids to learn how to code.

“Our vision at Hanson Robotics is to bring robots to life,” said David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics, in a statement. "Robots will soon be everywhere. How can we nurture them to be our friends and useful collaborators?"

A vision we can only agree to (remember HUBOT).

The irresistible Little Sophia is currently up for adoption via a Kickstarter campaign.

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Earth’s oceans are having a rough go of it these days. On top of being the repository for millions of tons of plastic waste, global warming is affecting the oceans and upsetting marine ecosystems in potentially irreversible ways.

Coral bleaching, for example, occurs when warming water temperatures or other stress factors cause coral to cast off the algae that live on them. The coral goes from lush and colorful to white and bare, and sometimes dies off altogether. This has a ripple effect on the surrounding ecosystem.

Warmer water temperatures have also prompted many species of fish to move closer to the north or south poles, disrupting fisheries and altering undersea environments.

To keep these issues in check or, better yet, try to address and improve them, it’s crucial for scientists to monitor what’s going on in the water. A paper released last week by a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) unveiled a new tool for studying marine life: a biomimetic soft robotic fish, dubbed SoFi, that can swim with, observe, and interact with real fish.

[embed]https://youtu.be/Dy5ZETdaC9k[/embed]

SoFi isn’t the first robotic fish to hit the water, but it is the most advanced robot of its kind. Here’s what sets it apart.

It swims in three dimensions

Up until now, most robotic fish could only swim forward at a given water depth, advancing at a steady speed. SoFi blows older models out of the water. It’s equipped with side fins called dive planes, which move to adjust its angle and allow it to turn, dive downward, or head closer to the surface. Its density and thus its buoyancy can also be adjusted by compressing or decompressing air in an inner compartment.

“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,” said CSAIL PhD candidate Robert Katzschmann, lead author of the study. “We are excited about the possibility of being able to use a system like this to get closer to marine life than humans can get on their own.”

The team took SoFi to the Rainbow Reef in Fiji to test out its swimming skills, and the robo fish didn’t disappoint—it was able to swim at depths of over 50 feet for 40 continuous minutes. What keeps it swimming? A lithium polymer battery just like the one that powers our smartphones.

It’s remote-controlled… by Super Nintendo

SoFi has sensors to help it see what’s around it, but it doesn’t have a mind of its own yet. Rather, it’s controlled by a nearby scuba-diving human, who can send it commands related to speed, diving, and turning. The best part? The commands come from an actual repurposed (and waterproofed) Super Nintendo controller. What’s not to love?

obotic-swimming-fish-SoFi-close-up-remote-control
Image Credit: MIT CSAIL

Previous robotic fish built by this team had to be tethered to a boat, so the fact that SoFi can swim independently is a pretty big deal. Communication between the fish and the diver was most successful when the two were less than 10 meters apart.

It looks real, sort of

SoFi’s side fins are a bit stiff, and its camera may not pass for natural—but otherwise, it looks a lot like a real fish. This is mostly thanks to the way its tail moves; a motor pumps water between two chambers in the tail, and as one chamber fills, the tail bends towards that side, then towards the other side as water is pumped into the other chamber. The result is a motion that closely mimics the way fish swim. Not only that, the hydraulic system can change the water flow to get different tail movements that let SoFi swim at varying speeds; its average speed is around half a body length (21.7 centimeters) per second.

Besides looking neat, it’s important SoFi look lifelike so it can blend in with marine life and not scare real fish away, so it can get close to them and observe them.

“A robot like this can help explore the reef more closely than current robots, both because it can get closer more safely for the reef and because it can be better accepted by the marine species.” said Cecilia Laschi, a biorobotics professor at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.

Just keep swimming

It sounds like this fish is nothing short of a regular Nemo. But its creators aren’t quite finished yet.

They’d like SoFi to be able to swim faster, so they’ll work on improving the robo fish’s pump system and streamlining its body and tail design. They also plan to tweak SoFi’s camera to help it follow real fish.

