Archive for April, 2013

Two interesting sources for soil data and maps

Many biophysical modeling efforts require soil data. There are (at least) two interesting sources that provide such information.

The first one is, an initiative which seeks to create a new digital soil map of the world, applying state-of-the-art soil mapping technologies.

The second one is the European Soil Portal of the Joint Research Center of the European Commission. The European Soil Portal provides access to a very rich compilation of soil related information, among them datasets, soil maps and a map viewing application. The great thing about this portal is that it not only focuses on Europe, but also covers other parts of the planet, like for example Africa.

[Many thanks to Thordis for pointing me to the European Soil Portal]


Losses in the food chain – from field to household consumption

At the website of GRID-Arendal, Hugo Ahlenius presents a graph which shows the proportion of food energy produced on the fields actually arrives at the consumers: Of 4600 kcal produced only 2000 kcal are actually consumed. The remaining 2600 kcal are lost during harvest, distribution and in particular through the conversion to meat and dairy (1200 kcal).

Losses in the food chain

Losses in the food chain

Presenting responses to the environmental food crisis, a report by the UNEP elaborates more on the role of dietary change.

Elsevier takes over Mendeley – reasons to leave now

10/04/2013 2 comments

Two days ago it was announced that Elsevier has bought the reference manager and academic social network Mendeley.

Luis J. Villanueva explains why this should be a reason to move away from Mendeley.

For example:

Elsevier has been denounced by editorial boards, libraries, thousands of researchers, and many other groups for their greedy behavior over content that is not generated by them. They bundle titles, forcing libraries to buy access to more than what they want. MIT has opted out of this at a premium. The company also was caught doing some shady business:

“[…] Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and looked like peer reviewed medical journals, but did not disclose sponsorship, the company has admitted.” – The Scientist

Elsevier was among the companies that supported the draconian SOPA, until it became too hot to handle. As a reference, check the full MIT fact sheet on Elsevier. Basically, they oppose open access, squeeze the budget of libraries, and make an obscene profit from our work. A former developer, that moved to PeerJ, has written an interesting post on the matter.

Luckily, alternatives are available, for example the free and open source software Zotero.

Global Banana Expert Workshop starts today

Today (actually, in these minutes) starts the Global Banana Expert Workshop, which for the next four days brings together more than 40 banana experts from advanced research institutions and leading banana producing countries. The experts will work in multidisciplinary groups to work on the priorization of production constraints and options for international research in bananas and plantains. They will estimate yield gaps and estimate parameters for the later use in impact assessment models.

The event is co-hosted by NARO, Bioversity International and IITA. It takes place in Kampala, Uganda and is part of the ongoing priority setting exercise of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (CRP RTB). What makes this event special, is the continued involvement of the online community. Throughout the workshop, outcomes will be posted on an eForum and comments from the community will be fed back into the discussions.

2012 Global Food Policy Report

The International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) has just released its 2012 Global Food Policy Report.

Watch the introductory video: