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Exploring the Fourth Wave of Environmental Innovation
Header banner - Innovation and the Environment by EDF
October 9, 2020 
A striking fact: When irrigation water is applied to crops, between 60% and 95% of it is returned to the air through evaporation from the soil and transpiration from plants — together known as evapotranspiration, or ET. Just how much is returned is critical information for managing the water used to grow our food — especially as climate change makes droughts longer and more frequent — but the amount has historically been expensive and complex to measure.
 
That’s why EDF, along with NASA, Google, the Desert Research Institute, the U.S. Geological Society and dozens of other partners, is developing a powerful new web app, OpenET. When it launches next year, OpenET will make critical water data widely accessible to farmers and water managers for the first time, at no to low cost. They can use the insights to refine irrigation practices and maximize “crop per drop.” OpenET uses a powerful combination of public data and satellite imagery that will yield tangible results for water in the West and food supplies for our entire country.
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Beekeeper Simon Lynch uses a smart sensor device made by ApisProtect in his hives (CNN)

Smart sensors could save the world's honey bees via CNN
Why it matters: Global honey bee populations, essential pollinators for the world’s food supply, are in decline. Hive-mounted, internet-connected devices that measure temperature, humidity, sound and movement could help beekeepers effectively manage more bees at lower cost. 
 
LISTEN: How tech makes agriculture more efficient via The Wall Street Journal
Why it matters: More efficient agriculture can be more sustainable and profitable. In this 14-minute podcast episode, WSJ reporter Jacob Bunge looks at the role of data analytics and e-commerce in agriculture.
 
WATCH: Electric vehicle news roundup via Transport Evolved
Why it matters: Electric vehicles are picking up speed. Tesla, for example, made record deliveries in the third quarter, and Volvo’s first fully electric car has now gone into production.
 
NEXT UP: Diesel trucks and buses must give way to electric ones
Why it matters: Diesel-fueled trucks and buses have a disproportionate health and climate impact, accounting for just 4% of vehicles on the road yet producing nearly half of the nitrous oxide emissions and nearly 60% of fine particulate pollution from all vehicles. Amid the signs of transition to electric cars, we need bolder policies and actions to change the game for trucks and buses too. 
 
A case for operations-driven sustainability via McKinsey & Company
Why it matters: “When companies optimize their operations — whether to increase productivity, improve quality, or reduce cost — better environmental performance can be a byproduct.” Examples from manufacturing, consumer goods, logistics and procurement sectors illustrate how.

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I look forward to sharing more news from the frontiers of environmental innovation. Please send me your thoughts and suggestions at innovation@edf.org.

Fred
 

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join the Fourth Wave of environmental innovation conversation on Medium.

 


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