Bamboo shoots up in Eastern Cape

first_imgBamboo cultivation and its use in productsranging from furniture to biofuel andbaskets, is set to take off in the EasternCape province.(Image: Wikimedia)Emily van RijswijckIt is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and has a multiplicity of uses, from the manufacture of biofuel to decor accessories, furniture and building materials.A miracle plant? No, just the ordinary bamboo, a plant usually associated with Asia and giant pandas, but one which also proves to be well adapted to the dryer conditions of the Eastern Cape.And it is these qualities – and the potential to alleviate poverty in South Africa’s poorest province – which have convinced the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to embark on pilot projects for the cultivation and production of bamboo and its related products.Already a one hectare plot at St Albans near Port Elizabeth has been planted with the evergreen grass, with another two, larger projects of five hectares each taking shape in Centani in the former Transkei and at Ndakana near Stutterheim.The three projects are funded by the ECDC for the benefit of the Eastern Cape community and the plants will be harvested according to the market that is available at that time, confirmed Ken Bern, regional head of the East London-based ECDC.“We are hoping to be able to harvest the first shoots for hand weaving in two years’ time,” he said. For hardwood products used in the making of floorboards or furniture, the bamboo shoots would have to be matured to at least five years.Economically viable within five yearsBamboo can grow at an incredible rate. In temperate conditions it shoots up at three to 10 centimetres per day; in ideal conditions by as much as 100 centimetres per day. One hectare can yield anything from 20 to 40 tons of bamboo and can be economically viable within five years of planting.But it is its incredible adaptability to different, often poor soil conditions and its numerous applications which makes it such an attractive crop, especially for the poorer rural communities of the Eastern Cape.Clumps of these plants can be found around the province, showing that it can grow here successfully, said Pelo Gabaraane, MD of SA Bamboo, the company which has been commissioned by the ECDC to manage the Centani and Ndakana pilots.“The plant is regenerative and fast growing, and provides tremendous potential to fight poverty in the province.”Gabaraane and his colleague Nkosinathi William are project managers at the Centani and Ndakana plantations.Five people have already been employed at each plot and will actively be running the project, with SA Bamboo overseeing operations. For the moment the projects will remain small as this provides the ideal conditions for training the community in the aspects of cultivation and processing, said Gabaraane.“For the moment, the projects are not economically viable. It is simply useful as a teaching mechanism,” he confirmed.The bamboo organisation is already in negotiations with the Department of Economic Development to secure funds for the eventual extension of the project in Ndakana to 300 hectares to achieve greater economic viability, said Gabaraane.At least 300 people will be able to find direct employment at a project of this scale. In the meantime, while the bamboo shoots are small, the land will also be used for intercropping with the planting of vegetables between the bamboo rows.Downstream productsThe pilot projects will focus on passing on skills training for the supply of raw materials in three bamboo related products: basket weaving; furniture and building materials; and biofuels.At the moment South African bamboo furniture producers import all their raw materials from oversees. The Eastern Cape community has the potential to eventually tap into this lucrative market once they start to produce their own bamboo crops on large a scale, Gabaraane believes.“It is important to realise that there are two aspects to the pilot projects, both of which provides skill transfer and employment opportunities,” he said. ”These are the actual cultivating of the product and the downstream processing of the product. We want to make sure that the projects bring about real, viable economic benefits to the larger Eastern Cape community in the long term.”The basket weaving project gets going in January 2012 in Ndakana, with SA Bamboo sourcing mature plants from around the province to train five local women in the equipment and weaving processes used. These products will be available in curio shops around the area.“We believe the community has to be involved in the project from the beginning, from the actual planning phases all the way to the growing and processing of the raw product.”A big stalk of grass Genetically speaking, bamboo is just a very big, sturdy stalk of grass: a stalk of grass with amazing properties. It is said to be able to absorb 30% more carbon than trees and has the ability to grow rapidly in diverse conditions.While pine plantations will only be able to yield a harvest in 20 years, producers of bamboo will be able to harvest their bamboo in no more than five years.In South Africa, the Indian species Bambusa balcooa has been completely naturalised and has been around for over 300 years. As a hardwood for furniture and building related applications, it has no equal.South Africa only has one indigenous bamboo species, the hardy Thamnocalamus tessellatus or berg bamboo. This plant grows in its typical clumps all around the colder Drakensberg region in the south-east of the country.last_img read more

