17 Jan

Better, Healthier Cotton

first_imgBreeding cotton varieties with resistance to root-knot nematodes and better cotton fiber quality are at the forefront of Peng Chee’s research at the University of Georgia.The UGA Tifton-based cotton breeder has been working on host-plant resistance to root-knot nematodes for 10 years. Chee has made progress in understanding the inheritance of resistance and developed tools for incorporating nematode resistance genes from the natural cotton breeding stocks into new cotton varieties. Nematode resistance“Our lab seeks to develop DNA markers for the resistance genes that will allow breeders to keep track of these genes in breeding populations without having to traditionally screen for individual plants that are resistant or susceptible” said Chee, an agronomist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Using DNA markers to select resistant plants is much quicker than traditional screening using nematode inoculation, a method Chee calls “very tedious, time consuming and expensive.”Using the traditional screening method, it can take approximately two months to discover if a plant is resistant or susceptible to nematodes, he said. “But with DNA testing, a conclusion can be made in a matter of hours regarding if a seed has the resistance genes or not. The seed does not even need to be planted,” Chee said.Research on host-plant resistance to nematodes is important because the microscopic worms can severely affect cotton crops. The nematodes damage the plant’s root system, which prevents the plant from getting the proper amount of water and nutrients. Root-knot nematodes thrive in sandy soils, which are prevalent in Georgia. About 70 percent of Georgia’s cotton fields are infested with this parasitic nematode.“Nematodes can impact cotton production in years when it’s really dry because they inhibit the ability of the cotton plants to utilize what little water is available in the soil during times of drought. They also cause similar damage in really wet years, like last year when cotton plants were in stress from poor fertility due to fertilizer leaching,” Chee said. Root-knot nematode infection also has a “synergistic effect” with the fungal disease Fusarium wilt, he said. Severe outbreaks of the disease were observed in a number of Georgia counties last year.Chee also noted there aren’t many economical options to controlling nematodes, especially since the nematicide aldicarb was recently removed from the market. Nematode resistant cotton cultivars offer growers a cost effective means to manage this pest.Fiber qualityIn addition to host-plant resistance, Chee’s research in the UGA Molecular Cotton Breeding Lab also focuses on genes that influence fiber quality in cotton. Chee believes fiber quality improvement is important for the U.S. cotton industry in order to compete with other cotton producing countries and the synthetic fiber industry.“The U.S. cotton industry has changed in the last 20 years from when cotton was used domestically. Today, most cotton is exported,” Chee said. “To stay competitive in the global cotton market, we need to produce cotton with better fiber quality than what’s currently in the market. Better cotton quality means a better price for producers and thus better quality products for consumers.” One of the main goals of Chee’s lab is to explore wild cotton varieties to identify fiber quality genes currently not in the cotton germplasm and breeding them into cultivated cotton varieties adapted for Georgia. Limited cotton stocks were brought into the U.S. when cotton first became a domestic crop, he said. “Many potentially useful genes for fiber quality got left behind in the wild gene pool. I believe that cotton breeding stocks with a broad genetic base is the key to answers for future challenges in cotton production while maintaining and improving our long-term competitiveness in the international fiber and textile market,” Chee said. For more information about the research conducted in the UGA Molecular Cotton Breeding Laboratory, see www.nespal.org/peng_lab.last_img read more

29 Sep

TIAA-CREF moves into Europe with UCITS fund launch

first_imgThe ESG bond fund will focus on US holdings, aiming to achieve an exposure to holdings with a “measurable” social or environmental outcome, she added.O’Brien said the ESG bond fund was likely to be of interest to those seeking exposure to impact investing.Asked whether the new fund launches marked an attempt by TIAA-CREF to further establish itself in the European market, she noted that the company was already known to a number of large asset owners through its agricultural funds. She declined to state the company’s expectations for investments over the first year of each fund’s lifetime, saying only that “strong” demand was expected. TIAA-CREF is set to grow its European institutional presence following the launch of three new UCITS fund strategies.Managed by Nuveen Investments, a subsidiary of the US financial services company, the funds will invest in bonds and global equity with an environmental, social and governance (ESG) focus, and give investors access to emerging market debt.Amy Muska O’Brien, head of TIAA-CREF’s responsible investment team, said the ESG funds would focus on companies deemed “best in class” under its screening procedures.Speaking about the ESG equity strategy, O’Brien said: “The strategy has been offered in the US for some time, and the same [portfolio management] team will be running the strategy as well.”last_img read more

