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Will There be Food Shortages?

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plumbshop BrookshRecent years have seen many problems appearing that have negatively impacted food production, the latest being the terrible situation in the Ukraine. Food prices are likely to increase significantly, especially as Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s main suppliers of wheat. The conflict is expected to reduce exports meaning soaring costs for farms and food processors throughout the UK.

The price of gas needed to heat greenhouses and to produce fertiliser has also soared, prompting the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to request urgent action. The NFU has asked the government for help to enable UK farmers to produce enough food. There is a risk of supermarkets and other food outlets not being able to meet customer demand. The NFU said: “The government must act now, with a clear signal that food security is a priority for the nation,”

There isn’t a quick end in sight for all the disruption to supply chains, food production, availability and affordability. There are worries that food production problems could last for years to come. The boss of one of the largest international fertiliser companies, Yara International warned of a shock to the global supply and cost of food. Escalating fuel prices will also mean people pay more in shops and restaurants.

Around 80% of the world’s sunflower oil and 20% of corn are produced in Russia and the Ukraine say the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Ukrainian workers account for 60% of the UK’s seasonal workers, their essential roles include planting, picking and grading produce. The NFU is urging the government to grant an additional 10,000 visas under the Seasonal Workers Scheme. The amount at present is 30,000. Some farmers are trying to be flexible by adjusting the way they do things to avoid shortages of wheat and barley.

Mark Spencer, commons Leader said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was “across the threats that we face”. He added: “There is no prospect of food shortages at any point in the future, and Defra are working with Treasury to try and make sure that that continues to be the case.”

 

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Is There a Use for Decommissioned Wind Turbine Blades?

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PlumbshopRhinosIt seems everywhere you look these days there are exciting innovations in carbon reduction technology. The latest surprising discovery is that recycled wind turbines can be used as a material for making ‘blade bridges’. There are as yet only two of these structures using repurposed wind turbine blades, one is in Poland and one in Ireland. This is not just an extremely novel idea, it represents a solution to a problem fast appearing on the horizon. Wind turbine blades are functional for around 20 to 25 years, after which time they are replaced. Although wind turbine blades look majestic from a distance, once they are decommissioned they take up huge amounts of landfill space. These blades are around 150 feet in length and weigh dozens of tons per blade.

Approximately 85% of wind turbine components can be reused or recycled, as they are made up of copper wire, steel, electronics and gearing materials. The rest, including the blades, are composed of fibre glass which present a waste disposal problem. The blade’s sturdy, fiber reinforced plastics do not break down easily, and incineration creates further pollution.

Civil engineer Kieran Ruane, a lecturer at Ireland’s Munster Technological University, saw the concept of bridges built from these blades as ‘immediately appealing’. He says: “It was a no-brainer that this needed to be investigated and trialled at least.” Ruane is also a member of Re-Wind, the research network behind Ireland’s new blade bridge.

Due to properties such as lightweightness, strength and weather resistance, the blades are ideal as engineering support structures. When used to form blade bridges wind turbine blades can last at least a hundred years. Public comments about the bridges have been 80 to 90% positive with some finding the appearance to be a bit strange. There are hopes that these blades will eventually be put to other uses such as contemporary and stylish outdoor furniture.

Rhinos Plant Hire are celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year, and this is just one of the many innovations they’ve witnessed in that time!

 

 

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