South African firefighters well-received in Canada

first_img11 August 2015South African firefighting crews have received high praise from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) for their excellent work ethic.The South Africans, from Working on Fire, are in the north American country as part of international wildland firefighting teams where they are fighting multiple fires in Alberta. Hundreds of fires have swept across the western part of the country this season.They have been in Canada since 21 July, and according to spokesman Linton Rensburg, they are expected to be there until 21 August.The 48 members of the crew are participants in the South African Working on Fire programme and are in Canada as part of a resource-sharing arrangement between its firefighting agencies and South Africa.They were initially deployed to Edmonton, where they helped with the suppression of wildland fires in the forests. Most of these fires have largely been contained, and the crews are busy with mopping up operations. One crew has started a second stint in Alberta, while the second has been deployed to assist in British Columbia.Following their first two weeks in Canada, CIFFC released a positive Crew Performance Report lauding the South Africans for their physical fitness, productivity, health and safety, and mopping up operations.High standards“When we arrived here in Canada we knew already that the South African training standards and qualifications were verified against the Canadian, USA, Mexico, Australian and New Zealand systems and our training was way up there, being compatible with international standards,” said Trevor Wilson, the liaison officer of the South African crews.According to Working on Fire managing director Llewellyn Pillay, the organisation has a long history of training young men and women to implement a range of integrated fire management products and services.“Over the years we have trained thousands to implement products and services such as fire prevention, fire awareness, fire detection and fire suppression within the land owner community in Africa, Chile and Australia,” he said.“Our upbeat and always happy South African crews with their song and dance have been well received in Canada and they have set positive examples to the local and international crews on how to build strong morale and teamwork.“These local and international crews have begun to mimic this and are, like the South Africans, now also attending team meetings instead of being scattered resources as in the past.”This was the first time that such an exercise had been undertaken in Canada and it would pave the way for future co-operation between the two countries, he added.Source: Working on Firelast_img read more

Manure management strategies

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Reducing manure volumes produced throughout the year is certainly worth considering when building a manure management plan. For example, what goes into your manure pit other than manure, urine and wash water? Additionally, it is important to note waste water can be from several sources, including:1. Leaking drinkers and water lines,2. Pigs wasting water when they drink; and,3. Rain water entering the pit.Leaking drinkers and water lines: One way to determine how many gallons go into the pit on a daily basis is to take a water meter reading when there are no pigs in the barn or no washing activities planned. Check the reading after a 24-hours. According to Adam Hocker’s 2014 Pork Congress presentation, Brenneman Pork in Iowa had records from 22 finishing barns that were leaking on average 4,000 gallons of water per week. That would be over 200,000 gallons of wasted water in a 2,400 head barn per year. Kevin Elder with the Ohio Department of Agriculture said, “Additional research has shown the diluted manure moves easier to subsurface tile. If manure has at least 4% solids and even better 8% solids it moves much less to drainage tile.” Pigs wasting water when they drinkResearch has shown there are differences in the amount of water wasted from drinkers of varying styles. As such, it is recommended to check the flow rate of your existing drinkers. Pigs only consume water at a given rate, dependent upon the size of pig, and higher flow rates lead to more wasted water. Research shows that water flow for a nursery should not exceed 45 seconds to fill a 16-ounce container. Comparatively, the flow rate for a grow finish should not exceed 30 seconds to fill a 16-ounce container. Water line pressure should be 20 psi; however, it is important to make sure you have adequate flow rates throughout the barn. If drinker height is adjustable be sure to adjust as pigs get bigger. In general, nipple height should be at pig shoulder level, or slightly above. Rain water entering the pitEvaluate outside landscaping (settling ground), especially around pump out ports to determine if surface water is entering the pit. There are barns that have pump-out ports that have separated, or cracked, from the pit walls and have allowed roof water to enter the pits. Be sure rainwater is diverted away from the building, and make any necessary repairs to pump-out ports. There should be no ponding water around the building after rainfall events. Developing an emergency planDevelop an emergency plan in the event field conditions do not allow for manure application when the pit is almost full. While options vary on location, below are several conditions to consider that might allow for you to partially pump down your pit:1. A neighbor with a dairy lagoon that is not full and would accept hog manure.2. A custom manure applicator with frac tanks or tankers for emergency storage.3. An older swine facility that is currently empty.4. A municipality sewage treatment plant that would take manure.5. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District Office to discuss local options: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/SWC/SearchLocalSWCD.aspx6. Constructing emergency storage as a last resort (This has been done before and is cheaper than paying fines and having bad publicity), contact local SWCD or ODA-Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting.For additional information on best manure strategies, please visit https://ohleap.org/last_img read more