17 Sep

Ronaldo Seals Four-year Deal with Juventus

first_img“Real Madrid has conquered my heart, and that of my family, and that is why more than ever I want to say thank you. I’m leaving but this shirt, this crest and the Santiago Bernabeu will continue to always feel as my own wherever I am.”Ronaldo ends a glorious trophy-laden spell in the Spanish capital, having picked up 16 titles including no less than three FIFA Club World Cups, four UEFA Champions Leagues – including the last three – and two league titles. He was also named as the world’s best men’s player on six occasions while representing Los Blancos.Additionally, the 33-year-old racked up an incredible scoring record with Real, setting in stone a tally of 451 goals in 438 games.“Real Madrid would like to express its gratitude to a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football,” the Spanish club said in an official statement.“Beyond the conquered titles, the trophies achieved and the triumphs achieved in the playing fields during these nine years, Cristiano Ronaldo has been an example of dedication, work, responsibility, talent and improvement. For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of its great symbols and a unique reference for future generations.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Italian giants Juventus have signed Cristiano Ronaldo, with the former Real Madrid star heading for his first spell in Italy, after nine years starring in Spain’s La Liga.Having requested a transfer, the reigning The Best FIFA Men’s Player, fresh from reaching the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia with Portugal, signed a four-year deal with the Turin side, who have won the Italian Serie A title for a record seven successive seasons.“I believe that the time has come to begin a new stage in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept my transfer request. I feel that way and I ask everyone, and especially our followers, to please understand,” Ronaldo said in an open letter.last_img read more

