Archive for the ‘research’ tag
Here’s our digest of the most interesting stuff for your weekend reading pleasure. Enjoy!
- New research on how plants grow. (via @BatesNursery)
- Success can mean lying to yourself.
- New PLANET safety training you should check out.
- How much we make and what we spend it on.
- Why entrepreneurs (and other creative types) like to hang out together.
- Above: Roger Phelps on how a set of chaps saved his life.
While spending 12 hours in the blistering heat might not sound like the smartest idea, it turns out that spending more time outdoors improves the way our brains work.
A research team led by Marc Berman of the University of Michigan gave participants a standard memory and attention test then assigned some of them to walk through downtown Ann Arbor, and others to walk through the impressive campus arboretum. The participants were tested again upon their return, and beyond a doubt the group that took the nature walk scored significantly better.
Here’s what he original study, published in 2008, found:
In sum, we have shown that simple and brief interactions with nature can produce marked increases in cognitive control. To consider the availability of nature as merely an amenity fails to recognize the vital importance of nature in effective cognitive functioning.
Researchers repeated a similar study this year to see if exposure to greenspace would influence subjects with major clinical depression.
The study prompts several conclusions. The first, not really tied to cities, is that nature walks might provide a cost-efficient supplement to traditional treatments for major depression. As the researchers point out, the mood priming did work, meaning study participants set out on their journey thinking about a negative personal event. The fact that their positive affect improved despite this sour state shows the cognitive power of park land.
The second conclusion, more germane for our purposes, is that “incorporating nearby nature into urban environments may counteract” some of the cognitive strains placed on the brain by the city, the authors write. Recent research has suggested economic and crime benefits of urban greenery; now advocates can legitimately add “public health” to their list of arguments.
So, in conclusion: The urban and managed landscape doesn’t just look good – it makes you smarter and feel better about yourself.
Here’s our round-up of cool stuff from the web. Check it out and have a great weekend. (And call your dad!)
One of the best parts of my jobs is that I get to travel around and hang out with people who are a lot smarter than I am.
To that end, I spent a few days last week in Chicago with the team at BASF for its biannual Agriculture Media Summit. Every two years, the company brings together a bunch of reporters who cover on potatoes, corn, soybeans and the like, and puts them in a room with its top researchers and executives to showcase the latest projects and other cool stuff they’re working on.
This year, the theme was sustainability, and how farmers all around the world are going to need to feed about nine billion mouths by 2050 using pretty much the same amount of land they have now (and likely a lot less water).
While it has little to do with growing grass or trees, the research does shine a light onto some pretty cool stuff that the company is up to. Here’s a quick round-up of the top three highlights.
AgBalance sustainability measurement too
BASF has developed a tool to help bring some tangible numbers to the question of how sustainable a business or operation is.
It’s AgBalance system, which was developed 15 years ago in the automotive coatings business, examines a couple hundred data points (like soil quality, nutrient balance, biodiversity, rates of worker pay, commodity prices, etc.) to measure sustainability.
The same model has been applied in more than 400 other industries including, in late 2011, agriculture, where it calculated a 40 percent increase in the sustainability of Iowa corn production during a 10 year period.
Jan Buberl, head of the company’s specialty products department, says the T&O market can expect a similar tool in about two years.
Canola oil case study
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. BASF sees an opportunity in helping canola farmers produce these heart-healthy oils, which can then be used to fortify other foods.
The only problem is that canola oil doesn’t contain those chemicals. So the BASF R&D team was able to identify and move genes that do produce these oils into canola seed. In the fall of last year, BASF partnered with Cargill to bring these genetically modified seeds to market by 2020.
Investment in new business
Much of what chemical companies bring to market is, well, chemistry. Through the discovery of new active ingredients, formulations and other technologies, they try to stay ahead of new diseases, pests and other environmental factors.
But that takes money and people. Worldwide, 10,000 BASF employees work in R&D, and the company spends 23 of its annual research budget on new businesses and new segments it’s not already active in.
Last year, BASF posted global revenue of €73.5 billion. By 2020, the company plans to bring in €115 billion, and says a quarter of that will come from products and services that are less than 10 years old.
Here’s our weekly collection of fun and educational stuff from the web. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!
- It’s official – warmest spring on record.
- 5 great summer water movies.
- Canada’s pesticide ban means Toronto’s parks ‘going to seed.’
- New research on small business from Bank of America.
- Why you should drink more coffee.
- Above: Manufacturers focus on faster mowers for pros and homeowners alike. (via @OPEInstitute)
I got to do one of my favorite things as editor at L&L today.
When we run surveys, we typically offer an incentive – we’ve given away iPads, digital cameras and a trip to Hawaii. But we run a lot of surveys, so we often use gift cards. So every few weeks I walk down to the bank near our office and pick up a few Visa gift cards.
We just finished up another research project, this one about lawn care product use, and I got to pick up cards at $75 a pop for 10 random respondents.
- Michael Rush, Rush Lawn Care, Searcy, Ark.
- Ricki Linyard, Lawn Doctor, Olive Branch, Miss.
- Mark Landa, Boulevard Flower Gardens, South Chesterfield, Va.
- Erv Denig, Lawn & Turf Landscaping, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
- Robb Bashaw, Rancho del Escudo, Waller, Texas
- Chris Senske, Senske Lawn & Tree Care, Kennewick,Wash.
- Rick Lisanti, Growing Concern, Monroe Township, N.J.
- Craig Pickett, J.H. Plantscapes, Cypress, Texas
- Rafael Rico, Hometown Pest Control, Delray Beach, Fla.
- Mark Ruppert, Ruppert & Company Property Services, Bloomfield, Conn.
So, congratulations to our winners. Your cards are on their way. And to everyone else out there, thank you for taking the time to fill out our surveys. We know you’re busy, and your responses really help us as we put together the magazine each month.
Here’s our weekly digest of interesting stuff from the internet. Have a great weekend. (And call your mom.)
Here’s our weekly digest of fun links from around the web. Hope you like them!
- An edible urban forest is planned for Seattle.
- You can help shape the next version of LEED. (via @waterguru2)
- Nearly half of Americans now own smartphones. More than 60% of people with household income of more than $75,000 do.
- On sick days and dedication. (via @martygrunder)
- A new app to track your water footprint.
- Woman smoking meth burns down Florida’s oldest tree.
- Above: A record player that makes music from trees.
Some well-illustrated research from a late 2011 NFIB survey on small business owner sentiment and plans.
Key findings include:
- 3 out of 5 owners said uncertainty – both economic and political – impedes growth.
- Three-quarters of owners want to add employees in the next five years. Sixty percent want to add between on and 9 people.
- More than half of respondents – 53% – said lack of demand from consumers is a key factor impeding growth.
- Oddly, 52% of owners said they expect “little to no change” in their marketing plans.
Check out our January cover story on the new consumer, and what you can do to better understand – and sell to – them in the next year.