“We view SoFi as a first step toward developing almost an underwater observatory of sorts,” said CSAIL director Daniela Rus. “It has the potential to be a new type of tool for ocean exploration and to open up new avenues for uncovering the mysteries of marine life.”

The CSAIL team plans to make a whole school of SoFis to help biologists learn more about how marine life is reacting to environmental changes.

Image Credit: MIT CSAIL

This article originally appeared on Singularity Hub, a publication of Singularity University.

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As early as 2009-10, researchers were looking at Twitter data mining as a way to predict the incidence of flu. At the time, the H1N1 virus, or “swine flu,” had made the jump from swine to humans and arrived in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) took notice and began sponsoring research.

Eight years later, data scientists Alessandro Vespignani and his team have developed statistical models for crunching Twitter data in flu forecasting that can predict, six weeks out, when and where a flu outbreak might peak, with 70 to 90 percent accuracy. The Vespignani model integrates flu tweets with CDC data and other inputs of the initial flu conditions, where Twitter acts as “a proxy for monitoring infectious disease incidence.” Vespignani also noted that his model could work with many digital (e.g. social media) sources, which often come with time or location stamps.

Because tweets are unstructured and copious, the chance to make use of Twitter data has inspired advanced work from many sciences – statistical and computational science, behavioral and linguistic science. How do people process language or influence each other? How can we apply machine learning to sort for target data amid random human associations?

Even as the field of ecology becomes buried in data from camera traps, tracking studies, and citizen science records, it has been relatively late in launching its Twitter expedition. But in the September 2018 Methods in Ecology and Evolution, a University of Gloucestershire study by Adam Hart and colleagues looked at the reliability of Twitter data for ecological studies. Hart devised a methodology to collect, scrape, and structure the data sets of tweets about three ecological phenomena.

In some sense, they were gambling that these three cyclic ecological phenomena – the annual emergence of flying ants, the sighting of spiders in the home, the synchronized-drone-like murmurations of starlings overhead – might impress Tweeters enough to make a significant appearance on Twitter. And on searching the Twitter API for keywords or hashtags, such as #flyingants, #spider, and #murmurations, the researchers’ gamble paid off.

“Make sure you choose something that people are likely to tweet about,” Hart said. “We still have much to learn about what motivates people to tweet about ecological phenomena and the sorts of information they are motivated to include.”

Hart and his colleagues then compared the Twitter results to published data from three citizen science (CS) studies of the same phenomena over the same time periods. The most robust Twitter samples came from tweets about spider sightings. Twitter-mining yielded fewer data points than the planned (CS) experiments ­– almost by a factor of ten in some cases – with starling murmurations yielding the fewest. But Hart’s team picked up the slack with data science.

“The statistical approaches we used allow for sample size in calculating significance,” Hart said. “So [a relatively low number of data points] is important, but it is allowed for in the analyses.”

Using a statistical comparison method, the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, to study Twitter’s reliability against the CS data sets, Hart’s team was able to show a striking correlation.

After a discussion of Twitter’s reliability with respect to determining when and where sightings actually occur, the scientists conclude that Twitter mining can be a useful tool for ecologists, particularly in phenology, the study of “nature’s calendar.”

Retrospective data mining of social media and other digital sources has generated a lot of excitement in ecology because it can shave considerable time off certain types of big data-focused research projects.

Gabriella Leighton and colleagues developed a methodology for mining Google Images in tracking where, geographically, members of the same species started to exhibit different color variations. Like Hart et al (2018), Leighton and her co-authors compared Twitter results to known findings (Rounds, 1987) and found substantial correlation. The published paper couldn’t help mentioning time saved:

“Notably, the Google Images method took a few weeks,” Leighton et al reported, “while the more traditional data collection methods undertaken by Rounds (1987) took 3 years.”

A “quick and dirty” research option

From the point of view of Wesley Hochachka, a research associate with Cornell University’s eBird citizen science project, Twitter offers a “quick and dirty” research option.

