Story About Agriculture and Environment

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Location: Bekasi, Jawa Barat, Indonesia

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Save the World Today, Go For Alternative Energy!

Alternative energy, without a doubt, is the answer to the drastic power shortage that the world experiences today. Unlike the regular power resources such as coal, uranium, and fossil fuels, this form of energy is renewable because it is usually generated from biomass, hydro power, solar and wind energy. But the good thing is that, they are non emission sources, which of course is a great help to our environment. The power generators are proven safe to use, hence there will be no worries about harmful exhaustion and toxic waste production.

Nature is priceless. Since alternative energy sources from renewable materials none of its valuable supplies will be used up and shortage is not likely to happen. This only means that a great deal of the environment's natural resources is preserved. Combustions produced by traditional power plant generators operated by fuel accelerate global warming due to the release of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the air. And if nothing is to be done, not only today's lives are compromised but also the lives of the next generation.

Oil, or the so called black gold, as a fuel is one good example of a resource that we can save by using alternative energy. Studies show that the world right now is at a point where oil production is decreasing, rendering world governments to find immediate solutions to the staggering problem. Several proponents of oil argued that the usage of alternative energy will drop off the economy if the traditional fossil fuels are to be disposed; however there are quite a few researchers who believe that the inception of alternative energy actually is beneficial to the economy. Proof to this matter is the increasing rate of companies doing research and providing alternative energy.

Indeed, it is true that where there are advantages, disadvantages come next. But with alternative energy the advantages versus the disadvantages has a considerable difference. There's more to the positive side rather than the negative ones. An estimate of 108,234 tons of waste per day is incinerated around the globe, nonetheless, with a system this large amount of waste will be converted to useful resources. It takes only 90% less energy to convert the world's waste into a power source than to generate new power supplies out of the fossil fuels. Not only is mother earth saved from destruction but also the life of the future generation is ensured. So, why wait for tomorrow if things can be done today?
(Article Source:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pesticides Cause Parkinson's Disease

( A new study just found that Parkinson's disease is linked to pesticide exposure. In fact, the study participants were almost twice as likely to have been exposed to pesticides through their work, and exposure to certain pesticides may have increased the chance of having the disease by more than three-fold. The study looked only at pesticide exposure from work environments and didn't look at pesticides used in home pest control, backyard gardening or our foods.

The study concluded that there is growing evidence for a causal relationship between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease, meaning there is growing evidence that pesticides cause Parkinson's disease. However, it's a bit odd that we need a study to tell us this because researchers regularly create Parkinson's disease in lab animals by injecting the animals with chemical pesticides.

When you understand this, the cause of the disease is rather immediately clear, although many in the medical field say that the cause is unknown. Actually, injecting animals with pesticides and other common chemicals is exactly how researchers create many of the diseases they need to test the effects of pharmaceutical drugs. How else are they going to get a hundred rats at the same time, all with Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disease. It's the result of brain degeneration, so make a mental note that pesticides literally cause your brain to degenerate. Then, while you still can, think about whether organic foods make the most sense. And consider if there are non-chemical options for home, garden and workplace pest control.

Even more disturbing, it would be extremely unlikely if you didn't have several different pesticides in your blood at this very moment. Even newborns are born with pesticides in their bodies these days, which gives them sort of a rotten shake in a world where we need fully functioning brains to survive and prosper.

Parkinson's disease appears when people have lost about 80 percent of their ability to produce dopamine, an essential brain chemical. Symptoms of the disease include shaking, tremors, poor balance and difficulty walking.

Parkinson's disease is the disease Michael J. Fox made famous, and questions that might be rolling around in many minds are: Did Michael eat organic foods or did he think the conventional stuff wasn't that bad and ate foods with pesticide residue on them? Or, did Michael ever have his home sprayed or tented for any sort of bugs, or ever live in a home that had been previously tented? And perhaps, were pesticides sprayed regularly around Michael's home, as they are around many homes and offices?

Now we know that pesticides cause our brains to degenerate. The only question is: Why are farmers still spraying them on our food and then making the claim that it's safe for consumption?

Pesticides Cause Childhood Brain Cancers

( Children living with parents who use pesticides around the home are significantly more likely to develop brain cancer than children who are not exposed to such chemicals, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Researchers matched each of 400 fathers and 250 mothers who reported having been exposed to pesticide products -- including insecticide, herbicide and fungicide -- with a non-exposed person of the same sex, age and status. All participants lived in residential areas of Florida, New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania. None of them lived in New York City. All were parents of children who had participated in the Atlantic Coast childhood brain cancer study.

The scientists further evaluated each participant's level of exposure over the two years prior to the birth of their child by means of a phone interview featuring more detailed questions about home or work use of pesticides. Most "exposed" participants were exposed to pesticides through home use -- such as garden or lawn care -- rather than professionally.

The researchers found that children whose parents had been exposed to pesticides were significantly more likely to develop brain cancers, including astrocytomas and primitive neuroectodermal tumors. The risk of astrocytoma was especially increased by the use of herbicides.

Among "exposed" fathers, those who wore protective clothing or who washed immediately after pesticide use were significantly less likely to have children who developed brain cancer.

Prior studies have linked prenatal pesticide exposure to brain cancer, and the chemicals have also been linked to cancer in a number of animal studies. Researchers do not know exactly how the chemicals lead to cancer, but many pesticides are known to exhibit mutagenic, hormone mimicking or immune-hampering effects. The developing bodies of fetuses and children are especially susceptible to these effects.

Brain cancer is the second most common childhood cancer, after leukemia

Anthurium Harvesting And Pre-Harvest Handling Methods

Maximum possible care is to be taken at the harvesting and post-harvest storage of the flowers to increase their vase life.

A. Harvesting of Anthurium
Anthuriums are generally harvested when the spadix is almost fully developed. Flowers picked too early wilt quickly. Development of true flowers on spadix is also used as a criterion for determining the harvest stage. In Hawaii, growers normally harvest anthurium when one-third of the true flowers on spadix are fully developed.

B. Packaging of Anthurium
The flower stems are placed in lukewarm water (38°C) after the harvest and allowed to stand overnight prior to shipment. They should properly be graded according to the colour, stem length and sizes of spathes and spadices. There are several methods for packing cut flowers. In recent past, methods such as packing the flowers in plastic bags before placing in cartons or dipping the spadix in melted paraffin to reduce moisture loss are also very popular. The flower stems can also be placed in flasks containing water which are packed in moist boxes and soft protective material is put in between spathe and spadix. Foam plastic supports are provided in the box and flowers are secured carefully with tape. The most commonly used box sizes for packing anthurium flowers are 21.6 x 50.8 x 91.4 cm or 27.9 x 43.2 x 101.6 cm which can accommodate at least 10 dozen flowers. Lining of cartons with polythene sheet and moist paper insulation are necessary to maintain proper humidity as well as to prevent injuries to the flowers.

C. Storage of Anthurium
Anthuriums can easily be stored at 13°C for 2 to 3 weeks and will last 2-4 weeks in an arrangement. Exposure of flowers to temperatures below 13°C causes the red flowers to turn blue; dark red flowers being most susceptible. Individual flowers shows a great difference in response to temperature, some not turning blue even at 5°centigrades. If refrigeration facilities are not available, storage in 2-10% O2 (oxygen) can be used advantageously at ambient temperatures of 24-250 centigrade.
D. Vase-life of Anthurium
The keeping quality of the flowers increases as they develop and is maximum when 3/4th of the length of the spadix has changed its colour. Large and medium sized flowers keep better than small and miniature ones. The flowers kept best at 560 F or 13.00 centigrades. Pre-cooling or short refrigeration period does not extend the total life of the flowers. Similarly, the degree of shade under which the plants are grown will not affect flower keeping quality. Vase-life is the longest in the flowers, cut if they are when the spadix is almost completely white. When flowers are cut at this stage the flowers remain fresh for 21.5 and 25.2 days on an average in water and summer respectively.