Facebook Snags the Guy Who Built Google’s Chrome OS

first_imgThe battle between Facebook and Google just got even hotter with the news that the social network has hired Matthew Papakipos, the man who started and lead both the Google Chrome OS project and the Chrome WebGL GPU hardware project for hardware-accelerated graphics. Both projects “are in good shape,” Papakipos said in a Tweet this morning, so he’s leaving to join the project team at Facebook.If the Chrome Operating System is going to be a major part of Google’s plans for the future, and its strategy for staving off Facebook’s potential domination of the internet experience for a billion people, then this hire is likely bad news for Google. Facebook, on the other hand, is putting together quite the team.Along with the hire of Papakipos, Facebook also announced today that it has hired Jocelyn Goldfein, a former VP and GM of virtualization giant VMware’s desktop business unit. A few press outlets, including us, were just sent a small email from Facebook HQ about the hires minutes ago. Late last night Papakipos Tweeted, “I love that in this busy crazy over-connected world i can still keep a secret among friends.”Assembling a Powerful TeamPut these two new people together with Firefox co-founders Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt, brought to Facebook almost three years ago and Paul Buchheit and Bret Taylor, the creators of Gmail, Adsense and Friendfeed, acquired just under one year ago, and what do you get? A monster team with the experience to create a compelling, fully wrap-around internet experience for hundreds of millions of users.Big, hot companies make big, hot hires and are generally deep in talent, but for Facebook to have nabbed the guy leading Chrome OS and the WebGL hardware acceleration program is a pretty big coup. Tags:#news#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img marshall kirkpatrick Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts last_img read more

The Evolution of Display Connectors

first_imgDisplay connections are evolving to keep up with new video technology and data rates. See what lies ahead for the future.Chances are, you have a shoebox filled with a bunch of obsolete connectors collecting dust in your garage, or worse, your parents’ house. Each of these cables and display connectors can only fulfill one specific connection. You can’t mix a VGA cable with a tri-colored composite cord and expect it to work; the connections look and act differently from each other. This was the norm for years.Today, the trend is moving toward fewer display connectors that handle more. This will be great news for your parents, who will bug you a little less about clearing out those ratty shoeboxes. They’ll still bug you, just about other stuff.Connectors now are able to handle multiple signal formats, so they can carry video, audio, and data information while often being able to charge the connected device. This’ll be familiar to anyone who’s got a smartphone, and in fact, this connectivity trend is being driven by consumer devices like advanced phones and tablets. Compare this to a decade ago, where connections were driven by advances and needs of professional equipment.The interfaces through which we connect our devices are getting smaller, denser, and faster, much like the phones themselves, now sporting fewer ports. The interfaces can make decisions about display resolutions, audio formats, Ethernet connectivity, and can receive and send control signals, so you don’t have to sweat the details. All of these interfaces use Extended Display Identification Data which allows your video card to configure itself automatically. This is what makes your display rotate to landscape mode when you plug in your phone to display content on a TV. What’s more, wireless connections are also right around the corner.Image: Apple Thunderbolt ConnectorsThunderbolt is a great example of this technology, as is Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) and DockPort, a USB connection over DisplayPort. MHL, a smaller version of HDMI carrying signal over Micro USB, can be used for a wide variety of applications, including using the phone as a game controller to replace standard hand-held ones. MHL can also be used in a phone-docking scenario to operate as a full-fledged computer. Other models that turn phones into tablets exist as well.Certain types of DisplayPort utilizing USB 3.0 have built-in chips that enable the interface to configure automatically to the connected system. The cables are also symmetrical so it doesn’t matter which way you plug it in. You’ve seen this on more modern iPhone chargers and Apple’s display connector.A Look Into The FutureAll this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who owns one or more of these devices. The problem is the looming inevitability of 4k and later, 8k footage, which will put an intense strain on these interfaces.4k video will become standard on the next generations of smart phones, so this issue is about to come to a head. Models released by LG, Sony and Samsung will all utilize playback through MHL and will come equipped with 13 megapixel cameras. It’s not just about servicing a greater array of pixels, though. Any developments in refresh rates, dynamic range, and color gamut will affect how much information needs to be pushed through these multi-purpose connectors.Let’s take a look at the two most common connectors, HDMI and DisplayPort, to see how they fare. HDMI can carry 4k video at 60p but is limited to 8-bit color only, according to the HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 specs. At higher formats, we’ll encounter speed problems in the actual connector portion of the signal chain.DisplayPort 1.2 is robust enough to handle 10-bit color with a 4k signal at 60p, running at a data rate of 21.6 Gb/s. DisplayPort 1.3, announced in September this year, will carry a maximum data rate of 32.4 Gb/s, utilizing the device’s four separate lanes running at 8.1 Gb/s each. It’s almost twice as fast as HDMI.Image: Displayport CableHelping DisplayPort achieve this is something called Display Stream Compression. As the name suggests, the technology condenses information packets coming to the monitor from the video card. The standard would support an 8k stream, although at a lower color space of 4:2:0. Once the video signal itself is taken care of, there would still be a fair amount of room to pass other devices such as Thunderbolt, USB and Ethernet connectivity through the connection.This gives us some ammunition when confronted with claims that a manufacturer’s products are “UltraHD ready.” Be sure to ask which interface is making the connection happen, as there are large differences between the current states of HDMI and DisplayPort technology. Many TVs contain HDMI but they may be an older specification that cannot carry as robust a signal.High dynamic range is something we’ll be looking for aside from just having large image support. As more entertainment gets streamed from what are essentially computers tuned to RGB color spaces, the throughput to display these images also demands more. It’s increasingly important to develop the specs properly to accommodate the highest quality possible.last_img read more