“You’re not actually getting a sample of reality,” Hochachka told Mongabay, “you’re getting reality filtered through the curiosity of an individual person and their motivation to tell somebody else about it.”

Such individuality brings “noise,” or uncertainty, into the data sets. On a continuum of reliability between “quick and dirty” Twitter mining and long, hard traditional science, Hochachka would put citizen science somewhere in the middle. The eBird app collects data from bird watchers with a wide range of skill levels, at a rate of 7 or 8 million ornithology records a month. So data scientists have a lot to work with as they refine analytical methods to reduce uncertainty.

At the same time, the online eBird form that volunteers use to enter their bird sightings is the product of scientific design and testing. As compared with retrospective Twitter mining, the data form allows for some control – the crux of traditional science ­– over the data sets coming in.

According to Hochachka, the presence-only bias poses the biggest challenge to Twitter mining.

“You know when an event happened – you know when there’s been a murmuration,” Hochachka said, “but you don’t know when somebody didn’t see that starling murmuration. That’s why these data are never going to be as good as a predesigned study.”

In developing their data entry form, the eBird team sought to “minimize the proportion of data submitted in a presence-only form.” Hochachka points to a required field on the form that asks: “’Are you recording every species that you were able to see and identify?’ And if they say ‘yes’ – which, about 85 percent of the time, people say – then we know that if a certain species isn’t on that list, it was not detected by the observer.”

Without this field, the colorful eBird maps describing bird migration patterns would be much less reliable, Hochachka says. The statistical modeling that underlies the maps is predicated on a binary, yes-no analysis, where the absence of yes does not mean no.

“You actually need those nos,” Hochachka said. “If you don’t feed [the nos] into these sorts of analyses, the program itself creates them” (introducing uncertainty).

The bird-watching form tries to minimize other human inconsistencies – amount of time spent bird-watching, distance traveled while watching, the time of year, even the time of day.

“There’s something called a dawn chorus,” Hochachka said. “If you were to go into the same forest at dawn and at noon, it could be deafeningly loud at dawn and utterly silent at noon. But the birds haven’t gone anywhere; they’re just not as detectable.”

A source of big data

As the challenges of big, noisy data attract researchers with specialties in advanced math and computational science, some field scientists worry that hands-on discovery is getting lost in the noise.

Interestingly, Twitter is becoming an apt platform for informal “field work” in ecology. Valuable discoveries arrive on a hashtag or handle, particularly when the tweet contains images. In Hart et al’s Twitter-mined spider study, tweeted images allowed for determining the spiders’ sex and verifying a count of males to females.

Professor Helen Roy from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology uses Twitter  (@UKLadybirds) hand in glove with her online survey of UK ladybirds (“ladybugs” in the US).

“We have been able to improve understanding of insect invasions through our studies on the harlequin ladybird – a global invasive alien species,” Roy told Mongabay. Twitter allows Roy to conduct both data intake and educational outreach.

“Just a few days ago, someone sent a picture [via Twitter] of the harlequin ladybird eating some moth eggs,” Roy said. “This is an important example of the way in which the harlequin ladybird may be adversely affecting other species.” Like retrospective Twitter mining, this research provides a useful starting point, though it lacks the representative nature of a statistical sample.

In the end, the findings by Hart et al (2018) offer researchers a different kind of research tool. With its high degree of noise and bias, it will serve less as a substitute for well-designed study and more as a time saver in preliminary research. Hochachka sees it as a potential “snapshot” tool: “if there was no other existing source of information,” Hochachka says, “or if you could gather information, but it would take a long time to collate it, and you wanted a snapshot right now.”

With their broad reach and increasing availability through machine learning analyses, Twitter and other social media may increasingly provide the big data that can help researchers support one avenue of research over another or suggest trends for further investigation.

