repurposed: agricultural waste in construction materials

posted June 13, 2018

As the interest in environmental sustainability continues to grow, many are curious as to how to reuse or re-imagine materials and substances that may be considered agricultural or construction waste. This interest may be partly fueled by pending shortages and rising input prices.

For example, insulation companies have developed alternative insulation materials from agricultural waste products. Additionally, researchers are looking for sustainable alternatives to concrete. A viable alternative to concrete derived from the root of mushrooms and fungi, along with other materials, may soon be worth considering. In fact, there are many ways in which agricultural and food waste can be remade and kept out of landfills.

Using sustainable alternatives often will potentially reduce the construction costs for materials. New home construction using agricultural waste materials is becoming more common. Sustainable materials are often appreciated by homeowners who may be looking to make their own homes environmentally friendly.

Using Agricultural Waste as Construction Material

Construction materials can be composed of many types of waste and be beneficial in resource management. There are predictions that use of organic waste materials can help reduce levels of waste. Building materials may be made up of waste from maize, potatoes and bananas.

The construction industry relies heavily on raw materials. Re-imagining the use of organic waste streams can offer lower-cost materials to the industry. There have been advances that can make it possible to create mushroom bricks and derive insulation from waste potatoes. Agricultural waste products that can be used within construction materials include:

  • Potato peels- This organic product can be used in the manufacturing of an acoustic absorbent insulating material that is water repellent, fire resistant and low-weight.
  • Banana leaves and fruit- The high strength fiber can be used in the making of rugged textiles.
  • Peanut shells- Shells can be a raw materials that may be incorporated into the production of materials such as low-cost partition boards that are both moisture resistant and flame retardant.

These waste products are often discarded. It has been reported that food waste amounting to 60 million tons goes into landfills and could be used in the manufacturing of building materials.

Advanced Research and Comparisons Continue

According to one study, traditional concrete has been compared to self-compacting concrete made in part with agro-waste. This agro-waste concrete was composed of materials including tobacco waste, husk ash, cork, oyster shell and groundnut shell. This concrete mixture performed better in terms of workability compared to their counterparts. Such materials can be used as a fine aggregate replacement to as much as 20 percent.

When it came to mortar, adding bagasse ash appeared to increase resistance to chloride penetration and including cork resulted in improved cyclic performance and better thermal resistance. It appears that more research on the use of agro-waste continues on many different fronts.

Planning for a Sustainable Future with Agro-waste Construction Materials

The construction industry may be able to successfully deal with shortages in resources and increased prices for materials by looking at the potential of agro-waste construction products. Such products may offer practical solutions when it comes to long-lasting construction materials that are gentle on the environment and in some cases, such as with concrete, help reduce global carbon dioxide emissions when used as an alternative.

Everyone, from construction companies, agricultural interests, investors and homeowners should all be aware of sustainable agricultural waste products. These products, when used in various ways, construction being one, can not only help the environment, but potentially also the pocketbook.

This is a guest post by Gred Geilman President and CEO of South Bay Residential, manhattan beach CA 90266. Find him online, on twitter, on linkedIn, Facebook and Yelp


wright-locke farm’s speaker series july 19th 2017 – molly anderson

posted July 18, 2017

WLF_speaker_series_anderson_7-19_print (1).png

As part of their 2017 speaker series, Wright-Locke Farm are hosting their second monthly speaker, Molly Anderson, on July 19th. Molly is a professor of food studies at Middlebury College, a member of the Network Design Team of Food Solutions in New England and is co-author of  A New England Food Vision 2060: Healthy Food for All, Sustainable Farming and Fishing, Thriving Communities, which explores that potential futures of the food system in New England which can support a high quality of life for everybody by supplying food that can nourish a social, environmental and economic landscape that works for everybody.

Location: Wright – Locke Farm, 82 Ridge Street, Winchester, MA

Time: 7.30 PM

Other Details: Cost is free however the organisers request that you email them to reserve a seat on kkneeland@wlfarm.org

You can find the full paper A New England Food Vision 2060 HERE


growing true blue indigo dye in a closed loop system

posted July 12, 2017

2875444353_78beaff4c6_b.jpg

As part of their True Blue project, Fibershed, have recently released a report on the processes and practices involved in the making of blue indigo dye.  They explain the idea of a closed-loop ideal indigo dye production system which “moves from soil to dye to textiles and back to soil.” The basis for the report is multifaceted, including academic literature reviews, books on natural dyeing and personal interviews with skilled artisan dyers including  Rowland Ricketts, Jane Palmer, and Kori Hargreaves.

(more…)


watch: island earth

posted July 11, 2017

To feed all the humans on the planet, we are going to have to grow as much food in the next 35 years as we have grown since the beginning of civilization.