Various commercial preservatives (floral life, ever bloom, rose life), and chemicals and beverages (sodium benzoate, benzoic acid, glucose, sodium hypochlorite, hydrochloric acid, 7-Up etc.) can be used to prolong the shelf-life of anthurium flowers.. A pre-shipping dip of flower stems it} solutions of 2.25% 7-Up (a carbonated beverage), 500 ppm benzoic acid or 7.3 ppm of sodium hypochlorite remarkably extends the vase-life of flowers. Treatment with benzyladenine reduces the respiration rate of flowers and imparts some tolerance to chilling and extends the saleable period. Dipping of flower stems for 10-60 minutes in 4 mm silver nitrate solution (within 12 hours of harvest) also extends the vase-life by 40- 60%. The use of wax for extending post-harvest vase-life of flowers has also been suggested. FMC-819 carnanba -based wax is most effective in increasing the vase-life from 18 days 36 days and imparting a high gloss.
Various commercial preservatives (floral life, ever bloom, rose life), and chemicals and beverages (sodium benzoate, benzoic acid, glucose, sodium hypochlorite, hydrochloric acid, 7-Up etc.) can be used to prolong the shelf-life of anthurium flowers.. A pre-shipping dip of flower stems it} solutions of 2.25% 7-Up (a carbonated beverage), 500 ppm benzoic acid or 7.3 ppm of sodium hypochlorite remarkably extends the vase-life of flowers.

Treatment with benzyladenine reduces the respiration rate of flowers and imparts some tolerance to chilling and extends the saleable period. Dipping of flower stems for 10-60 minutes in 4 mm silver nitrate solution (within 12 hours of harvest) also extends the vase-life by 40- 60%. The use of wax for extending post-harvest vase-life of flowers has also been suggested. FMC-819 carnanba -based wax is most effective in increasing the vase-life from 18 days 36 days and imparting a high gloss (

Anthurium Diseases and Pests Attack

A large number of diseases and pests attack the plants damaging flower production and quality of the flowers.

A. Diseases
Fungi, bacteria and viruses sometimes attack the plants producing serious diseases.

1. Fungal Diseases in Anthurium
The major fungi attacking plants were colletotrichum, Pythium spp.

a. Anthracnose
Collectotrichum gleosporioides is the causal organism of this disease. It is the most damaging diseases of anthuriums. Also known as spadix rot or black nose, it is a problem in high rainfall areas. Spadices are damaged and flowers become unsuitable for commercial purpose.

Control of Anthracnose

Spray Maneb @ 2lb/l00 gal and Dodine or Dyrene @ 1 Ib/l00 gal gives good control of the disease. It is suggested that application should be made at 2 -week intef'7al and a sticker should be used. Certain cultivars like Marian seefurth, Uniwai and Manoa Mist are reported to be resistant to the pathogen.

b. Root rot
Pythium splendens is the causal organism of this disease. It attacks-the root of Anthurium andreanum, and often causes serious losses, especially during rainy season.
Control of Root rot in anthuriums
The disease can be controlled by a soil application of PCNB (quintozene) @ 80 ounce 150 gal water.

c. Leaf spot in Anthurium
Septaria anthurium and S. minima are the causal organisms for the leaf spot disease. A non-parasitic leaf spotting may occur under unfavourable cultural conditions.

Control of leaf spot in anthurium
The disease can be controlled by sprays of Carbileen (Zineb) @ 30 g 1100 Iitres of water, repeated at interval of 2-3 weeks. Among the several fungicides tested in vitro under different conditions of temperature and humidity, Oxyquinoline sulphate gives best control of S. minima.

2. Bacterial disease
Xanthomonas compestris poses a considerable threat to the commercial anthurium growers because of systemic infection.