19 Dec

Shosholoza’s story of Good Hope

first_img21 April 2006South Africa evokes the image of the sea that bathes its coasts – on one side the south Atlantic, one the other the Indian Ocean. It was a precarious coast for many mariners, as evidenced by the names given it: the Skeleton or Savage Coast, and the evocative Danger Point.The Cape: a mythical passageSucceeding the Phoenician sailors by about 2000 years – if we trust the Greek historian Herodotus – the navigator Bartholomeu Dias reached the Cape of Storms in February 1488 aboard the caravel Sao-Cristovao.The Cape was sailed again by Vasco da Gama in November 1497, five years after Christopher Columbus reached America.The King of Portugal, Johannes II, preferred to name the rocky spur swept by howling winds the Cape of Good Hope, to mark his interest for this pathway to India and its wealth.The new name did not prevent Dias from dying there 12 years later during an apocalyptic storm.Many other adventurers, travellers and sailors met the same fate, because this Cape remains a place for shipwrecks, especially when the icy southeasterly wind, nicknamed the “Cape Doctor”, bursts out.The history is such that yachtsmen of the world would shiver uncomfortably at the thought of the America’s Cup being sailed in the rough waters off Cape Town.Return towards Europe“We are not here to bring the America’s Cup to Africa. We are here to bring a part of Africa to Europe and the America’s Cup,” was the poetic explanation of Captain Salvatore Sarno when he introduced his Team Shosholoza to the America’s Cup world.It was as if, five hundred years after the arrival of the Europeans at the Cape, the wheel of history had turned, with Africa coming to make a conquest (albeit peacefully) in Europe.When announcing on 4 June 2004, under the Royal Cape Yacht Club banner, the first African challenge in the history of the America’s Cup, Sarno explained his team’s challenge as “an opportunity to show that all of South Africa’s citizens can work together, do well and have success together. In essence it is an opportunity to be part of the African renaissance.”An Italian by birth and an enthusiastic resident of Durban, South Africa for more than 20 years, Sarno is the South Africa president of a maritime transport company and an able yachtsman himself.He has been a tireless supporter and promoter of his adopted homeland, and with his friend Ian Ainslie (a South Africa yachting champion) has supported a sailing school for disadvantaged children in the Cape.In fact, a handful of the team members on Shosholoza have risen through the ranks of the Izivunguvungu Foundation created by Ainslie in 2001, which trains young people in yachting as a way of instilling discipline, pride and teamwork.It is another remarkable story arising out of the ashes of the difficult past in this country.Shosholoza: forging ahead“The Cup gives us the chance to present South Africa as a modern, dynamic, exciting country,” Sarno said. A country that forges ahead, as in the name of the team: “Shosholoza”.Shosholoza, the folk song of migrant labourers on South Africa’s mines, became something of a second national anthem after the country won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.The Zulu word “shosholoza” means “go forward”, “make way for the next man”, or “make your road, forge ahead” – more than fitting for a South African team engaged in the 2007 America’s Cup.“In the America’s Cup every team has its own story, but there is only one team who is the soul of sailing,” Sarno said.And as if to prove this claim, in April 2004 Shosholoza became the first syndicate to launch a newly built version 5.0 ACC boat.One month later, in Valencia, the magnificent Shosholoza (RSA-83), decorated by the graphics inspired by Zulu and Ndebele designs, was christened by the mayor of Valencia, Rita Barbera.After a difficult debut in the Louis Vuitton Acts of 2004, the team struggled to open the 2005 season. But the progress of the team since has been nothing short of spectacular, as Shosholoza concluded the 2005 season with a fifth place finish in the fleet races in Trapani.“The guys have been working hard and you can feel the hunger among the team,” was the assessment of one team member.The spirit of the America’s CupThe history of South Africa was darkened for a long time under the apartheid regime, and during these hard years South African yachting was isolated and underestimated.Nevertheless, sailing in the country has a long history, and was popular as far back as the 1850s, when the yacht America was beginning the story of the America’s Cup in England.In 1857, a local newspaper, the Natal Mercury, spoke of the regularly scheduled regattas organised by the Durban Regatta Club, which was succeeded in 1863 by the Royal Natal Yacht Club.Further to the west, in Cape Town, the introduction of yachting came later. Founded in 1882, the Southern Cross Yacht Club disappeared in 1888.Nevertheless, the Cape received occasional visits from some of the most prestigious navigators: Joshua Slocum with Spray in 1897 and, seven years later, Captain Voss with Tilikum.It may have been visits like these that inspired the foundation of the Table Bay Yacht Club in 1905. In the same year, sailors on the Cape were momentarily inspired by a book of illustrations showing the races for the America’s Cup – but nothing came of this premature exposure.In 1914, the Table Bay Yacht Club changed its name to the Cape Yacht Club and, on 28 May of the same year, the Royal Cape Yacht Club.Prior to that, an eminent member of the Table Bay Yacht Club, Sir Pieter van Blommestein, a pioneer of the former Southern Cross Yacht Club, obtained from Sir Thomas Lipton the gift of a trophy known as the Lipton Cup. The first challenge was sailed in 1911.In 2002, the Lipton Cup, now the most prestigious regatta in South Africa, was won by Salvatore Sarno’s L26 Class MSC Orion Donna Mia, skippered by Ian Ainslie.On board was 21-year-old Golden Mgedeza, the first black sailor to win the Lipton Cup. Mgedeza is the bowman of Shosholoza, as sure a symbol as any of the new South Africa.Source: Americascup.comlast_img read more