Shocked when he found out that chemical companies were using Hawaii as the testing ground for their GMO crops, director Cyrus Sutton decided to take action. This film documents the three year journey that he embarked on. Island Earth tells the stories of Malia Chun, Cliff Kapono, and Dustin Barca – three Hawaiians seeking to make Hawaii a beacon of hope for an uncertain future.  Their journey takes us from GMO corn fields to traditional loi patches in order to uncover the modern truths and ancient values and wisdom that will help us to halt our unsustainable depletion of the earth’s natural resources and to discover how we can feed the world without destroying the planet.

(more…)


be a delegate at slow food nations

posted February 21, 2017

unnamed-11

Delegate Registration for Slow Food Nations is now open. Before the Slow Food Festival opens to the general public on July 15 in Denver, CO, 400 delegates from around the world will meet for a summit of delegates on July 14. Delegates meet with each other, connect, discuss the needs in their countries, and “shape the future of Slow Food.” Delegate tickets are $200 for Slow Food members and $25o for others, but scholarships might be available based on need.

Conference leaders write, “We are currently seeking funds for scholarships to assist limited resource individuals to attend as delegates who represent youth, First Nations, advocates of color, and the Ark of Taste. For more information, please email sfninfo@slowfoodusa.org.”


“ditching NAFTA” may hurt american farmers, but which ones?

posted February 17, 2017

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515380213/515638250

NPR’s The Salt spoke to American farmers growing products (strawberries) in and outsourcing their products (milk, powdered) to Mexico. And no doubt, these industrial farmers will either pay more to import and export their crops and could lose potential markets. Given, however, that NAFTA’s effect on small and medium farms in this country– which we rarely mentioned in the discussion– has been largely detrimental, and NAFTA’s effect on small farmers in Mexico has been unequivocally disastrous, we wonder how this conversation could be extended to address small-scale sustainable agriculture.  Greenhorns, policy buffs, what do you think? Surely, it is not always true that what is bad for industrialized ag is good for sustainable ag, but….

What do you think, Greenhorns, specifically our economics buffs out there, what will it mean for young agrarians and small farms if the US “ditches NAFTA?”


tomorrow on greenhorns radio! jeff conan on the devasting effects of palm oil production

posted January 23, 2017

oil_palm_plantation_in_cigudeg-05
Palm oil plantation in Indonesia. Photo by Archbad Robin Taim.

Tomorrow January 25th on the Heritage Radio Network, Greenhorns radio talks to Jeff Conan, Senior Forest Campains Manager at Friends of the Earth, a global activist network that campaigns for international environmental and climate justice. Much of Conan’s work focusses on the toxic legacy of palm oil production in Gautemala. Maybe you already knew that the production of this oil was rapidly spurring deforestation of some of the world’s most important rain forests, but were you also aware that the byproducts of its processing have a long legacy of polluting water sources as well?

As Conan writes in a September article on Medium.com, “One year ago, a series of spills dumped toxic palm oil effluent into the Pasión River where it runs through the municipality of Sayaxché in Guatemala’s Peten region. The spills were the latest in a long history of abuses associated with Guatemala’s palm oil industry — (more…)


dogfish: a shark for breakfast?

posted January 8, 2017

_e8a6920-56_custom-6790f99939a4f7d91e5a6623a95ff0407f3d1818-s800-c85
A shark called Dogfish. Photo by Ben de la Cruz/NPR.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/508538671/508668113

Currently one of the most plentiful fished fish on the East Coast is actually a shark called dogfish, and yet most Americans have hardly even heard of it. So where are the catches going? Turns out, 90% of the fish Americans eat is imported, whereas 99% of dogfish is exported other places.

 


radio interview with draft-horse vegetable farmer

posted January 3, 2017

img_4080-61_custom-feb827c2a6420203670a2b2127d7dc89595fd1d7-s1200-c85
Farmer David Fisher with his draft horses. Photo by David Charles/NPR.

The GH radio is still on break, so if you need to satiate your weekly hunger for radio stories about farming, let me suggest this great piece by NPR’s the Salt about Natural Roots Farm, a CSA farm in western Massachusetts that uses smart systems, ecological growing techniques, and draft power to create self-reliant farm systems that rely as little on fossil fuels as possible.

Though short, the interview with farmers David Fisher and Anna Maclay touches on the discontent with consumer society that drives many of us into the fields, the idea of right work, and the emotional tolls that perfectionism can have on a farmer’s relationships. In fact, we can’t help but wish that the interview could somehow open up to explore these topics in more depth.

Oh, and breaking news! NPR reports that small-scale vegetable farmers are perfection-seeking idealists.