Control of bacterial disease
Strict sanitation measures, the removal of affected leaves and spraying with Streptomycin sulphite or Oxytetracycline. are recommended. The bacterium appears to be resistant to copper based preparations, and those can also be phytotoxic to anthuriums.

3. Viral disease in Anthurium
Mosaic and malformation of leaves and spathes are observed in different anthurium cultivars in commercial nurseries. Up to 20% infection can be observed in pink and red cultivars and 94% in white cultivars. The virus could be transmitted by Bemisia tabaci and possibly also by grafting a piece of infected leaf onto the stem.

B. Pests attacking Anthurium
Though pests are not a problem in anthurium cultivation, insects like aphids, scales, thrips and spider mites are found to attack the plants and cause considerable damage.

1. Aphids
These insects suck (Aphids) the plant's sap, causing yellowing and distortion of leaves and poor growth. They secrete a sticky sugary substance called 'honey dew' upon which a black mould often grows. The mould not only looks very unsightly but interferes with the leaves as well.
Control aphids attack
Systemic insecticides containing Dimethioate and malathion (0.2%) effectively controls the aphids. A formulation containing Pyrethrum extract gives complete control of Myzus circumflexus on A. scherzerianum plants in the green house, without phytotoxicity.

2. Scale insects
Scale insects infest stems and leaves, suck the sap and weaken the plants.

Control of scale insects in Anthurium
Wiping the insect off the plants with a cotton-wool swab soaked in methylated spirit or spray with 0.2% malathion work well against these insects.

3. Spider mites
These minute mites cause yellowish mottling of the leaves which may become brown and shrivel. A fine white web spun on the underside of leaves is another sign.

Control of spider mites in Anthurium
Spraying of affected plants with 0.2% malathion or kelthane (8 ml in 10 I of water) is found to be very effective to control the mites.

4. Thrips
Thrips suck the sap from leaves and cause a mottled effect on foliage and flowers.

Control of Thrips in Anthurium
The control measures are similar to those of aphids and scale insects.

Different Anthurium Cultivation Practices

The various cultivation practices for growing anthurium are discussed here.

A. Greenhouse Cultivation
Construction of suitable greenhouse to provide ideal growing environment including light, temperature, etc., is very essential for commercial production of anthuriums. Flower productivity is ideal in a house with whitewash on the roof, roof sprayers and crop sprinklers and movable external screens.

B. Potting and planting
Potting is an essential operation for anthuriums. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, when cuttings bears fully developed roots and shoots or offshoots are ready for division, they should be moved into pots. Care should be taken that pots are of suitable sizes. Potting may be done fairly firmly when using loam-based composts, firming with fingers, but peat-based composts should be only lightly firmed and watered to settle the compost. Peat compost should also never be allowed to dry.

If planting is to be done in beds, plants should properly be spaced. Four plant densities (5.2, 7, 8.7 and 10.5 plants/m2 of bed) were compared by Steen for growing Anthurium andreanum. It has been recorded that the number of flowers/ m2 increased with plant number, this effect being greater in the first year than in the second. However, the productivity per plant declines with increasing plant density. Leaving side shoots on the plants will have a positive effect on the number of flowers/m2, but this effect becomes less pronounced as plant density increased. When all side shoots are removed, plant density does not influence flower diameter but when they were retained increasing density will have a slightly adverse effect on diameter.

Plants should carefully be examined to decide when repotting is due. The new pots should not be very much larger than the previous ones. Young plants need repotting every year, while the adult once every 2-3 years.
C. Manuring and fertilization
Anthuriums need adequate amount of nutrients for their proper growth and flowering. Among the major elements, application of nitrogen potassium and calcium markedly improvc the yield and quality of flowers. Deficiencies of these nutrients, on the other hand, adversely affect the plant growth and developments. Insufficient levels of nitrogen and potassium are associated with lower flower yield, reduces stem length and smaller flowers. Leaf necrosis and dead root tips are observed with deficiency of potassium. Application of 126 mg N/12.5 litre container per week is suggested for Anthurium andreanum. An increase in potassium from mg/container per week to 225 mg improves both flower yield and quality, but a further increase may have a slightly negative effect. The best results can be obtained with an annual dressing of 29 g N + 30 g K2O/m2. At optimum nutrient levels, mature leaves containes 2% nitrogen and 3% potassium. Nitrogen also has a beneficial effect on the quality of potted A. scherzerianum, the best result being obtained with a medium dose of 21. 6 mg N/pot/week. Application of 22.5 mg K/pot/week gives better quality plants.