18 Dec

Gas power to assist SA, Mozambique

first_img8 June 2012Plans for a gas-fired power plant to supply electricity to South Africa and Mozambique for two years have been unveiled by UK-based power specialist Aggreko and South African investment company Shanduka.“This is thought to be the first project by a private company to supply an interim cross-border power solution to two utilities in southern Africa, and underlines the potential benefits that can accrue to countries sharing resources,” the two companies said in a statement this week.The 107-megawatt plant in Ressano Garcia on the border of the two countries was approved by South African energy regulator Nersa and the Departments of Energy and Public Enterprises.It will be fuelled by gas from Sasol’s Temane gas field and will service Eskom and its Mozambican counterpart, Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM).It will be located in Ressano Garcia as it is in close proximity to the existing Sasol gas pipeline, which runs from northern Mozambique through to South Africa, as well as a 275 kV transmission corridor.In addition, Aggreko will install containerised power generation units, which will be shipped in from Dumbarton in Scotland, and build gas interconnections, a substation, and a 1.5 km 275 kV transmission line to the main network. This infrastructure will remain intact once the installation is dismantled.Power purchase agreements have been signed by both utilities and Eskom will utilise 92 megawatts of the available capacity, while EDM will use 15. The joint venture is expected to bring in revenues of about US$250-million over its operational period, which should begin in October and carry on until July 2014.Eskom is planning to use the power to bolster its base-load capacity ahead of the introduction of new generation capacity from the Medupi coal-fired power station, which is scheduled to begin operating towards the end of 2013. EDM has contracted with the facility to meet its daily peak demand.The project is expected to complement other alternative energy initiatives South Africa is embarking on, including a 100 MW concentrated solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape, as well as a 100 MW wind power project in Sere, outside Cape Town.Eskom is also currently building two major coal-fired power stations, Medupi and Kusile, in Limpopo and Mpumalanga respectively. But until the completion of the stations, South Africa’s high energy demands are expected to continue to threaten the country’s supply.It is hoped that with the agreement this week, both South Africa and Mozambique will get much-needed additional power, with the project also underlining the importance of the two countries as energy hubs for the entire southern African region.According to Aggreko’s chief executive, Rupert Soames, the contract was not only important for South Africa and Mozambique but for southern Africa as a whole.“We also hope this project will be an example for other countries seeking to optimise their resources and manage the supply of regional power.”The companies envisage employment and training of about 100 locals with the procurement process tailored to benefit South African companies.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

17 Dec

North American trade deal signed, moves to Congress

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest  Leave a CommentDespite the signing of the new trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico Nov. 30, work remains as the focus now shifts to Congress and its ratification. The new free trade agreement that took more than a year of intense negotiations among the three partners to come to fruition.Officially called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) but dubbed NAFTA 2.0, the agreement must be voted on by each country’s legislative body before it takes effect.“Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico increased from $8.9 billion to $39 billion under NAFTA,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “In every way, this new agreement is just as good, if not better than, the one that came before.”According to AFBF, several provisions in the agreement will have significant impacts on the agriculture industry:USMCA will provide new market access for dairy and poultry products in Canada and maintains the zero-tariff platform on all other ag products and on all ag products to Mexico.Canada agreed to end its Class 7 pricing scheme.U.S. dairy products gain access to an additional 3.6 percent of Canada’s dairy market.Canada agreed to treat wheat imports the same as domestic wheat for grading and pricing, and Mexico and the U.S. agreed that all grading standards for ag products will be non-discriminatory.USMCA is the first free trade agreement for the U.S. that includes measures that address cooperation, information sharing, and other trade rules related to biotechnology and gene editing. There also are provisions that enhance science-based trading standards among the three nations as the basis for sanitary and phytosanitary measures for ag products, as well as progress in the area of geographic indications.However, Duvall cautioned that there is still work to be done between the three countries to make the agriculture industry whole.“As good as all this news is, farmers and ranchers still face retaliatory tariffs over steel and aluminum disputes with our North American neighbors and other trading partners,” he said. “We urge the administration to redouble its efforts to come to an agreement on those outstanding issues so we can regain the markets we had not long ago.”  Leave a Commentlast_img read more

