The smell of oregano wafting from Scott Sechler’s office is so strong that anyone visiting Bell & Evans these days could be forgiven for wondering whether Mr. Sechler has forsaken the production of chicken and gone into pizza. Oregano lies loose in trays and tied into bunches on tabletops and counters, and a big, blue drum that held oregano oil stands in the corner. “Have you ever tried oregano tea?” Mr. Sechler asked, mashing leaves between his broad fingers. Off and on over the last three years or so, his chickens have been eating a specially milled diet laced with oregano oil and a touch of cinnamon. Mr. Sechler swears by the concoction as a way to fight off bacterial diseases that plague meat and poultry producers without resorting to antibiotics, which some experts say can be detrimental to the humans who eat the meat. Products at Bell & Evans, based in this town about 30 miles east of Harrisburg, have long been free of antibiotics, contributing to the company’s financial success as consumers have demanded purer foods. But Mr. Sechler said that nothing he had used as a substitute in the past worked as well as oregano oil. “I have worried a bit about how I’m going to sound talking about this,” he said. “But I really do think we’re on to something here.”
Posts Tagged ‘Environment’
Tags: Environment, Evolution, grasshopper, tune
Grasshoppers that live in noisy urban environments are having to change their song, a study has found. Researchers suggest that high levels of background noise may affect the grasshoppers’ mating process. They say the insects are forced to increase the volume of the low-frequency sections of their call. Results of the study, by scientists from the University of Bielefeld, Germany, are published in the journal Functional Ecology. The research, which shows traffic noise could upset bow-winged grasshoppers’ (Chorthippus biguttulus) mating system, is the first of its kind, according to lead researcher Ulrike Lampe. “Effects of man-made noise on acoustic communication has only been studied with vertebrates, so far,” said Ms Lampe, a PhD student at the University of Bielefeld’s Department of Evolutionary Biology. The scientists caught 188 male bow-winged grasshoppers from noisy roadsides and quiet rural locations. According to Ms Lampe: “Bow-winged grasshoppers are a good model organism to study sexual selection because females can respond to male courtship songs with their own low-frequency acoustic signal, if they are attracted to a male song.” The grasshoppers produce their mating call by rubbing a toothed file on their hind-legs against a protruding vein that is located on their front wings. (via BBC Nature – Urban grasshoppers change their tune for females)
Tags: aircraft, Design, Environment, flight, Technology
Engineers and designers are giving commercial aircraft a makeover, in a bid to make them faster, greener and more efficient. Look up into the skies today at a passing aeroplane and the view is not that much different to the one you would have seen 60 years ago. Then and now, most airliners have two wings, a cigar-shaped fuselage and a trio of vertical and horizontal stabilizers at the tail. If it isn’t broke, the mantra has been, why fix it, particularly when your design needs to travel through the air at several hundred miles an hour packed with people. But that conservative view could soon change. Rising fuel prices, increasingly stringent pollution limits, as well as a surge in demand for air travel, mean plane designers are going back to their drawing boards. And, now, radical new shapes and engine technologies are beginning to emerge, promising the biggest shake-up in air travel since de Haviland introduced the first commercial jet airliner in 1952. Of course, it would be wrong to say nothing has changed in the last few decades, says Rich Wahls, an aerodynamicist at Nasa’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “New model airliners don’t come out every year like cars, but it’s not as if they haven’t been evolving under the skin the whole time. There’s so much more technology in there nowadays.” (via BBC – Future – Technology – Radical planes take shape)
What they’re doing on Marsden Farm isn’t organic. It’s not industrial, either. It’s a hybrid of the two, an alternative version of agriculture for the 21st century: smart, green and powerful. On this farm in Boone County, Iowa, in the heart of corn country, researchers have borrowed from both approaches, using traditional techniques and modern chemicals to get industrial yields — but without industrial consequences. If the approach works at commercial scales, and there’s good reason to think it will, it might just be an answer to modern farming’s considerable problems. “We wanted to show that small amounts of synthetic inputs are very powerful tools, but they’re tools with which you tune the system, not drive it,” said Adam Davis, a researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture. (via Big, Smart and Green: A Revolutionary Vision for Modern Farming | Wired Science | Wired.com)
Bacteria gobbled 200,000 tons of Gulf spill
Over a period of five months following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, bacteria consumed at least 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.
For a study published this week in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers analyzed an extensive data set to determine not only how much oil and gas was eaten by bacteria, but also how the characteristics of the feast changed with time.
“A significant amount of the oil and gas that was released was retained within the ocean water more than one-half mile below the sea surface, says co-author John Kessler, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester. “It appears that the hydrocarbon-eating bacteria did a good job of removing the majority of the material that was retained in these layers.”