Category: Agriculture

Pesticides – Impact on Health and Environment

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Do you know that worldwide pesticides consumption is around 2 million tonnes per year? That’s huge. Moreover, the global expenditure on pesticide at producer level are nearly $56 billion, of which 14% of the expenditure is taken by insecticides.

Pesticides have become an integral part of modern life and widely used to prevent the growth of unwanted living organisms. Due to the increasing population, the amount of food produced is important but there are other organisms that are striving to consume the crops meant for humans. When this happens, it results in huge economic losses.

 

Due to this huge loss in food production, pesticides are often used to prevent the pests. This results in so much money spent on pesticides. The benefits of pesticides can be categorised into two types – primary and secondary.

Primary Benefits

  • Controlling pests and plant disease: This includes controlling invasive species and improved crop quality and reduced soil disturbances.
  • Preventing organisms that harm human activities and structures: Pesticides products like Suspended SC help us prevent organisms that attack or destroy properties such as termites, cockroaches Infestation, etc.

Secondary Benefits

  • Community Benefits: Benefits like nutrition and health improvements, food safety and reduced maintenance costs.
  • Global Benefits: Less pressure on uncropped land and international tourism revenue.

Risks

  • Toxic to humans.
  • Negative impacts on ecosystem and environment

Pesticides are meant for harming only the targetted pest, but when used incorrectly it could harm people and environment. Here are the studies on the potential health effects of pesticides.

Lack of Regulations

Poisoning by pesticides is a global public health problem. This poisoning is more serious in the developing countries despite the fact that pesticides are sold in large quantities in the developed countries. One of the reasons for this is the lack of pesticide control laws and training programmes for pesticide users and inspectors in the developing world. Studies shows that around 25% of developing countries lacks rules and laws regulating pesticide use and its distribution.

Pesticides Regulations

In most countries, pesticides are regulated when it is approved for sale and should be used by Government Agency. During the registration process, the pesticides are given labels which mention the safety and hazard warning along with its usage. It also undergoes measurement of acute toxicity test and then classified into one of the toxic classes. Almost all deadly categorised pesticides and insecticides with severe health hazards are banned in most countries. The ban is imposed on pesticides which shows risk at very low level of exposures.

Environmental impact of pesticides

The environmental impacts of pesticides are either direct or indirect damage they cause to plants, animals and microorganisms and varies from minor injuries to death.

Environmental impacts can be categorised into two parts:

  • Damage to animals (Vertebrates & Invertebrates) & plants.
  • Pest resistance to pesticides

Pesticides use has two main unintentional effects on vertebrate wildlife by feeding on the contaminate plants and prey or exposure to high doses and poorer survival, growth and reproduction.

Apart from pesticides impacts on the environment, pesticides help farmers to combat pests and produce larger quantities of food. Farmers also able to earn more profit by having to sell more. Pesticides help farmers save money on labour costs as well.

Malaria, a deadly disease caused by infected Mosquitoes and others like bubonic plague and fleas transmitted by Rats and flea or body lice is reduced due to the usage of pesticides in agriculture sectors, as discussed in the research studies.

An Entomology, Matan Shelomi a published writer on Quora says in his answers that you’re ingesting pesticides and it is no problem at all and he explains it why is it not a problem. He explained that not all pesticides are toxic at all and said many pesticides degrade over time, by the time food reaches you there will be no traces of pesticides in it.

Many edible parts of the food are not sprayed with pesticides. He mentioned that what is deadly to plants and insects is not deadly for mammals and vice versa. Remember again that organic farmers use pesticides and sometimes much more than necessary.

Many NGOs and residents are against pesticides. Some are against due to the lack of knowledge or they believe that we are being exposed to many pesticides and government is literally helping it in the causes.

It is also encouraged by some organic food companies that conventional food companies are using a lot of pesticides and making wrong impacts on people and creating issues of using pesticides which don’t even have an impact on the people eating that food. Pesticides cause health problem to the people working in the field, like farmers, and even people living nearby.