Summer of discontent: water crisis looms in Gujarat

first_imgSummer has just set in but Gujarat is already facing a water shortage. And it will only worsen in the next two months as the State’s main water sources like the Narmada dam, and dozens of other dams and reservoirs, are going dry. Ironically, Gujarat is faced with the crisis despite copious rains last monsoon.The government has assured that there will be no shortage of drinking water in any corner of the State. Narmada water was stopped for irrigation from March 15. Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Parbat Patel recently told the Assembly that the State has made adequate arrangements to ensure drinking water is available in every part of the State. But the picture is far from that. A crisis is already evident in villages, where water is now supplied once or twice a week.Despite the State’s claimed preparations, approximately 4,238 out of 18,000 villages in Gujarat are facing a severe crisis as their sources have either gone dry or are about to go dry. “More than 50% of the hand pumps in tribal pockets are not functional. Small tribal villages from north to central Gujarat are the worst hit,” said Congress spokesman Manish Doshi.Currently, the water level in the State’s main water body, the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada, is at about 105 metres, roughly less than 50% of the dam’s normal average level. Moreover, the spread of water in the reservoir, which was across 214 km during the monsoon, has now shrunk to less than 90 km, and will shrink further in the summer. Now, the State is forced to use the dead stock of water from the dam.The Narmada is the main source of water for over 10,000 villages and 165 towns and cities in over a dozen districts in the State, notably in the water-starved and drought-prone Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat regions. Moreover, in all other 203 dams and reservoirs across the State, the water level is less than 40%, and will dry up rapidly as summer peaks. A look at the region-wise figures of water storage available in the State’s dams: 15 dams in north Gujarat have 714.95 mcm (million cubic metres) storage, which is 37.15%. In 138 dams and water bodies in Saurashtra, only 656.97 mcm water is stored, which is just 25.93 %.On January 22, the State government announced that water in the Narmada dam had reached its lowest level in the last 13 years. So, from mid-March, Narmada water will not be supplied for irrigation. The State has now deployed State Reserved Police (SRP) personnel along the canals to stop farmers from taking water illegally from the Narmada canals.After stopping water for irrigation, the outflow of water has come down from around 9,000 cusecs early this week to around 4,900 cusecs now, with 4,300 cusecs for drinking purposes.Worse ahead“More than 50% villages in my area are facing water shortage and it will become more acute in April and May,” said Congress legislator Naushad Solanki from the Dasada constituency in Saurashtra. “Earlier, the government said no shortage in drinking water because the Narmada dam water has been reserved for drinking purposes and irrigation supply was curtailed. However, now, even drinking water supply is inadequate in villages,” said Sagar Rabari of the Gujarat Farmers’ Union, a civil society group fighting for farmers’ rights.Authorities have started rationalised supply to cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara in order to supply more water to smaller towns and villages. “In Ahmedabad, which receives 1,420 million litres per day (MLD) from the Narmada and Kadana dams, among other resources, water supply is expected to be cut by 200 MLD,” a senior official in the State government said. South Gujarat has 27% less water compared to last year so there is an urgent need to rationalise use of water in Surat, which gets the highest water supply per capita, he added.The crisis seems to have its genesis upstream. According to State government officials, due to a weak monsoon in the Narmada catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat could only get 4.71 million acre feet (maft) of water, which is just 45% of the sanctioned supply of 9 maft is awarded by the Narmada Tribunal to the State.last_img read more