Due to the low level of soil fertility and the limited availability of water, the food situation in Africa is more serious than on any other continent. However, the people meet these challenges with an inventive spirit and much improvisation, in order to utilise all available resources.
Neglected for decades in terms of politics and science, the intensive cultivation of urban areas and the areas surrounding them makes an important contribution with regard to the income and food security of poor population groups, whilst at the same time carrying health and environmental risks. The goal of the “UrbanFoodPlus” project, which is coordinated by the University of Kassel and the Ruhr University, Bochum, is to understand, to boost, and to optimise the various forms of urban farming.Agricultural scientists and soil specialists, working together with economists, wastewater engineers, ethnologists from Göttingen and geographers from Freiburg, develop interdisciplinary approaches to unlocking the full potential of the growing of staple foods and vegetables, and of animal husbandry, in farming niches of urban areas and the surrounding areas. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will supply 4.3 million Euros over the next three years. This is a portion of the total of 7.5 million Euros that will be made available over a period of five years.
Initial field research takes place in Ouagadougou/Burkina Faso and Tamale/Ghana, and will then be extended to other West African cities. The trials will include small-scale crop-growing experiments, questioning of growers, sellers and administration representatives. There will also be extensive training measures on simple technological innovations, including the use of charcoal both as a water filter and an organic fertilizer.The scheme is divided into several project groups. A working group led by Bürkert is examining biodiversity, food efficiency, flow of materials and certification measures in vegetable production. Prof. Schlecht (University of Kassel and Georg August University, Göttingen), leads a project group that is analysing the efficiency of animal husbandry systems; this includes both the use of stock-feeds, and the utilisation of accumulating dung. Other project groups led by Prof. Marschner and Prof. Wichern (both from the Ruhr University, Bochum) determine the influence of natural fertilizers and household waste water on soil quality and product hygiene, aspects of food security, socio-political frame conditions (Prof. Schareika, University of Göttingen) and possible politico-economical profits derived from the suggested improvements (Prof. Löwenstein, University of Bochum). “Hereby, we want to take sociological and politico-economical consequences into account”, says Bürkert: “How do these urban economic cycles lower the risk of poverty? What part do the women play and how does their task in raising food security influence their role in society? What significance does this type of farming have, especially for ethnic minorities in society?” Prof. Drescher of the University of Freiburg concerns himself with this matter in particular.
Sebastian Mense | idw
Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy