Plants in Space Have Down to Earth Applications

ambria smallBy Ambria Small, Plant Health Management major

Agriculture has made leaps and bounds over the past few thousand years. From domestication to genetic modification, from weed management to drones scouting for apple scab, the boundaries of agriculture has never been so broad. Now, food-production systems are meeting a new frontier. The private spaceflight company, SpaceX, launched their Dragon capsule in April. Within it is a very special project that they call “Veggie” containing living “Outredgeous” lettuce plants.

The “Veggie”, or Veg-01, is not the first of its kind. The Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems, partnered with Utah State University, has had Lada (their miniature greenhouse) in orbit since 2002. Since its start, Lada has proven species of peas, lettuce, and wheat safe to eat. Why is this important?

Eventually, manned space missions will get longer, and astronauts will need to become self-dependent. SpaceX is initiating plans to have a space colony on Mars in the 2030’s, and within the blueprints are greenhouse units. As well as improving conditions in space, the research can have massive impacts for agriculture on Earth.

plants on international space stationBy 2050, the human population is projected to be 9 billion strong, which will demand a 70% more food. The research done on plant water and nutrient use efficiency will improve land use efficiency back on Earth. Questions regarding crops plants’ most basic needs will be answered by taking plants into an environment where we can only afford to give them the basics.

I’m a senior at OSU,  majoring in Plant Health Management, and representing the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Global issues of hunger can be solved through the space programs, by focusing research on plant-microbe symbiosis, efficient water and nutrient application, and applying new technology such as transgenics. Agriculture has the impossible task of more than doubling its output in a world of limited supplies, and I hope to aid in this goal.

Veggie Plant Growth System on the International Space Station > More info

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor

Microbes and You: Home Brewed Bacteria Health Drink?

by Peter Flynn, BA Psychology

Health crazes, fads, and exotic diets have grown in popularity since the 21st century.  People desire to be healthy and will go to pretty extreme measures to attain good health.  But how far would you go?

Would you be willing to drink sweetened black that tea, that has been fermenting in room temperature for about nine days in a pool of microbnes?  Well if you answer yes to this question, then Kombucha is right for you.  This sweetened tea has been transformed into an evanescent, lightly carbonated, semi-sweet beverage, chock full of probiotics and antioxidants.

How?  Through the introduction of a SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.  The brown, rubbery, frisbee shaped microbes live off the simple sugars in the sweetened tea, eating them and converting them into probiotics and antioxidants beneficial to detoxification, joint care, digestion, gut health, and immune boosting.

But perhaps this long list of terminology has made you feel like Romeo longing for his far off Juliet, making you think this desirable elixir is too far off.  Well don’t buy into that lie!  This potent potion can easily be made in your own kitchen for the price equivalent to that of a fast food burrito.  All one needs is a gallon glass jar, a gallon of water, a cup of table sugar, twelve tea bags, and a starting bottle of Kombucha that one can purchase at any health foods store.

Don’t wait any longer!  Grab your ingredients and grow the culture, capable of bringing you years of healthful living!

> More Info
(this is for information purposes only; this product is unknown to us and we do not endorse it)

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor

Green-Revolution Agriculture: Centralizing Wealth and Land for Over Fifty Years

by Brewster Frusher, BS Agriculture – Sustainable Plant Systems 2014

I want to have a small farm of my own: this month, I completed a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in sustainable agriculture; I have no aversion to rising before the sun and falling after it; I have had a job throughout my time in school and have farmed the last two summers. Despite my efforts, my dream of having my own farm seems more and more like a fantasy.

Like most humans, I was not born into a family with wealth or land. When I hear fellow students talk about their family’s 500, 1000, 2000 acres of soy and corn, I become frustrated. Not at them or their families necessarily, but at the system that has contributed to this centralization of wealth and land.

Like all expensive innovations, Green-Revolution technologies such as Genetically Modified (GM) seed, chemical inputs and the fuel needed to operate over large tracts of land, have centralized wealth and land holdings while further marginalizing the less fortunate. Those who have the money to adopt new technologies see greater profits and expand their land holdings to further increase production and wealth. Those not born into wealth are left out as land prices increase.

Green-revolution technologies incentivize large-scale monocultures and mechanization. These inherent characteristics of the Green Revolution leave our food supply vulnerable to both disease and increases in the price of energy, respectively. It is the dependency on a smaller number of farmers, crops and energy sources that necessitate a change in our food system.

Supporting smaller, local, more diversified farms will lead to an increasing number of smaller, local, more diversified farms, building a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable food system.  The article linked below examines some of these issues at the global scale.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/radical_un_report_promotes_democratic_control_of_food_20140320

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor

Earth Day Projects Plant Seeds of Empowerment

by Julia McCullough, Middle Childhood Education (mccullough.193@osu.edu)
PLNTPTH 4597

Johnny has eight apples and if he shares them with Tabitha, Sarah, and Billy, how many apples does each person get? A far more important question, why should students care? Who cares about these imaginary problems with imaginary people that we write into school books and expect students to excitedly answer?

There are plenty of problems in the world that need to be solved, why make fake ones up? April 22 is Earth Day, and  schools are using the day to inspire students to practice real-life problem solving to make the Earth a better place. From recycling programs to school gardens, Earth Day projects not only make a school greener, but also give students real problems that they really get to solve. What is more empowering to a student than saving the world through environmental work? Being able to do it on their own!

Making calculations on amount of recyclables, creating artistic ad campaigns and writing to state governments to make better environmental decisions are all great ways for students to practice the content they must learn, while solving real life problems.

Suggestions for other projects can be found here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ted-wells/earth-day-ideas-from-my-s_b_5042170.html
As well as here: http://edu.earthday.org/blog/2014/04/09/earth-day-network-and-forestnation-launch-new-school-fundraiser
School garden information can be found here: http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/.

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This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor