Soil-powered fuel cell promises cheap, sustainable water purification

Soil-powered fuel cell promises cheap, sustainable water purification

Soil microbial fuel cells as designed by researchers at the University of Bath. Credit: University of Bath

Engineers at the University of Bath have shown that it’s possible to capture and use energy created by the natural reactions occurring in microorganisms within soil.

A team of chemical and electrical engineers has demonstrated the potential of cheap, simple “soil microbial fuel cells” (SMFCs), buried in the earth to power an electrochemical … [more…]

Sinking Lands, Damaged Infrastructure: Will Better Groundwater Management End Subsidence?

Sinking Lands, Damaged Infrastructure: Will Better Groundwater Management End Subsidence?

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, work continues on managing groundwater for long-term sustainability, as required by California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series , we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where … [more…]

How one Wisconsin farm pursues land and water conservation

photo: the Brey family farm. How one Wisconsin farm pursues land and water conservation

Do you know the purpose, cause, or belief that drives you?

Author Simon Sinek calls this “finding your why.”

On my family’s dairy farm in Door County, Wisconsin, our why is, “To learn and adapt so that all may have a quality life.”

Every day, we face new challenges on Brey Cycle Farm. Although it has been in our family since 1904, the farm has changed to adapt to the … [more…]

Divining roots—revealing how plants branch out to access water

Divining roots—revealing how plants branch out to access water

Arabidopsis thaliana root growing on soil preferentially branching towards moist soil. Credit: Daniel von Wangenheim

New research has discovered how plant roots sense the availability of moisture in soil and then adapt their shape to optimise acquisition of water.

The discovery could enable crops to be bred which are more adaptive to changes in climate conditions, such as water scarcity, and help ensure food security in the future.

These findings, … [more…]

Building Roots for a More Water Secure California

photo: showing the difference between healthy soil and barren soil.

Photo: NRCS Scientists Holding Up Two Soil Samples. US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service

The recently released National Climate Assessment discussed the impacts of climate change on our nation’s water supply and agricultural productivity. The levels of uncertainty regarding the future of our water supply are troubling. Changes in precipitation patterns will intensify droughts and increase heavy downpours. Hotter, more extreme weather will disrupt how well and how … [more…]