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Archive for the category “agriculture”

Dutch Agricultural Success Knowledge-based

Stanford, that’s Silicon Valley.
Wageningen, that’s Food Valley.

[] – Food Valley

Sustainable Farming

Sustainable farming in Odoorn, Drenthe, Netherlands. 1050 solar panels produce 240,000 kWh/year. 33% for own use, rest sold. Energy is stored in 6m container-sized battery of 294 kWh capacity. Farm of 100 hectares. Crop: potatoes and malting barley. Tractor and irrigation-machine operate autonomous, controlled by GPS. Busy building a solar park on his terrain. Future goals: robotics and precision farming.

[] – Company site

Airborn Solar Panels

“Liftoff, we have a liftoff!”. Europe, one of those territories eagerly absorbing photo-voltaic energy generation, has a little bit of a space problem, being one of the most densely-populated areas in the world. A field covered with solar panels unfortunately can’t be used for agriculture. Or can it? The Fraunhofer Institute has found out that it is very well possible to use land for both agriculture and energy generation by stacking both functionalities.

Upshot agricultural yield: corn slightly negative, but grass and shadow-loving potatoes make no difference.

Influence partly shadowing on different crops

[] – Agrivoltaic
[] – Agrophotovoltaics Goes Global: from Chile to Vietnam
[] – 20 slides Fraunhofer Institute
[] – Fraunhofer Experiments In Chile And Vietnam Prove Value Of Agrophotovoltaic Farming
[] – Combining Solar Panels With Agriculture Makes Land More Productive

Asparagus Robot

The video claims this is the world’s first automatic asparagus harvesting robot, developed in Heeze, the Netherlands. It takes 60-75 pair of hands to harvest a field of 40 Hectare. The machine is projected to harvest 1 ha in 1 hour.

In the Netherlands the work is often done by Poles or Romanians. This practice could soon be history. Perhaps the future unemployed from Eastern-Europe use their knowledge to begin asparagus farming at home.

[] – Aspergerobot stuurt steker straks naar huis

“Chrissie” can do 1 ha in 8 hours:

Asparagus harvesting the old way:

Vertical Farming Taking Off


Vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, such as in a skyscraper, used warehouse, or shipping container. The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology, where all environmental factors can be controlled. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases…) and fertigation. Some vertical farms use techniques similar to greenhouses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting and metal reflectors

The concepts was pioneered first in 2014, with Vertical Fresh Farms operating in Buffalo, NY/USA, specializing in a wide variety of salad greens, herbs, and sprouts.

Vertical Fresh Farms has been farming commercially on a small scale in Buffalo, New York for a few years, but a larger scale commercial facility is currently under construction in the Netherlands. Fruit and vegetables supplier Staay Food Group is erecting a 900 square meter vertical farm, which will have a total cultivation area of 30,000 square meters.

[] – Vertical Farming Is Taking Off: Europe’s First Commercial Vertical Farm Under Construction In The Netherlands
[] – Vertical farming
[] – Grootste commerciële stadskwekerij van Europa in Dronten

LED-Lights in Greenhouses

Passengers approaching Amsterdam Airport from the SSW at night will observe an orange glow over a large area, originating from greenhouses in the Westland area, SW of The Hague. This is going to change though as growers replace conventional lighting with pink-colored LEDs. The energy bill can be halved with this measure.

[] – Tuinder Westland gaat over op knalroze led-lampen
[] – Met LED-verlichting energieverbruik glastuinbouw halveren

Growing Potatoes in the City

If you are living in the city and have a garden terrace or balcony only, you still can grow your own potatoes. The trick is to grow them in stories and as such multiply the limited space available.

In many countries, like the US, you can’t use your front yard for vegetable growing for aesthetic reasons. But there is work-around for that. The complete growth cycle varies between 90-150 days. First of all it takes perhaps 30 days for the potato to grow into a little plant like in the video above and are ready to be put in the bag. Eventually you need ca 1 m2 for a bag, but only if the plants are fully grown. Before that you place them on your terrace close up against each other. By the time you can’t see the plastic anymore you can move the bags to your front yard, for “decorative purposes”, wink wink nudge nudge.

aardappeleters-van-goghAardappeleters (Potatoe Eaters) – Vincent van Gogh (1885). The painting shows the simple life for peasant people in the village of Nuenen near Eindhoven. Van Gogh lived here for two years and was born in Zundert, also located in the Noord-Brabant province. Six years later Philips would be established in neighboring Eindhoven and would develop into one of the electronic giants on the planet. Take-away point: never underestimate the nutritious value of ordinary potatoes.

Read more…

Home Gardening – A Glimpse of the Future

People turning their ordinary garden in a vegetable garden. We did it as well. A freezer full with food from your own garden and powered by your own solar panels, that’s a new quality of well-begin.

Gepubliceerd op 14 dec. 2015

“I’m not a millionaire but I feel like one,” declares Gabriel Pliska. This Vancouver, B.C. urban farmer gives a tour of a residential front yard garden, including planted boxes in the boulevard strip beside the curb. Several homeowners provide him yard space and water for cultivating veggies, flowers, herbs, wildlife habitat and beauty. They receive beautifully tended gardens all year round (and some produce, too!) Gabriel harvests veggies for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes and sells the surplus at a weekly growers market. Gabriel’s “hyper-local” enterprise is achieved almost entirely on bike. We finish with images of his “guerrilla garden” on an unused railway spur, accompanied by a music track of with his own lyrics “Garden Nostalgia.” Episode 298.