5 Innovative Ways to Make Urban Farming More Sustainable

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Urban farms are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Creative farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to within tall, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in making sure that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are 5 ways to maximize sustainability in your urban farm.

Rooftop Farming

One literally ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture is rooftop farming. This method makes clever use of an urban space that is typically unused and has been praised for its positive environmental impact. Rooftop farms provide extra insulation for buildings, lower temperatures in summer and maintain heat in the winter. These factors translate to less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.

Plants grown on rooftops capture moisture in the air, which means that rooftop farms also help reduce the storm water flow that can pollute waterways and overwhelm sewage treatment facilities.

Vertical farming

Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical farms are created with tall enclosed structures, using height to maximize growth. This innovative approach to urban farming can help to maintain crop production all year round, without relying on favorable weather conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use.

Establishing vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help to create a more sustainable environment by contributing to less abandoned buildings, a cleaner atmosphere, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of the surrounding communities.

Shipping Container Farming

Recently, using shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There is an abundance of shipping containers that are left unused every year, free to be used as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable and stackable: ready to be placed as a container farm on any site with a strong, level surface.

The versatility of shipping containers provides a range of opportunities to create an enclosed ‘farm’ in any location, from your backyard to corporate campuses. Compared to traditional fixed structures, container farms can be set up in a relatively short period of time.

Using Hydroponic Systems

Innovative new growing techniques have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. This method has been shown to have some environmental benefits.

The controlled and closed environment of hydroponic systems usually eliminates the need for pesticides, meaning less poisonous chemicals on the food and plants grown. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less strain on water systems. This sustainable style of growing has become a top choice for many large-scale greenhouses.

Using Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Simply put, this method combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. Many farmers have embraced this method to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health within their local communities.

Aquaponic systems can grow many types of food without consuming too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment in this method actually require power – and in most systems, the water is circulated rather than disposed of after use. Using this style of indoor urban farming, you can ultimately grow more food while using less water, labor and land.

Biofuels from Waste

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A variety of fuels can be produced from waste resources including liquid fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and gaseous fuels, such as hydrogen and methane. The resource base for biofuel production is composed of a wide variety of forestry and agricultural resources, industrial processing residues, and municipal solid and urban wood residues. Globally, biofuels are most commonly used to power vehicles, heat homes, and for cooking.

The largest potential feedstock for ethanol is lignocellulosic biomass wastes, which includes materials such as agricultural residues (corn stover, crop straws and bagasse), herbaceous crops (alfalfa, switchgrass), short rotation woody crops, forestry residues, waste paper and other wastes (municipal and industrial). Bioethanol production from these feedstocks could be an attractive alternative for disposal of these residues. Importantly, lignocellulosic feedstocks do not interfere with food security.

Ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass is produced mainly via biochemical routes. The three major steps involved are pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation. Biomass is pretreated to improve the accessibility of enzymes. After pretreatment, biomass undergoes enzymatic hydrolysis for conversion of polysaccharides into monomer sugars, such as glucose and xylose. Subsequently, sugars are fermented to ethanol by the use of different microorganisms.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Why Steel Silos are a Better Option for Grain Storage

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The importance of grain to the farmer or cultivator could be likened to the importance of a statue or waxwork to an artist or sculptor. You just cannot afford to let the artistic work go to waste- isn’t it? It’s perseverance implies it’s coming to maximum profitable use. That same way, one cannot stand the idea of the food grains not being stored properly and safely.

The next importance and obvious step is where to preserve the grains?

To be frank, there are a lot many advantages of using the steel silos for grain storage vis-à-vis using the warehouses for storage.

For starters, you’d rather use a vertical storage platform for storage of the food grain as compared to any other.

When it comes to storing the food grains in a warehouse, then it means their storage in a horizontal format.

This key differentiation has it’s own set of importance:

Using steel silos for storage of grains makes way for availability of more ground surface area. The simple reason being vertical storage structures occupy less ground surface. So you can do whatever you wish to with the surface area that’s left.

Cost advantages and economic benefits

Steel silos for grain storage is also a cost-friendly and an economical method.

Wondering how?

Well, the lesser space you take for storage, the lesser rent you pay on account of the slot booked for storage- isn’t it?

Another reason that points to the economies of scale is that when one uses the steel silos for grain storage, one needn’t incur an additional set of costs as what one would in the case of opting to go for a traditional warehouse. It’s pretty simple. In the case of the latter, one needn’t undergo the process of automation of the grain transport equipment.

The assembling costs, when using steel silos vis-à-vis the warehouses is much lesser. So that’s another automatic choice for the farmers and storage experts- isn’t it?

A long-term reliable method

Fundamentally, stainless steel storage containers are also a better solution for storage of the food-grains, from the perspective of long-term reliability.

At the end of the day, the greatest cause of concern in front of a farmer is that of ensuring the safety and sustenance of his produce, which in this case, means the grains.

Not only is the avoidance of plastic and other material such as concrete a better solution in terms of environmental aspect, but also it pays to store the grains in steel silos.

It’s a well-established fact that using silos that are made of the stainless steel material is a big positive for the environment because the material isn’t known to add excess to the degradation. And Rostfrei Steels Pvt. Ltd. is one of the major cost-effective steel silo supplier in industry.

It’s cost effective in the process of manufacturing and at the end of the day, the farmer and producer wants something that can uphold and protect the grains more reliably. That aspect is covered thanks to steel silos being of a higher tensile strength.

And when that aspect is ensured, why would anyone opt for another storage material.

Thermal Processing of Agricultural Wastes

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Agricultural wastes are highly important sources of biomass fuels for both the domestic and industrial sectors. Availability of primary residues for energy application is usually low since collection is difficult and they have other uses as fertilizer, animal feed etc. However secondary residues are usually available in relatively large quantities at the processing site and may be used as captive energy source for the same processing plant involving minimal transportation and handling cost.

Agricultural wastes encompasses all agricultural wastes such as straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. which come from cereals (rice, wheat, maize or corn, sorghum, barley, millet), cotton, groundnut, jute, legumes (tomato, bean, soy) coffee, coconut, cacao, tea, fruits (banana, mango, coco, cashew) and palm oil.

A wide range of thermal technologies exists to convert the energy stored in agricultural wastes to more useful forms of energy. These technologies can be classified according to the principal energy carrier produced in the conversion process. The major methods of thermal conversion are combustion in excess air, gasification in reduced air, and pyrolysis in the absence of air.

Conventional combustion technologies raise steam through the combustion of biomass. This steam may then be expanded through a conventional turbo-alternator to produce electricity. Co-firing or co-combustion of agricultural wastes with coal and other fossil fuels can provide a short-term, low-risk, low-cost option for producing renewable energy while simultaneously reducing the use of fossil fuels. Co-firing has the major advantage of avoiding the construction of new, dedicated, biomass power plant.

Gasification of agricultural wastes takes place in a restricted supply of oxygen and occurs through initial devolatilization of the biomass, combustion of the volatile material and char, and further reduction to produce a fuel gas rich in carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This combustible gas has a lower calorific value than natural gas but can still be used as fuel for boilers, for engines, and potentially for combustion turbines after cleaning the gas stream of tars and particulates. Biomass power systems using gasification has followed two divergent pathways, which are a function of the scale of operations. At sizes much less than 1MW, the preferred technology combination today is a moving bed gasifier and ICE combination, while at scales much larger than 10 MW, the combination is of a fluidized bed gasifier and a gas turbine.

Pyrolysis enables agricultural residues to be converted to a combination of solid char, gas and a liquid bio-oil. Pyrolysis technologies are generally categorized as “fast” or “slow” according to the time taken for processing the feed into pyrolysis products. Bio-oil can act as a liquid fuel or as a feedstock for chemical production. A range of bio-oil production processes are under development, including fluid bed reactors, ablative pyrolysis, entrained flow reactors, rotating cone reactors, and vacuum pyrolysis.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

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