Sep 21, 2012

How to Harvest & Store Seeds by Texas Ready Seed Bank - YouTube

Published on Sep 21, 2012 by LDSPrepper

Today Lucinda teaches us how to harvest and store seeds. She discusses:
1. Which fruit from your plants produces the best harvestable seeds.
2. Why seed are like batteries
3. Where the term "heirloom" seed originated and what it means.
4. The wrong and right way to save Tomato seeds.
5. What does it mean if seeds are floating when you go to store them.
6. The best way to harvest different varieties of seeds
7. The best source to learn how to save 100 different types of seeds.
8. If you should you vacuum pack your seeds.
9. Which plants in your garden only produce seeds every two years.
10. If you should store your seeds in a freezer.

- Seed Banks & Books:

- Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners:

Sep 20, 2012

University of Illinois' Ag/Bio Engineering Department Ranked Number One - Farm Progress

Published on: Sep 20, 2012

The undergraduate program in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. "Best Colleges 2013" placed Illinois in a tie with Purdue University for the top spot, followed by Iowa State University.

U.S. News ranks undergraduate programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology based solely on the judgments of deans and senior faculty from participating colleges. U.S. News also asks for nominations of the best programs in specialty areas, such as agricultural engineering; those receiving the most mentions are ranked in the publication.
University of Illinois' Ag/Bio Engineering Department Ranked Number One

K.C. Ting has been department head of ABE since 2004. "We are in very good company," Ting says. "We are among the best departments in the nation in our discipline, so being recognized as number one by U.S. News is an honor."

ABE at Illinois has been ranked in one of the top two spots for the last seven years, including a four-year stint as number one, and Ting acknowledges that "says something" about the department.

"We try to give our students the best education and the most diverse opportunities we're able to offer. We are very comprehensive," he adds. "Our teaching is student-centered, and many of our engineering courses are project-based. There are excellent opportunities for international study abroad, and we bring exchange students into our student body to provide those kinds of interactions. We do all we can to give our students a complete educational package, not just courses you take to get credit hours and graduate."

The department is part of two colleges on the Urbana-Champaign campus, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the College of Engineering.

"The strength of ACES and CoE is a tremendous asset to our department," Ting notes. "It helps significantly to be a part of two top colleges on our campus."

"We have a clear vision of what we want to do, and we follow through with that," he concluded. "We deliver. If the ranking follows, we're very happy, but our real goal is simply to be a great department."

Sep 19, 2012

Top 10 Tips for Storing Seeds

Created 2011-05-16

1. Think dry and cool no matter where you store seed. Humidity and warmth shorten a seed’s shelf life.
2. Keep seed packets in plastic food storage bags, plastic film canisters, Mason jars with tight-fitting lids, or glass canisters with gasketed lids.
3. The refrigerator is generally the best place to store seeds.
4. Keep your seed-storage containers well away from the freezer section of your refrigerator.
5. To keep seeds dry, wrap 2 heaping tablespoons of powdered milk in 4 layers of facial tissue, then put the milk packet inside the storage container with the seed packets. Or add a packet of silica gel. Replace every 6 months.
6. Store each year’s seeds together and date them. Because most seeds last about 3 years, you’ll know at a glance which container of seeds might be past its prime when planting season comes.
7. When you’re ready to plant, remove seed containers from the refrigerator and keep them closed until the seeds warm to room temperature. Otherwise, moisture in the air will condense on the seeds, causing them to clump together.
8. If you’re gathering and saving seeds from your own plants, spread the seeds on newspaper and let them air dry for about a week. Write seed names on the newspaper so there’s no mix-up. Pack the air-dried seeds in small paper packets or envelopes, and label with plant name, date, and other pertinent information. Remember, if you want to save your own seeds, you’ll need to plant open-pollinated varieties. They’ll come back true; hybrids won’t.
9. Or dry saved seeds on paper towels. They’ll stick to the towels when dry, so roll them up right in the towel to store them. When you’re ready to plant, just tear off bits of the towel, one seed at a time, and plant seed and towel right in the soil.
10. Even if you’re organized, methodical, and careful about storing seeds, accept the fact that some seeds just won’t germinate the following year. Home gardeners will find that stored sweet corn and parsnip seeds, in particular, have low germination rates, and other seeds will only remain viable for a year or two.
Source URL:

Results of first animal feeding trial on GM maize & Roundup

By Anne Sewell
Sep 19, 2012

This is the first study of its kind, it is peer-reviewed, and will be published in the American journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology. The results are not reassuring.

The first animal feeding trial, set up to study the lifetime effects of exposure to NK603 Roundup tolerant GM maize, and also to Roundup, the world's best-selling herbicide and weedkiller, has been completed.
The research was lead by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, Molecular Biologist at Caen University and first author of the research being discussed.

Professor Séralini was in charge of risk assessment for two government commissions and has advised the European Commission on the use of GMO’s commercially. He is the President of the Scientific Board at Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRII-GEN).