Adequate level of calcium is also necessary for obtaining optimum yield and to stabilize spathe colour. Deficiency of calcium resulted in colour break down, instability of the middle lamella and cell separation and collapse in proximal section of the lobe and spathe. The problem is more serious at lower pH of the substrate (3.0 to 4.0). The optimum calcium content in the lobe and leaf tissues have been found to be 0.16 and 0.54%, respectively.

Plants having the highest fresh and dry weights, the largest number of flowers, the longest stems and the best quality flowers with no leaf chlorosis are observed with 4 g CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) and no boron. However, the longest spadix and flower fresh weight are obtained with 4 g Caco3 and 2.0 mg boron.
D. Watering of Anthurium
Anthuriums require generous watering. However, the right amount of water and proper intervals between successive application of water are determined by several factors. Micro- climate in the greenhouse, season, size of the plant in relation to the diameter of the pot, stage of plant growth, type of container and the compost in which the plant is being grown are important. Plentiful watering should be done during spring and summer, and in winter, when the plants are resting the surface soil is to be allowed to dry out between successive watering.

The quality of water also has considerable influence on plant growth and development. The cut-flower yield of A. andreanum declines progressively as the salinity of the water used for glass house irrigation increases. Water containing! sodium chloride (common salt) is particularly detrimental lowers the production by 40-46 per cent.

Anthurium Vegetative propagation

Division and cutting are the commonly used methods involved in vegetative propagation.

1. Division
Anthurium can easily be propagated by division of off- shoots with aerial roots from the main stem. Plants obtained through this method flower early in comparison with those from cuttings or other methods. Cultivars belonging to A. scherzerianum generally produce more number of offshoots as compared to those of A. andreanum.

2. Cutting
Anthuriums are also propagated by terminal cuttings rooted under intermittent mist. Mist accelerates rooting and enhances the survival. Plant age has been found to have no marked effect on rooting but more leaves are produced by rooted cuttings taken from the older plants. Seradix 1, a hormone preparation give the best rooting while reduction of the transpiration area has no effect on root formation or top growth.
C. Micro-propagation
With tissue culture techniques, anthuriums are multiplied very rapidly and flower production has been reported to be higher than those from seedlings. A modified Murashige and Skoog's medium (MS) has been suggested by several workers. The growth of callus tissue from adult A. andreanum plants is found to be the best in such medium. Both A. andreanum and A. scherzerianum explants produces many shoots when cultivated 'in vitro' in the presence of Benzyladenine (BA) and 2,4- D. However, yeast extract stimulates shoot growth of A. scherzerianum but restricts it in A. andreanum. Pot plants A. scherzerianum could be obtained more quickly than those of A. andreanum owing to the former's rapid callus formation and shoot growth.

Regeneration of leaf explants been found be better than other plant parts. A method of propagation that can be used in commercial practice has been suggested. After callus has formed on pieces of leaf tissue it is transferred to a solid medium. When the callus starts growth it is transferred to a liquid medium in Erlenmeyer flask which is placed on a shaking machine rotating at 120 revolutions a minute.
All the tested cultivars in this medium grew well but there will be marked differences in growth and vigour among them is noticed. To obtain plantlets the callus clumps are transferred again to a solid medium in the dark, where shoots are formed, these shoots are later rooted in light. Multiplication by this method is far more rapid than with the use of only solid agar medium. Disinfection of the tissues for 20 minutes results in less damage than disinfection for 30 minutes.

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