This “living wagon” cleans greywater for reuse with marsh plants

Photo credit: Treehugger

© Wohnwagon

Green-roofed, off-grid Austrian microhome filters greywater for reuse

Kimberley Mok

by Kimberley Mok

© Wohnwagon -
© Wohnwagon –

We don’t see many tiny houses with green roofs, but Austria’s Wohnwagon (translated as “living wagon”) demonstrates that it can be done. Outfitted with distinctive, rounded ends and round porthole windows, the solar-powered tiny home also boasts its own water filtration system that cleans greywater for reuse — using marsh plants on its roof.

Read the full article: Treehugger

Forests, the obvious tool to alleviate climate change

Photo credit: Treehugger

© Moisés Silva Lima

The low-tech solution to cut carbon emissions in half

Margaret  Badore

by Margaret Badore

On Monday, leaders from around the world will meet in Paris with the goal of reaching a global agreement to fight disastrous levels of climate change. In order for such a goal to be a success, they’ll need to transition the world away from fossil fuels, but how fast that can happen remains to be seen.

While the switch from carbon-heavy fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies needs to happen as fast as possible in order to cut carbon emission, there’s another tool that shouldn’t be underestimated.

That tool is rainforests.

There’s no shortage of reasons why rainforests should be conserved and restored in their own right. They’re home to cultures, animals and plants that can’t survive anywhere else. But rainforests can help play a big role in sequestering carbon and the world weens itself off of fossil fuels.

In article published in Nature Climate Change earlier this week, climate experts fromRainforest Trust and the Woods Hole Research Center estimate that conserving and restoring tropical forests could cut carbon emissions by half.

It’s well known that forests are an important carbon sink, but right now, rainforest regions areas are contributing to emissions due to forest degradation and deforestation.

The article identifies three ways that trend could be turned around, and rainforests could start helping sequester carbon. First, if deforestation were to stop, so would the emissions produced by harvesting trees and slash-and-burn agriculture. Second, forests that are currently recovering from previous damage can capture carbon at a much higher rate—something to the tune of 3 gigatons of carbon per year.

Read the full article: Treehugger

Transforming cassava peels into high quality feed

Photo credit: ILRI News

Bags of high quality cassava peel mash feed, Ibadan, Nigeria (Photo credit: ILRI/Iheanacho Okike)

Processing African cassava peels, potentially a billion dollar business


With livestock production expected to more than double in the next 40 years, transforming cassava peels into high quality feed holds huge potential for African economies struggling to meet rapidly rising demand for animal-source products, according toresearch proposal recently published by three CGIAR centres.

Africa’s estimated 50 million tonnes of cassava peel waste per year could generate at least 15 million tonnes of HQCP, substantially addressing shortfalls in the supply of animal feed and eventually creating a USD 2 billion a year industry.

The research has been proposed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and International Potato Center (CIP), with the support of CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) on Root Tubers and Bananas (RTB), Humidtropics, and Livestock and Fish. Working closely with private sector partners, ILRI is leading the effort to develop and improve innovative technologies for processing cassava peels into high quality livestock feeds.

Within five years, the proposal sets out to facilitate the production of high quality feed from cassava peels, creating approximately 100,000 jobs and eliminating more than 20% of dangerous cassava peels from the environment. According to the projections, the knock on effects could benefit the wider African economy by as much as USD900 million over the project life, enabling the private sector to become independent, and drive increased uptake of related technologies and product uses.

Read the full article: ILRI News

Use of TerraCottem soil conditioner (TC) in Chinese greenhouses

Photo credit: WVC 1999-11

Use of TC in a Chinese greenhouse in HongHe (Gansu Province (P.R. China)


Report of the Chinese partner of a Belgian project set up by the TC-Dialogue Foundation

(1) English translation

(2) Chinese text

presented by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University – Belgium – Chairman of TC-Dialogue Foundation)







Photo WVC: Chinese greenhouse with garlic growing on soil treated with TC.
Photo WVC: Chinese greenhouse with garlic growing on soil treated with TC.
Photo WVC: Commemoration plate of the TC project in Hong He (Gansu Province, P.R. China).
Photo WVC: Commemoration plate of the TC project in Hong He (Gansu Province, P.R. China).
Photo WVC: Backside of the commemoration plate.
Photo WVC: Backside of the commemoration plate.