19 Nov

Cristiano Ronaldo becomes all-time leading scorer across top five European leagues

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo surpassed Jimmy Greaves to become the all-time leading scorer across the top five European league as he scored a brace against Celta Vigo last night in La Liga.Ronaldo’s brace helped Real Madrid cruise to a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo and edge closer to their first La Liga title since 2011. Real Madrid now need only a draw against Malaga on May 21 to lift the coveted trophy over Barcelona who are three points behind the Los Blancos on the table.Jimmy Greaves had, in his glittering career, played for Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, AC Milan and West Ham United and was a prolific player in the 1950s and 60s. Greaves had held the record since 1971.Ronaldo has been in an exceptional form off late scoring two hat-tricks in the Champions League in the past month and three braces, one in Champions League, the other against Sevilla last weekend and now this!The only active player who is close to Ronaldo’s newly achieved record is Lionel Messi with 346 goals.Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo also share the record for most hat-tricks (7) in the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo, though, is the only player to score three hat-tricks in a single season and the only player to score two consecutive hat-tricks in the knockout stage.With the brace against Celta Vigo, Ronaldo reached 284 goals in his 264 appearances in La Liga.Recently, the 4-time Ballon d’Or winner also became the first player to reach 100 goals in the UEFA Champions League, having scored 10 goals in 12 games this season.advertisementReal Madrid are gearing up for a European double this season. With already a hand at the La Liga trophy, Real Madrid will take on Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.ALSO WATCH: UEFA Champions League – Real Madrid CF’s aggression vs Juventus FC’s solidity after blockbuster semi-finalslast_img read more

14 Oct

Modern Klondike gold rush includes lights cameras

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe Yukon’s Economy is booming right now.Mining and exploration is at record highs.With gold prices sitting at $1,600 an ounce, the Klondike is experiencing a second gold rush.Except this time, instead of being armed with picks and shovels, crews are coming with lights and cameras.APTN National News reporter Shirley McLean has this story.last_img

