The Precision Agriculture Revolution

“Thousands of years ago, agriculture began as a highly site-specific activity. The first farmers were gardeners who nurtured individual plants, and they sought out the microclimates and patches of soil that favored those plants. But as farmers acquired scientific knowledge and mechanical expertise, they enlarged their plots, using standardized approaches—plowing the soil, spreading animal manure as fertilizer, rotating the crops from year to year—to boost crop yields. Over the years, they developed better methods of preparing the soil and protecting plants from insects and, eventually, machines to reduce the labor required. Starting in the nineteenth century, scientists invented chemical pesticides and used newly discovered genetic principles to select for more productive plants. Even though these methods maximized overall productivity, they led some areas within fields to underperform. Nonetheless, yields rose to once-unimaginable levels: for some crops, they increased tenfold from the nineteenth century to the present.  

Today, however, the trend toward ever more uniform practices is starting to reverse, thanks to what is known as ‘precision agriculture.’ Taking advantage of information technology, farmers can now collect precise data about their fields and use that knowledge to customize how they cultivate each square foot.”

Tags: technologyfood production, agriculture, agribusiness, spatial, GPS.

Source: www.foreignaffairs.com

How Suburban Are Big American Cities?

“What, exactly, is a city? Technically, cities are legal designations that, under state laws, have specific public powers and functions. But many of the largest American cities — especially in the South and West — don’t feel like cities, at least not in the high-rise-and-subways, ‘Sesame Street’ sense. Large swaths of many big cities are residential neighborhoods of single-family homes, as car-dependent as any suburb.

Cities like Austin and Fort Worth in Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina, are big and growing quickly, but largely suburban. According to Census Bureau data released Thursday, the population of the country’s biggest cities (the 34 with at least 500,000 residents) grew 0.99 percent in 2014 — versus 0.88 percent for all metropolitan areas and 0.75 percent for the U.S. overall. But city growth isn’t the same as urban growth. Three cities of the largest 10 are more suburban than urban, based on our analysis of how people describe the neighborhoods where they live.”

Tagsurban, suburbs, housingsprawlplanning, density,.

Source: fivethirtyeight.com

With Booze and Tobacco Taboo, Utah Leads Nation in Candy Eating

“More than 60 percent of Utah’s residents are Mormons, who typically abstain from alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. With those vices frowned upon, candy is an acceptable treat.  Hispanics like Hershey’s Cookies ’n Creme bars in disproportionate numbers, and Minnesotan buy six-packs of Hershey bars at higher rates than any other Americans, particularly in the summer (think s’mores).”

Tags: food distribution, place, food, religion, ethnicity.

Source: www.bloomberg.com

This report brings up three interesting tidbits about candy consumption in the United States, but this is also a good article to discuss how businesses should take geography and demographic statistics seriously when crafting their marketing strategies.  

World’s largest hotel coming to Mecca

Abraj Kudai, a complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is set to become the world’s largest hotel by room count when it opens in 2017.

Source: www.cnn.com

Las Vegas currently has the four of the five largest hotels in the world; people flock to the Nevada desert in droves for the gambling and nightlife.  Mecca has a very distinct draw that pulls tourists in from all our the world.  As a sacred pilgrimage site, the tourism industry thrives and needs an immense infrastructure to handle the high volume of visitors that come for the Hajj.

   

Tagstourism, Islam, Saudi Arabiaculture, religion, Middle East.

Customizable Maps of Mexico

“Find worksheets about Geography of Mexico.  Hundreds of worksheets–millions of combinations.”

Source: www.worksheetworks.com

One of the problems with so many outline maps for classroom use is that, depending on your lesson plan, you might want it labeled, showing surrounding countries or in color…but maybe not.  This site let’s you customize these simple maps that are perfect for the K-12 classroom (and yes, they have maps for all regions of the world).  


Tags: Mexico, K12, map, map archives

Plate Tectonics and the Formation of Central America and the Caribbean

This animation is made from a time series of maps reconstructing the movements of continental crust or blocks, as South America pulled away from North America, starting 170 million years ago. Note that South America is still clinging to Africa at the beginning of the series.

Source: www.youtube.com

The land bridge connecting North and South America is hardly permanent (on a geological time scale that is).  This video is an animated version of the still maps from this article.  

Tags: Mexico, tectonicsphysical, video, Middle America.

Utahns, Mainers and Wyomingites: The ultimate guide to what to call people from each state

“For most states, you’re safe adding an –n, and maybe a few other letters, to the state’s name – a la Coloradans, Nebraskans and Californians. For three states, Wyoming, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, the correct method is to add an –ite. For a handful of states in the northeast, the style is to add an ‘r’ – New Yorker, Vermonter, Mainer, Marylander, Connecticuter and Rhode Islander.”

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Having lived in New England for 6 years now, I still haven’t found a polite term to refer to people from Massachusetts.