Inoculated Rhizobia bacteria to increase legume yields

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Sven Torfinn/Panos


Nitrogen-fixing tech aiding legume yields in Zimbabwe

Speed read

  • Smallholders are unable to afford fertilisers to increase crop yields
  • In Zimbabwe, use of low-cost fertiliser tech is increasing legume yields
  • At least 60,000 smallholders are using the technology

A low-cost nitrogen fixing technology for legume crops is being given to small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to improve national food and nutrition security.

The Chemistry and Soil Research Institute in Zimbabwe is distributing sachets that contain inoculated Rhizobia bacteria — a technique for adding bacteria to a carrier medium to improve biological nitrogen fixation — to farmers for increased yields and affordable organic fertilisers.

Emmanuel Chikwari, head of the institute, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, says this process is useful for meeting the nitrogen requirements of legume plants.

“This is a promising technology in the production of legume crops,” says Chikwari. “The inoculants can be added to the seed before planting.”

Nitrogen, he explains, is essential for photosynthesis, a process whereby plants make their own food in the presence of water, sunshine and carbon dioxide for vigorous growth and increased yields.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

IRC New Roots newly resettled refugees to grow food in community gardens and on urban farms

Photo credit: Food Tank

Resettled refugees grow food as part of the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program.
Susanna Byrd


Refugees Grow Roots in the United States

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a non-profit organization helping refugees rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Every year, the IRC works with thousands of displaced people, whose lives have been shattered by war and oppression, to find new homes, jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities in 24 cities in the United States. The IRC New Roots program provides newly resettled refugees with opportunities to grow food in community gardens and on urban farms. New Roots assists resettled refugees in finding land, supports participants to hone their food production skills, and is building marketing and food access opportunities in several communities around the country.

Aley Kent, an IRC National Technical Advisor for Food Security and Agriculture, and Elizabeth Moore, Farm Manager of the New Roots Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke with Food Tank about the important role of food production in the refugee resettlement process.

Food Tank (FT): How did the New Roots program begin?

Aley Kent (AK): Around 2005, a staff member working in the San Diego office was talking to some Somali women about options for them in the U.S. A lot of them did not have your typical job readiness skills that most employers look for in this country. However, the women were saying, “We want to farm! Is there a place that we can grow food? We want our kids to understand our roots. Can you help us do that? Maybe we can make money that way!” So, the idea of New Roots was born.

FT: How is New Roots an important piece of the resettlement process?


To identify areas where water use produces poor crops

Photo credit: FAO

All countries in North Africa and the Near East suffer from severe water scarcity, raising significant challenges for agriculture that are expected to be compounded by climate change.


Netherlands donates $7 million to improve water management in Near East and Africa

Remote sensing satellite imagery will help to identify areas where water use produces poor crops

The Netherlands and FAO are expanding their collaboration in the area of water management with a $7 million donation by the Dutch government to support the use of remote sensing technology in helping water-scarcecountries in the Near East and Africa monitor and improve the way they use water for crop production.

The additional donation brings the total budget up to $10 million for the Dutch-funded project that uses satellite data to find land areas where water use is not translating into optimal agricultural production, identify the source of the problem and recommend different planting and irrigation techniques.

“The project uses some of the most advanced technologies and takes into account the ecosystems and the equitable use of water resources,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at an event marking the extended agreement at FAO headquarters in Rome.

He highlighted the importance of the project on the eve of the UN climate conference in Paris, noting the added stress that climate change places on farmers in the way they manage limited water resources.

“We all know that water is becoming scarce while at the same time it is crucial to producing enough good food for a growing number of people,” said Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO Gerda Verburg.

“With this innovative remote sense approach to improving water productivity we give farmers a concrete tool to take decisions about the best use of water and what kind of crops to grow — but also about the growing season so that they can target their investments,” she added.

The data tools created under the project, which will be freely available to governments and farmers alike, also aim to help policymakers in taking evidence-based policy decisions.

Some 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawn worldwide is used for agriculture – a figure that rises to as much as 95 percent in certain developing countries, posing major challenges to the sustainability of food production.

Growing scarcity of and competition for water also threaten to derail poverty alleviation efforts, especially in semi-arid rural areas where access to for this precious resource to grow food and rear livestock is essential for stable livelihoods.

How it works

Read the full article: FAO