This story is republished from Mongabay by Marianne Messina under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citations

Hart, A. G., Carpenter, W. S., Hlustik‐Smith, E., Reed, M., & Goodenough, A. E. (2018). Testing the potential of Twitter mining methods for data acquisition: Evaluating novel opportunities for ecological research in multiple taxa. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Leighton, G. R., Hugo, P. S., Roulin, A., & Amar, A. (2016). Just Google it: assessing the use of Google Images to describe geographical variation in visible traits of organisms. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 7(9), 1060-1070.  https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/2041-210X.12562

Rounds, R. C. (1987). Distribution and analysis of colourmorphs of the black bear (Ursus americanus). Journal of Biogeography, 521-538.

[post_title] => Managing the data deluge: Twitter as a tool for ecological research [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => twitter-ecological-research [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-08 16:29:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-08 15:29:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=101733 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 81983 [post_author] => 1650 [post_date] => 2018-06-14 07:58:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-14 06:58:19 [post_content] => There it is. A hefty hen, with its head up high and its beak out. And a gigantic VR headset over its beady little eyes. What does this battery hen see? ‘An experience of a free life’, according to American designer Austin Stewart. Second Livestock – shown last year at the ‘Robotic Wilderness’ exhibition of the Transnatural collective – is uncomfortable to watch, but it does uncover accurately the relationship we currently have with nature. Because no, this is not an image that we associate with nature. When we think of nature, we think of a hen freely scratching around a bit of bright and unspoiled green. Not of a battery hen, let alone with a VR headset.We often have a surprisingly romantic image of nature. Surprising, because you could ask yourself where that bit of unspoiled green can be found these days. Especially in the Netherlands, it is an illusion to think that nature in its purest for can exist. ‘God created the world, with the exception of the Netherlands. That the Dutch created themselves’, as Voltaire already described it. For example, nature reserves like the Oostvaardersplassen and ‘Het Groene Hart’ (The Green Heart) were originally industrial areas before they were transformed. And in the Markermeer five islands are currently being created the size of as many as one hundred football pitches to form a nature reserve. Nature that is just as man-made as an office park, as journalist Tracy Metz puts it strikingly.However, we continue to long for nature that is untouched, a wilderness, a purity. Sweet nature where we can breathe fresh air on weekends and a wilderness made by human hands where we can get lost in an orderly fashion.Nature seems to be a given, but it is something of which various different images can exist. The image of nature that comes to the fore is something that is closely connected to – however paradoxical it may be – its counterpart: technology. Our image of nature gives insight into our relationship with technology.[caption id="attachment_81986" align="alignnone" width="640"] Franchise Freedom by Studio Drift. Photo Measure[/caption]