29 Sep

Mike Trout Is A 430 Million Bargain

Trout’s most similar group averaged just fewer than 1.0 WAR by age 38. And that group contains eight Hall of Famers, including Griffey, Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson and Mel Ott. To further complicate matters, the quality of competition in MLB continues to improve over time, and the game is getting younger, making it more difficult to age well.However, if 1 WAR is worth $8 million in 2019, and that value inflates by 3 percent per season (for the first five seasons),2Basic assumptions which, granted, may need re-examining. the average of Trout’s comparable group would be worth about $450 million from age 27 through age 38. And it bears mentioning that Trout has accumulated 48 percent more WAR through age 26 than his comparable group of all-time legends. (Yes, Trout is good.)So Trout seems like a very good bet to deliver more value to the Angels than they’re paying him for in this contract, even if some of the assumptions above are more player-friendly than the current state of baseball’s economics. While many MLB mega-contracts end up looking bad in retrospect, this Trout deal might be the rare one that delivers positive surplus value for the team.Either way, with no opt-outs in the deal and a full no-trade clause, Trout and the Angels are committed to each other for the long haul. If Trout is interested in winning World Series rings, he took a risk in remaining in Anaheim: He has never won a playoff game with the Angels even while establishing himself at the game’s best player. As great as Trout has been, even the best player cannot do it alone — particularly not in baseball, which is a weak-link sport that is less dependent on star talent than other sports.But in some ways, the Angels’ outlook is improving for the second act of the Trout era. Albert Pujols’s albatross of a contract is coming off the books after the 2021 season — $28 million in present-day dead money the Angels can allocate elsewhere.The Angels entered Tuesday with $28 million committed in 2022 salaries, ranking 18th in baseball despite playing in the sport’s No. 2 market in Los Angeles. (The MLB average is $35.2 million committed in 2022, according to Spotrac.) So should the Angels want to compete in the market for high-end free-agent talent in coming years — like, say, Mookie Betts (free agency ETA 2021) or Francisco Lindor (free agency ETA 2022)3Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons will be a free agent after 2020. — they will have the flexibility and purchasing power to do so. As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels are closing in on a 12-year contract extension worth at least $430 million with outfielder Mike Trout, setting the all-time mark for both the largest contract (passing Bryce Harper’s $330 million deal from a few weeks ago) and the greatest average annual contract value in baseball history. Trout is a longtime object of fascination for us here at FiveThirtyEight; we’ve frequently extolled his virtues as baseball’s best and most consistent star. Now he has the record-breaking contract to match his talent — but one that might still represent a big bargain for the Angels. And the deal’s long-term nature only renews questions about Trout’s ability to win in L.A., as well as his potential to break through as a star off the field.At first glance, about $36 million per year seems like a tremendous deal for the Angels. According to FanGraphs’ estimated market values based on wins above replacement (WAR), a player with Trout’s 2018 production should have been worth about $79 million last season. That’s nothing new for Trout: FanGraphs estimates that he was worth $55 million (in 70 percent of a full season) in 2017, $78 million in 2016 and $74 million in 2016. So if Trout continues his recent pace, the Angels will basically be paying him half of what he’d be worth on the open market over the next few seasons.Of course, Trout is also 27 this year, traditionally the age at which baseball players peak. Trout’s new deal will take him through 2030, his age-38 season. Even though no player in baseball history has posted more career WAR through their age-26 season than Trout,1According to a mix of WAR from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com. it’s probably safe to assume that Trout won’t continue to be a 10-WAR-per-season machine throughout the entire life of this contract.The old saying that “Father Time is undefeated” remains true — perhaps truer now than ever. And even star-level players peak more quickly than you might expect. While Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were superstars late into their careers, other outfielders similar to Trout — such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones — fell off a performance cliff after age 30 and never recovered.Here’s a plot of the 10 retired outfielders most similar to Trout through age 26 (according to The Baseball Gauge), along with the arcs of their seasonal WAR as aging took hold: Perhaps most important for the club’s long-term prospects is the productivity of its farm system. For much of Trout’s tenure with the Angels, the club had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. The Angels’ system ranked last in baseball in 2014, 2016 and 2017, according to Baseball America. That’s begun to change. The Angels hired Billy Eppler to lead their front office after the 2015 season; they improved to 14th in the rankings in 2018 and 13th this spring.Outfielder Jo Adell, L.A.’s first-round pick in 2017, has quickly become one of the game’s elite prospects, while starter Griffin Canning, a second-round pick in 2017, gives the Angels a second top-100 prospect. And help from the farm is not too far away: Eight of the top 10 Angels prospects are expected to open in Double-A or higher this spring. Moreover, if the Angels’ top prospect from a year ago, Shohei Ohtani, can become a consistent impact performer as a pitcher and hitter, L.A. could have two star caliber players in one roster spot.The Angels’ biggest long-term issue is that they are in the same division as the Houston Astros, who are on the cutting edge of evaluation and player development. The Astros took home the 2017 World Series trophy, won 103 games a year ago project to win 99 games again this season according to the FiveThirtyEight model, all while maintaining a farm system that has ranked fifth or better in three of the past four years. Baseball America ranks the Astros’ farm system No. 5 in the game entering 2019.It will be no easy task to supplant the Astros as kings of the AL West. And if Trout and the Angels can’t do that, it will be more difficult for Trout to raise his own profile, which lags well behind what his talent would suggest. Only one baseball player made ESPN’s list of the 100 most famous athletes in the world, and it wasn’t Trout — it was Bryce Harper at No. 99. This contract extension makes Trout very rich, but it also forces him to forfeit the chance to join a more likely World Series contender — and he’ll miss out on the spotlight that would have shown on him during his own free agency after the 2020 season.So now the pressure is even greater for the Angels to surround Trout with better talent and build a winner around him. By the end of this contract, he’ll have spent two full decades with the franchise. It would be a true shame if Trout’s next 12 seasons contain as little team success as his first eight did. read more