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2005 Archive
Growth Spurts blog

Cotton-Flax Blend Developed for Cooler Denim
A new cotton-flax frabic blend developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists holds promise for a new generation of denim jeans that are cooler to wear in summer weather, yet still hold up well under heavy use. Nearly three times stronger than cotton, flax is among the strongest natural fibers known. Adding flax to clothing fabric will help keep skin cool because the flax improves moisture wicking, the ability of fabric to pull moisture away from the skin. Another value-added feature is air permeability, the ability of fabric to dry quickly. ARS researchers are evaluating cotton-flax blends for use in sportswear and other apparel. ARS Cotton Quality Research Station in Clemson, S.C., whether the new fabric has been developed, is now looking for industry partners to take the technology to the next level of development. Comments

Save on Inputs with Nitrogen Testing
As fertilizer prices increase, farmers can save money and maximize profits by taking into account residual soil nitrogen. Many farms have residual nitrogen in their soil profile leftover from past fertilizer applications, Soil testing can detect this leftover nitrogen and save farmers money in reduced commercial nitrogen costs. For example, if a farmer found 80 pounds of residual nitrogen per acre, he or she could save about $16 per acre when commercial nitrogen costs 20 cents per pound and $24 per acre when it costs 30 cents per pound. Soil specialists recommend taking deep soil samples -- at least 24 inches -- to test for nitrogen yearly. They also recommend testing soil organic matter about every 5 years. Soil organic matter does not change as frequently as nitrogen. Testing soil organic matter requires a shallower test -- about 8 inches. When taking soil tests, a 160-acre field, for example, should be divided into four areas and 12 to 15 samples should be taken in each quadrant. These samples should be mixed well, then about a pint of soil should be sent to the lab for analysis. Fewer deep soil samples, about eight to 10 per quadrant, are necessary for residual soil nitrogen analysis. Soil sampling and analysis costs about $1 per acre. With nitrogen at 20 cents per pound, as little as 5 pounds of residual nitrogen covers soil sampling costs and analysis. Fall and spring both are good times to sample soils. Fall is especially a good time because it allows farmers to get their soil analyzed and back before spring nitrogen applications. Guidelines for soil sampling are available on the Web at and Comments

Heirloom Seeds And Their Keepers Marginality And Memory In The Conservation Of Biological Diversity by Virginia D. Nazarea. This book explores the role of seedsavers in the perpetuation of biological diversity. Indexed. 193 pages.

Food, Inc. 
Mendel to Monsanto -- The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest
by Peter Pringle
November 1, 2005                                                                          Posted by: Manager
Measuring the Risk of GM Antibiotic-Resistance Markers
Antibiotic-resistance markers in genetically modified (GM) plants are less of a risk to human health than the improper use of prescription antibiotics in medical practice and their use as animal growth promoters, concludes a review article published in the October issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The safety of incorporating antibiotic-resistance markers into GM plants has been questioned since the early stages of their development because of the possibility that antibiotic-resistance genes might be passed from GM plants to bacteria, thus creating bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics such as those used to treat common skin, ear, and eye infections. "Once the transgenic plant has grown, the antobiotic gene no longer performs any useful function, becoming excess baggage, but the plant continues to produce the antibiotic-resistant enzyme," explains Peter Pringle in his journalistic history of biotechnology, Food, Inc.. "Anyone who eats the plant will also eat the enzyme. In theory, the enzyme could deactivate the antibiotic function of kanamycin in human beings who eat the food, thus reducing the drug's therapeutic value." Comments
Brussel Sprouts A Summer Sensation
While Brussel sprouts are typically associated with Christmas turkey, stuffing and trimmings in Britain, a new generation of chefs and cooks is taking to the healthy and versatile vegetable with enthusiasm, making it as seasonal as salad, according to the Eastern Daily Press. New early varieties have transformed the market for Brussel sprouts. “Traditionally sprouts were once considered only a winter time food but adventurous chefs have made them a versatile vegetable that is now enjoyed all the year round,” said Tesco sprout buyer Andy Carter.
Brussels Sprouts
Flower Vendors
Contract Flower Planting in Malaysia
The planting of flowers on contract basis is being introduced in Malaysia, with government's approval, as a measure to help to produce more flower growers. According to Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, a huge company in Malaysia has obtained more orders for flowers than it can fill. Through contract planting, the company hopes to obtain supplies from small growers to cater to the demand, the Malaysian news agency Bernama reports. The company will supply seeds and fertilisers to the flower growers and is committed to buy back the flowers produced. The small-scale growers could get returns of at least between RM1,500 to RM2,000 per month for the supply of flowers to fulfil the company's demand, Muhyiddin said.
Getting Over Organophosphates
The demise of organophosphate insecticides -­ including well-known products like diazinon, chlorpyrifos and malathion -­ has resulted in a trend toward less-toxic and more environmentally friendly insect control on California farms. This includes innovative and technologically advanced methods such as the use of pheromones to disrupt insect mating, "biological control" of nonnative pest insects using their natural enemies, and applications of less-toxic and more insect-specific alternative pesticides. details

Farm Engines and How to Run Them
A Simple, Practical Handbook for Experts and Amateurs 

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