Our image of nature reflects our relationship with technology

Roughly fifty years ago, the prevailing image of nature was that of a production landscape. Something over which we were the undisputed ruler, that we could use and have complete control over. Technology was a reliable partner. Of course, it is something that has never been free from debate – take, for example, the introduction of the television – but at that time the debate was limited to a relatively small part of our lives.Now, technology has taken up a different, more wide-ranging place in our lives. With the smartphone, everyone always has a screen in their pocket. When you walk down the street, you let yourself be guided by GPS or an algorithm, add an Instagram filter to everything, and are constantly in a parallel world of work emails and Facebook friends or sharing in the lives of vloggers. Technology has never had such a presence as it does today.This makes us increasingly aware of how much we are controlled by this technology. The smartphone and apps in particular, are shown to be designed in such a way that they try to capture our attention for as long as possible. They do this by playing to all manner of psychological vulnerabilities, which – ironically – are ingrained in human nature. For example, the round icon that notifies you of an incoming email or a missed call, and was initially green, has proven to be impossible for people to ignore now that it’s red.We live in a technological environment in which we feel more and more like puppets controlled by our smartphones, and so – indirectly – by the large tech companies. And on the horizon, an image looms of technology that is becoming even more powerful. Take, for example, robots that can open doors autonomously and algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves. During Dutch Design Week, VPRO Medialab presented the ‘Aura’ installation by Studio Nick Verstand at the ‘We know how you feel’ exhibition. This work measures the emotions of participants using three bio-sensors – a heartbeat, a brainwave, and a skin conductance sensor. Each emotion is made visible with colourful beams of light, and each colour corresponds to a specific emotion. Red beams of light, for example, could betray your nervous and tense feelings to the other visitors. This exposes your invisible inner emotional life for everyone to see.The installation was not only fascinating and poetic, but also aroused vulnerability. Our inner emotional life has long been something with which we humans set ourselves apart from animals, but also, in particular, from machines. Who are we as humans if machines can monitor or even control our emotions? And, as philosopher Alain de Botton says, humans in general are none too emotionally intelligent. We often make bad judgements and decisions relating to our emotions. Not much is needed for a machine to know us better than we know ourselves when it comes to our emotional life.Humankind’s position – for centuries unshakeable – is shifting. Writers like Yuval Harari and Luciano Floridi argue that we will lose our infallible position as rulers of the universe because of technology that operates more and more independently. We are moving towards a world in which humans and machines coexist. Our technological environment is taking on a grandeur that cannot be controlled, comparable to – how ironic – the role that nature has for centuries played for humankind.It is unsurprising that a countermovement is growing against the presence of technology in our lives. Detox is the key word in this context. People try to clamp down on moments in which you can use your smartphone. Dinner with the family without smartphones, so you can have real conversations again. Working without Internet, so you can be really productive again. Going on holiday without your phone, so you can really be in the moment again. A digital detox, so you can return to that bit of pure and unspoiled human being.It seems our search for an authentic nature experience is very logical. An image of pure, unspoiled nature is an image that can serve as an pardon. A license to feel a bit better when returning to our day-to-day environment that consists mainly of bricks and bits and feels increasingly lifeless.[caption id="attachment_81987" align="alignnone" width="640"] Chickens in VR, Second Livestock by Austin Stewart[/caption]

Nature according to human standards

That pardon may be logical, but it’s such a shame, it might be a sin. Because we miss so much when we get stuck in this romantic image of nature. In a time in which technology impacts so much – humans and their natural environment – it is of the greatest important to have an ongoing dialogue. It is a given what we are shifting to a new natural environment in which nature and technology will be more and more intertwined. And it is also a fact that that environment will ask us questions about what nature really is, or what a human being is.That’s not a bad thing. It gives us the resources to create nature according to human standards. To discover what we’re really searching for when we delve deep into nature for a detox. What are we looking for? What does that unspoiled bit of nature and, what’s more, that bit of unspoiled human being stand for? Simply lapsing into a dogma of detoxing and an unrealistic image of nature is not something on which you can build a solid foundation for a relationship with yourself and your environment.So it’s time to move onward, and to accept that we find ourselves in a ‘next nature’. A nature that just might derive its definition from everything that falls outside of human control. So that cultivated tomatoes or a hypoallergenic cat (there really is such a thing) will more likely fall into the culture category, while a computer virus or a file can be considered a natural phenomenon.And perhaps we will find, for example, that we are also able to discover the overwhelmingly majestic beauty, the sublime with which the 18th-century Romantics sang the praises of nature, in technological nature. Consider, for example, the art work FRANCHISE FREEDOM – a flying sculpture by Studio Drift in collaboration with BMW, in which three hundred luminous drones fly through the sky like a swarm of starlings. Watching the performance you realise that the magic and the beauty of the synchronised movements of a group of birds can also be created by technology.[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/253934552[/vimeo]But the most important reason to change our perspective on nature, is that it is not helpful to nature itself. For example, calculating the value of nature may feel cold and even improper, but, at the same time, it can help provide us with a tool against climate change. Our ECO coin is a first attempt to express ecological value in economic terms. How much is the Amazon rainforest worth? How much would you pay a farmer not to cut down a tree, but to leave it standing? This is extremely difficult to determine, but the current division between the economic system and our ecology is also an important reason behind why climate problems are an issue in the first place.And so, a battery hen with a VR headset might be something that feels unnatural according to traditional standards, but it might be something that fits within a new concept of nature according to human standards.This essay was published in the magazine The Dots no.15 with the theme Human Nature, designing the equilibrium and distributed during the Milan Design Week 2018. [post_title] => Getting rid of that bit of unspoiled green [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => getting-rid-of-that-bit-of-unspoiled-green [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-21 19:35:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-21 18:35:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=81983 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 80585 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2018-02-23 11:16:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-23 10:16:26 [post_content] => Rayfish Footwear was a fictional company that offered personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. This online science fiction story allowed customers to grow and design their own sneaker from a genetically modified fish, to question our (often all too consumptive) relationship with animals. Now, the company fiction is back: Catch Rayfish as part of FAKE at the Science Gallery in Dublin.