Additional contributors at a telepress conference held on Wednesday, include Dr. Michael Antoniou – Professor in Molecular Genetics, Kings College, London School of Medicine. Dr. Antoniou has over 40 peer-reviewed publications of original work.
Dr. Antoniou was also involved in the GMO Myths & Truths Report, as reported on Digital Journal.
Patrick Holden, Founder and Director for the Sustainable Food Trust. SFT has an interest in comparing different systems of agriculture and their impact on human and environmental health.
An audio file of the telepress conference will be added later today.
According to the study, levels currently considered "safe", can cause mammary tumors and multiple organ damage (kidney and liver), and can also lead to premature death in laboratory animals.


Trial Methodology:

The trial studied the long-term effects of exposure to NK603 GM corn and Roundup, individually and combined, on the health of rats over two years, their entire lifetime.
The study was carried out using two hundred rats fed a standard balanced diet. They were divided into ten groups each containing ten males and ten females.
žThree groups tested the effect of NK603 alone. Each group had a different proportion of NK603 in their feed starting at 11%, then 22% and finally 33% of their total diet.
žThree groups tested the effect of NK603, which had been sprayed with Roundup in the field at the same proportions of 11%, 22 % and 33% of their total diet.
Three groups tested the effect of Roundup alone, administered via their drinking water at three different concentrations with one control group.
žThe lowest level corresponded to contamination found in some tap water.
žThe intermediate level corresponded to the maximum level permitted in the US in GM feed
žThe highest level was half the strength of Roundup when diluted for use in agriculture.
žThe control group was fed a diet containing 33% of non-GM corn and plain drinking water.
The researchers took blood and urine samples for analysis monthly for the first three months and then every three months and at the end of the trial studied the rats’ principal organs.


Researchers found that even consuming low levels of NK603 and Roundup, separately or combined, can cause serious health problems in rats, that only became apparent when they were older than 90 days. The first tumor was observed after 120 days, but the majority were only detected after 18 months.
The outcome of this research immediately calls into question the current regulatory process, used to license all new industrial chemicals, pesticides and other "novel crops" since the Second World War. Currently all tests on GM food crops have been approved as "safe" on the basis of a 90-day feeding study in mammals.
In this study, the first large tumor was only observed four months into the trial, and most tumors were not even detected until after 18 months.

This research highlights the need for more research and long-term studies to evaluate the safety of all GM food crops, which are currently grown on almost 10% of the world's arable land.

Copies of the research can be obtained on request from CRIIGEN and from Food and Chemical Toxicology.

The full report, as published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, can be read here.

Read more:

Biochar is an investment in soil - Iowa State Daily: News

Biochar Fuels Soil
Full Article:
Eric Debner, | Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

While no meteorologist or agronomist can accurately predict which years will be "dry years," scientists and farmers can now take steps to protect themselves against plant dehydration during a drought. Biochar, a substance known for its ability to retain water and enrich soil fertility, is on the mind of researchers at Iowa State.

Created from a process called pyrolysis, biochar exhibits many unique properties that could provide aid to combat future dry spells, the most noteworthy being water retention. In a lab study conducted at Iowa State, researchers discovered biochar increased the soil’s water retention by 15 percent.

“This year, [water retention is] huge because of the drought,” said David Laird, professor of agronomy. “If you can improve the soil quality and make it so the soil holds water better, then it will be more robust in a dry year.”

This revolutionary remedy is biochar, named for its similarity to charcoal.

“The word 'charcoal' is generally used when talking about a fuel, something you can burn,” Laird said. “'Biochar' is a name we give it when we put it into the soil.”

Laird explained that a feedstock or raw material, such as corn stover, is heated to extreme temperatures where it breaks down into bio-oil and noncondensable gases with biochar as a byproduct.

Bernardo del Campo, graduate research assistant in mechanical engineering who is studying biochar, said specific types of biochar fit well with specific soils. The type of feedstock, process conditions and peak temperatures the material is exposed to during pyrolysis influences the biochar’s properties and qualities.

Corn stover produces a very fine, almost dust-like biochar, while red oak produces a biochar that is bulkier, jagged and takes up more surface area. Biochar is also similar to fertilizer — too much or the wrong type of char for the wrong soil will kill the plants.

“It’s going to be more like a soil amendment,” del Campo said. “That amendment should balance or complement some properties of the soil. The best biochar will match with your soil.”

In agricultural plots where the soil is less than optimal, biochar can also help restore fertility and crop yields.

“We do see a benefit from biochar on poor quality soils, degraded soils and sandy soils that have low water holding capacities,” Laird said. “It’s not so much that it can raise the yields on the best soils, so much as it can increase the yields on the worst soils.”

Biochar makes the soil better which improves agricultural productivity. Laird said it helps the soil retain nutrients otherwise lost through leaching because the char acts as a filtering material.

“It retains the nutrients in the soil where they can be used by the next crop instead of leaching down into the river,” Laird said. “It’s not new; what is new is the realization that biochar could be used as a co-product of bioenergy production so that we could simultaneously be producing renewable energy and a char that could be returned to the soil that could build soil quality.”