termite detection through recognizing its sound

Engineering researcher Associate Professor Adam Osseiran has developed an environmental monitoring and protection device that uses wireless sensor networks to detect several species of pests.

Each wireless sensor is the size of a postage stamp and can recognize the chewing sound of termites. A series of detectors are placed around the property to be protected, and early detection before infestation is possible, preventing major damage.

When a sound is identified, the device sends a text message or an email with the location, time and date, and the information is also recorded locally on a USB memory stick.

The WiSPr (Wireless Smart Probe) has a 100 per cent success rate and can detect termites in places that are inaccessible for traditional detection methods.

Once pests are detected, a small amount of pesticide is introduced that is taken back to the nest to destroy it. This avoids the need for large scale use of pesticides for prevention or eradication.

The device has been used successfully for over a year on hundreds of buildings in Western Australia.

Associate professor Osseiran says the first device was developed in 2008 in response to attacks by borers. An early version of the technology was used for two years by the Department of Agriculture and Food to detect the European House Borers.

Termites are estimated to cost home-owners up to $1 billion each year.

interesting company to watch – AlgaeCytes

AlgaeCytes is focused on developing and commercialising the next generation of bioactive ingredients in particular Omege 3 oils and proteins for the nutraceutical and the pharmaceutical markets.

AlgaeCytes has developed processess to produce algae products based on carefully selecting appropriate, proprietary algae strains and adapting them naturally for high lipid content and particularly for Omegs 3 oil EPA.

AlgaeCytes process has the capability of utilising phosphate and nitrate nutrients as feedstocks which are commonly found in recovered process waters from the food and drinks companies.  This in turn enables these companies to potentially meet EU and USA legislation for water quality discharge.  The ability to utilise the nutrients in this way could convert this cost centre in most industries into a revenue generating centre.

The Company also has algal strains capable of producing high levels of carbohydrates particulary polysaccharides as gelling and/or bulking agents for the food market.

AlgaeCytes works closely with its customers and industrial partners to develop process components to accelerate the production of high value products from algae and gain marketing access within key market sectors.

$100 million hydroponic cucumber farm

A $100 million hydroponic cucumber farm is set to create 350 ongoing jobs in the gold mining town of Stawell, in western Victoria.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

 

Audio: Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Murray Emerson describes plans for a $100 million cucumber farm in Stawell. (ABC Rural)

Northern Grampians Shire Council today announced a Sydney-based company’s plans to build a 45 hectare glass house just east of the township.

Mayor Murray Emerson said the project would be built in phases, over four years.

“Construction will begin in June this year,” he said.

“It will take around 12 months to put the infrastructure in place, and on the shortest day of 2017 they will begin planting.

“It’s gigantic for our community and to say we’re excited is an understatement.”

“We’ve done a lot of research with the people in the near vicinity and we haven’t found anybody yet that’s not happy with the development.”

Murray Emerson, Northern Grampians Shire Mayor

Cr Emerson said the developer’s name was ‘Nectar Farms Pty Ltd’, which was registered in Australia on January 12 this year, but details of the company remain a mystery.

“They have experience in hydroponics businesses.

“What they do away from our community, I’m not sure.”

Although the set up will be suitable for other vegetables, Cr Emerson said cucumbers would be the focus.

“Every night there will be a couple of B-double trucks full of cucumbers, once they get them up and growing, heading off to Melbourne,” he said.

At this stage no taxpayer dollars have been allocated to the development, but Cr Emerson said the Victorian Government was considering a request.

“It’s being totally financed by the Nectare Farms company,” he said.

“We’ve had some discussions with the State Government about putting in some funding and I think they would be foolish if they didn’t.

“People will be looking to the State Government to support 350 jobs.”

Water ‘not a problem’: Northern Grampians Shire Mayor

Farmers across western Victoria have struggled through two years of severe rainfall deficiencies, but Cr Emerson said water would not be an issue for the cucumber operation.

“We have the Wimmera Mallee pipeline actually in the paddock, right where it’s being built,” he said.

“They’ll actually recycle some of that water back into their system, which will take the pressure off the amount of water they’ve got to purchase.”

Communities that rely on the Wimmera Mallee pipeline, and depleted reservoirs that supply it, are already debating about where water should be directed.

Cr Emerson said the cucumber operation would not need a large allocation.

“I can’t tell you what the allocation is at the moment, we’ve only just been guaranteed by Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water that water will be made available to them,” he said.

“I understand they don’t need a lot of water, but they do need some.”

Cucumber company to buy up houses, farm blocks

Western Victoria’s Wimmera region might be renowned for its grain, sheep and cattle industries but, other than in family vegetable gardens, cucumbers have not been a feature.

Stawell retains an active gold mining industry and the community is divided over a company’s proposal to build two open-cut mines on Big Hill, overlooking the town.

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The cucumber farm will be built just a few kilometres from existing mining operations, on and adjacent to private farm lifestyle blocks.

Nectar Farms has bought some farmers out and Cr Emerson said more sales would be needed over the next four years but he is not expecting community opposition.

“We’ve done a lot of research with the people in the near vicinity and we haven’t found anybody yet that’s not happy with the development,” he said.

“[Noise pollution and truck traffic] has been discussed by the company with the people who will be in the vicinity; we don’t believe that there will be any problem with it at all.”

Application of aquaponics concept for omega-3 oil production

An interesting company has made a model aquasystem for producing the omega-3 oil by cultivating algae in the plant part of the equation. the following is some discussion —

Algae can take many forms, including seaweed (macro-algae) and kelp. For oil production micro-algae are used similar to those that commonly grow in aquariums, lakes, rivers and ponds. Micro-algae are efficient biological factories that consume carbon dioxide and nutrients and convert these into natural oils through photosynthesis.

Most petroleum products are composed of decomposed algae and burning of petroleum products releases the CO2 sequestered by these algae hundreds of millions of years ago.

Cultivating algae for oil production absorbs CO2 and any release of CO2 from consumption of algal products, including omega-3 oils, releases only the CO2 absorbed in the first place, resulting in a balanced “carbon neutral” effect. Thus algal oil production and consumption does not add to greenhouse gasses.

The production of algal omega-3 oils conventionally requires the growth of algae in open ponds or races spread across large areas of land that are exposed to natural light to induce photosynthesis, and fertilised with inorganic nutrients. However, open pond algal culture risks contamination from bird and bat droppings and water runoff, and relying on natural light limits growth to sunny days and large areas of land are required. Consequently, large-scale production of algae for omega-3 production is generally limited to arid regions remote from populations centres and markets to ensure high levels of sunlight and low rainfall. Most facilities producing algal oil use marine strains of algae that require a source of sea water or salt must be added to fresh water, either of which create the potential for environmental contamination by salt.

Bioreactors

Bioreactors are increasingly used to cultivate algae to maximise both cellular growth and accumulation of oils. The cells are harvested and treated to burst the cells to release the oil, followed by separation of the oil, water and biomass fractions. The separated oil with high concentrations of DHA and EPA is removed for processing and analysis, the water may be recirculated, and the biomass, which is high in protein and residual omega-3 oils, may be dried and used as fish or animal feed high in protein and omega-3s.

Bioreactors require a source of sunlight or artificial lighting, carbon dioxide, and fertiliser to efficiently grow algae. Fish continuously produce effluent including CO2 that unless removed from the tanks will become toxic to the fish. Therefore fish tank effluent can be directed into algal bioreactors to provide the fertiliser and the CO2 required for growth of algae.