A phoney faux-pas expo?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Science Gallery Dublin, known for being one of the most creative, innovative and artistic venues in Ireland: A place where science, art, technology and design collide, unleashing their combined creative potential.

What to expect at FAKE? You will be challenged to look at the theme of ‘fake’ from both positive and negative perspectives. From biomimicry to forged documents, and from fake meat to scandals and fake emotions. Expect yourself to question when is "authenticity considered essential, copying cool, and what is the boundary between a phoney faux-pas and a really fantastic FAKE," thus the curator writes.

This makes us wonder, how do we perceive what’s fake from what’s real? In the case of Rayfish Footwear, one of our first projects here at NNN, the truth about it being fake took a little while to come out.

An online science fiction story...

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Visitors of the Rayfish website could grow their own sneaker with the online design tool: www.rayfish.com[/caption]

As you may remember, the launch of Rayfish Footwear back in 2012 raised a considerable debate on new biotechnologies, and questioned our – often all too consumptive – relationship with animals. With the creation of this fictional startup, we aimed to make that discussion tangible in a concrete product, a customized stingray leather sneaker, which consumers could either love or hate.

The promise was simple: Grow your own stingray with a pattern that you design. After a good life in the fishfarm, your fish is turned into a biocustomized sneaker.

While almost ten thousand people had designed their own fish sneaker on the Rayfish website, showing their desire for a biocustomized sneaker; almost the same amount of people had protested against the company, resulting in an intense discussion on the consumptive use of animals in our society.

[caption id="attachment_80660" align="alignnone" width="634"] A selection of customer-made sneakers.[/caption]

The Rise and Fall of Rayfish Footwear

During those days, the startup received lots of attention from prominent media, such as Wired, Huffington Post, among others, a fact that definitely contributed to further catalyze the debate. Rayfish seemed bound for success at the beginning, however, after animal rights activists broke into the company and released all the fishes in the ocean, Rayfish started struggling to find new investors. These series of events eventually led to more people questioning how legitimate this story was.

Not long after that, the fictional startup declared its bankruptcy and the true objective of the company was revealed in a ‘making of video’ titled "The Rise and Fall of Rayfish Footwear". This short documentary gave an overview of the entire project, its impact and the motivation of the makers to create this fictional story. Watch it here: [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGV4wxHRDKo[/youtube]FAKE runs from March 1st until June 3rd at Science Gallery in Dublin._________________________Your project on this website? Join the network!  [mc4wp_form id="72385"] [post_title] => The return of Rayfish Footwear? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => rayfish-footwear [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-07 11:28:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-07 10:28:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=80585 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 80629 [post_author] => 1561 [post_date] => 2018-02-21 10:30:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-21 09:30:05 [post_content] =>

It’s been called China’s “pork miracle.” For centuries, pig-rearing in the country was predominantly a backyard occupation. (The etymology of the Chinese character for “home” literally means “house with a pig in it.”) But since the 1980s, China has swiftly modernized its pork industry to meet the demands of a newly-rich middle class. Now, half of the world’s pigs — some 700 million animals — live and die in China, most in huge farms. And to help manage this porcine horde, the country’s farmers are turning to a decidedly untraditional tool: artificial intelligence.

