July 07, 2016

An App Transforms Farming in India and Other News

By Chelsea Follett
Simple innovations can help solve big problems. From kelp which eases ocean acidification to a 50 cent paper strip that could combat malaria, here are a few recent examples.  

50 Cent Test to Combat Diseases

At The Ohio State University, researchers are developing an affordable and easy way to test for malaria, cancer or any disease that the body fights with antibodies. The test comes in the form of a paper strip that would cost 50 cents and would only require a drop of blood; making it accessible to populations like those in rural Africa and Asia. Researchers successfully tested samples showing they could identify the protein biomarkers for both the most prevalent strain of malaria and for ovarian cancer - even if the sample were 30 days old. If this technology shows positive results in a clinical setting, it could mean a dramatic change for the world of medicine.

An App Changes Farming in India

An application designed by Microsoft India will offer farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh access to data that will make avoiding agricultural losses easier. The application will provide farmers with information on soil, weather, temperature, and rainfall, as well as, telling farmers which week to sow seeds and fertilize their crops. The data given to each farmer is specific to each individual since it is based on type of crop, location, and other variables. Farmers can also receive the data through SMS.  

Kelp Eases Impact of Ocean Acidification

A team of scientist unloaded 150 ft. line of seaweed spores into to the Puget Sound for a study that will monitor if kelp absorption of CO2 is enough to combat the effects of ocean acidification locally. Initial positive results were seen in Casco Bay kelp farm where the seawater of the farm showed a 25% higher rate of carbon saturation. If the results are promising then kelp may offer a local way to ease the impact ocean acidification has on marine life.

Vertical Farms Offer a More Efficient Direction

"Vertical farms" could be the future for growing the world's food. These indoor farms can be as small as 600 sq. ft. or as large as 70,000 sq. ft. However, every farm houses rows of vertically stacked trays of microgreens grown under LED lights. The greens are grown using a system called hydroponics. Hydroponics is a process where instead of soil; the roots of plants are placed in a nutrient-rich solution. ‘Vertical farming’ has reduced usage of water and fertilizer and is free of chemical pesticides. Compared to traditional farming, ‘vertical farming’ can generate at least around “20 times the amount of food per unit area.”