Groundwater Depletion Worldwide


Two new studies show that the world’s population is consuming groundwater at a rapid pace even without knowing when it might run out. Satellite data revealed that a third of the world’s largest groundwater basins are in extreme distress. However, it is difficult to say how much water still remains in them.

  • Arabian Aquifer System the most overstressed groundwater source
  • The situation would only worsen

[] – World’s Groundwater Draining At Alarming Rate

Join the War on Lawns


Begin to prep now, avoid the rush later. Get rid of your lawn and grow your own food and store what you can’t consume immediately in the freezer. The latest three star freezers consume merely ca. 200 kWh/year, which can be generated using a single standard 165 cm * 100 cm 235 euro solar panel under grey Dutch conditions (using the grid to even out fluctuations).

Extra bonus: you can cancel that silly workout subscription as well as the ride to the gym and stop wasting physical energy there on a bike or on a treadmill. A garden will give you all the physical exercise you need.

Key figures: 1-4 kilo/m2 per harvest. Often you can harvest twice in a season. Assuming a daily need of 400 gram vegetables/fruit/potatoes, you can largely be self-sufficient with 40 m2/person.

[] – Trade Your Lawn for an Antifragile Food-generation Machine

[] – Peak Oil luminary James Howard Kunster giving the good example with his own veggie garden.

Californian Drought and the Power of the Lobby Groups

Water is getting scarce in California because of the seemingly never ending drought. Now the governor has decided that a consumption monitoring system needs to be in place to ensure that nobody uses too much. Except for the powerful farmers.

Agriculture accounts for 80 percent of the state’s water consumption, but 2 percent of the state’s economy. To spell it out a little more clearly: Under Jerry’s Brown water plan, it’s fine to use a gallon of subsidized water to grow a single almond in a desert, but if you take a shower that’s too long, prepare to be fined up to $500 per day.

Reason: agricultural lobbies have achieved that they are exempt from the restrictions and that water prices are artificially low; growers pay less than half of what city dwellers pay. If true market prices would prevail, there would not be a substantial agro-business in California, like there is none in the Libyan desert. Agriculture belongs in Iowa, not California.

[] – Drought and the Failure of Big Government in California

Almond plantation, soon history in California?

How to Make Plastic from Sugar Beets


Many peak oil doomers maintain that you can’t have an advanced society without fossil fuel. This can be debunked at least for the production of (biodegradable) plastic. Brussels intend to lift the quotum on the production of sugar beets from October 1, 2017. From then on the sky will be the limit. It is expected that European farmers will produce a lot more sugar beets, especially in the Netherlands, where currently 5% of the agricultural area is used for this purpose, but this number could grow to 14%. Purpose: plastic production. Expected investment volume for building three new processing plants in the coming 10 years: 1-3 billion euro.

[] – Hoe je van een suikerbiet plastic maakt

Planting sugar beets in Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands

Harvesting sugar beets. Seeing pictures like these it is not difficult to understand why modern Dutch agriculture only needs ca. 3% of the workforce to keep a vibrant sector going and is the 2nd largest agricultural exporter after the US, but before Germany and France.

Biodegradable plastic production from sugar beet (waste) in Italy

Urban Farming

Over 6,000 pounds of food per year, on 1/10 acre (400 m2) located just 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. The Dervaes family grows over 400 species of plants, 4,300 pounds of vegetable food, 900 chicken and 1,000 duck eggs, 25 lbs of honey, plus seasonal fruits throughout the year.

Editor: this is how many people in Ukraine and Russia already live and in the West soon many will live like this too. There is a life after the end of the oil age. You don’t need a nine-to-five in the cubicle, a car or a skying vacation or a trip to New Zealand or a second home. A home, 100 m2/person and a community is enough to live a free life as the Dervaes family proves.


[] – Jules Dervaes

Dessau-Roßlau Urban Gardening

140 km from Berlin, in Dessau-Roßlau, local authorities are stimulating the development of a local economy. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the city is in decline and lost more than a third of its original 100,000 inhabitants. As a consequence there is a lot of space available that nobody is interested in and the municipal authorities are unwilling/unable to maintain these empty spaces. In order to halt people from leaving Dessau, the city offers each of its citizens a piece of soil of 20m*20m, for free and for 10 years guaranteed. The idea of having gardens in a city is not new and has its origins in New York of the seventies, keyword “guerilla gardening“. This development could become big in a world of declining economy, increased unemployment and poverty, receding welfare state, sky-high fuel prices, and as a consequence with limited transportation possibilities.

[] – Urban agriculture


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World’s Top 10 Agricultural Exporters


Agricultural export in billion $ (2008):

USA 118
Netherlands 79
Germany 71
France 68
Brasil 55
Belgium 41
Italy 37
Canada 37
Spain 36
China 36

Source: FAO statistical yearbook 2010 (bottom right picture).

In other words, food exports are mainly realized by the West, a reality that reflects the food security map below:


[] – Who Are the Net Food Importing Countries?

Stacked Agriculture In Singapore

Youtube text: With land prices at a premium in Singapore, vertical farms with rotating vertical racks present a sustainable solution while cutting down pollution.

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