It's basically an AI fitness tracker for pigs.

Earlier this month, Chinese tech giant Alibaba signed a deal with pig farming corporation Dekon Group and pig feed manufacturer Tequ Group to develop and deploy AI-powered pig-tracking systems. As reported by Chinese outlet Synced, the deal is worth tens of millions of dollars, and will primarily rely on machine vision to replace the wireless radio frequency tags (RFID) used to follow pigs about farms.

RFID tags are reliable, but expensive and time-consuming to manage. They have to be fitted to each pig, and scanned individually for tracking. With millions of animals raised each year in large farms, this can be a real bottleneck. “If you have 10 million pigs to raise, you can barely count how many piglets were born on a daily basis when the due date comes,” said Tequ Group’s chief information officer, Zhang Haifeng.

The solution is to use machine vision technology, tracking pigs using overhead cameras that identify numbers tattooed onto their bodies. At a basic level, this system will be able to count pigs and piglets, but Alibaba hopes it will also offer more sophisticated analysis.

"We’d like to translate AI technology into safe, tasty pork"

For example, by combining temperature readings from infrared sensors with records of how much each pig is moving each day, the AI will be able to estimate the health of individual animals. Connected “voice” recognition tools are even cleverer. One will alert farmers when piglets are being crushed by their mothers by listening out for young pigs’ squeals. (Alibaba claims this system alone will lower the death rate for piglets by three percent annually.) Another will try to monitor the spread of disease by recording the sounds of pigs coughing.

“On one hand, we hope to bring down husbandry costs and achieve agricultural reform,” said Alibaba’s Zhang Sheng, reports Chinese news agency Xinhua. “On the other hand, we’d like to translate AI technology into safe, tasty pork.”

China isn’t the only country interested in this synthesis of tech and farming. US agricultural giant Cargill recently starting testing facial recognition for cows, while last year, tractor-maker John Deere bought an AI startup that puts cameras in crop sprayers to identify and precisely target weeds with pesticides. To feed a growing population, farming will need to become more automated and efficient, and it’s tools like this that will help meet the demand.

This story was sourced from The Verge. Read the original piece here. [post_title] => Chinese farmers are using AI to help rear the world’s biggest pig population [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => chinese-farmers-using-ai-help-rear-worlds-biggest-pig-population [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-23 14:02:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-23 13:02:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=80629 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 78805 [post_author] => 367 [post_date] => 2017-11-26 10:00:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-26 08:00:24 [post_content] => As air traffic security you make sure that birds stay away from the airport using your eagle drone. With an accessory console, you fly the quadcopter from the sideline to scare birds and push them away from the engine of the planes. Thanks to your work, both the birds and the passengers will always be able to take off and land safely.The air traffic security worker is one of the 16 jobs from HUBOT, job agency for people and robots. Are you interested in this job? Take the HUBOT jobtest and discover which HUBOT job suits you best. [post_title] => HUBOT: Meet the Air Traffic Security Worker [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => hubot-meet-air-traffic-security [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-18 10:44:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-18 09:44:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=78805/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 10 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 126392 [post_author] => 2318 [post_date] => 2019-12-30 12:35:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-30 11:35:02 [post_content] =>

Intensive agriculture may be nourishing most of the Earth’s inhabitants, but it’s doing the opposite to earth itself. Its dependence on singular crops, heavy ploughing machinery, fossil-fuel based fertilisers and pesticides is degrading our soils wildlife and nutrient cycles, and contributing a quarter of the planet’s unwanted extra heat.

But we’re not powerless to change the future of food. Nature and technological innovation are tackling these problems head on – and if the solutions they’re offering are incorporated on a large scale and used together, a new agricultural revolution could be on its way. Here are three of the most exciting developments that can help farms not just feed the planet, but heal it too.

Crops, trees and livestock in harmony

Several UN reports have highlighted agroecology – farming that mimics the interactions and cycles of plants, animals and nutrients in the natural world – as a path to sustainable food.

The approach uses a wide variety of practices. For example, instead of artificial fertilisers, it improves soil quality by planting nutrient-fixing “cover crops” in between harvest crops, rotating crops across fields each season and composting organic waste. It supports wildlife, stores carbon, and conserves water through the planting of trees and wildflower banks.

It also integrates livestock with crops. This may seem counter-intuitive given their inefficient land use and high emissions. But having a small number of animals grazing land doesn’t have to accelerate global heating.

Grassland captures carbon dioxide. Animals eat the grass, and then return that carbon to the soil as excrement. The nutrients in the excrement and the continuous grazing of grass both help new grass roots to grow, increasing the capacity of the land to capture carbon.

Carefully managed grazing can help the environment, not harm it. Via Millie Olsen/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

Keep too many grazing animals in one place for too long and they eat too much grass and produce too much excrement for the soil to take on, meaning carbon is lost to the atmosphere. But if small numbers are constantly rotated into different fields, the soil can store enough extra carbon to counterbalance the extra methane emitted by livestock’s digestive rumblings.

While this doesn’t make them a carbon sink, livestock bring other benefits to the land. They keep soil naturally fertilised, and can also improve biodiversity by eating more aggressive plants, allowing others to grow. And if local breeds are adopted, they generally don’t require expensive feed and veterinary care, as they’re adapted to local conditions.

Pesticides no more

Pests, diseases and weeds cause almost 40% of crop losses globally – and without care, the figure could rise dramatically. Climate change is shifting where pests and diseases thrive, making it harder for farmers to stay resilient.

Many commonly used herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are now also under pressure to be banned because of their negative effects on the health of humans and wildlife. Even if they’re not, growing resistance to their action is making controlling weeds, pests and diseases increasingly challenging.

Nature is again providing answers here. Farmers are starting to use pesticides derived from plants, which tend to be much less toxic to the surrounding environment.

They’re also using natural enemies to keep threats at bay. Some may act as repellents, “pushing” pests away. For example, peppermint disgusts the flea beetle, a scourge to oilseed rape farmers. Others are “pulls”, attracting pests away from valuable crops. Plants that are attractive for egg-laying but that don’t support the survival of insect larvae are commonly used for this purpose.

Nasturtiums are pest magnets – and they’re edible too. Via Shutova Elena/Shutterstock

Technology is also offering solutions on this front. Some farmers are already using apps to monitor, warn and predict when pest and diseases will attack crops. Driverless tractors and intelligent sprayers that can target specific weeds or nutritional needs have recently entered the market. Agritech companies are now also developing robots that can scan fields, identify specific plants, and decide whether to use pesticide or to remove a plant mechanically.

In combination, these methods can dramatically reduce agriculture’s reliance on herbicides and pesticides without lowering crop yields. This is important, since the world’s population is set to rise by a quarter in the next three decades.

Small tech, big difference

Soon, technology at an almost impossibly small scale could make a big difference to the way we grow our food. Companies have designed nanoparticles 100,000 times smaller then the width of a human hair that release fertiliser and pesticides slowly but steadily, to minimise their use and maximise crop yields.

New gene-editing techniques will also increasingly use nanomaterials to transfer DNA to plants. These techniques can be used to detect the presence of pests and nutrient deficiencies, or simply improve their resistance to extreme weather and pests. Given that increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events due to global heating are putting the very functioning of the global food system at risk, these advancements could be vital for preventing agricultural collapse.

Nanotechnologies aren’t cheap yet and researchers have yet to conduct rigorous tests of how toxic nanomaterials are to humans and plants, and how durable they are. But should they pass these tests, agriculture will surely follow the path of other industries in adopting the technology on a large scale.

Save for nanotechnology and advanced robots, the above solutions are already in use in many small-scale and commercial farms – just not in combination. Imagine them working in synchrony and suddenly a vision of sustainable agriculture doesn’t seem so far away anymore.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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