NASA & The Hub


The gringa often hears folks say things like, “NASA is really doing some amazing things, but it doesn’t seem like much of their technology is really helpful to us regular folks here on Earth.” Well, actually, there are great spin-off benefits to all that amazing space technology.

Consider the new program underway in Australia. An Australian organization, National Resources Management Spatial Hub (NRM Hub, or, more commonly, the Hub), is using satellite images of Earth provided by NASA, and other space agencies, to help them better manage rangeland. As global populations continue to grow, demand rises for meat production. Now, more than ever before, do Australia’s ranchers need every edge they can get to meet this demand by using sustainable methods.

With over eighty percent of Australia classified as rangeland, more commonly known as the “Outback”, Earth observation technology is helping ranchers make better land management decisions. This will help leave a stable environment for future generations. With so much land mass available for grazing in its natural condition, Australia is in a unique position to produce meat for the global community without the need to resort to slash and burn forests to create grazing areas. This is good news for climate change by recognizing one resource to utilize responsibly and reduce deforestation.

Earth observation data also helps Australia’s land managers develop innovative ways to manage their precious water resources. The data also provides an overall, panoramic, “big picture” perspective so that ranchers can determine which grassland areas may be overgrazed. They can then reorganize their grazing plans, moving herds to other areas and promote the health of their rangelands.

The Hub is comprised of over 20 Australian agencies, federal and state, as well as research organizations and industry related organizations. They put to good use the satellite images provided by NASA. The Aqua and Terra satellites provide new images on a 16 day cycle. As images are collected over the years, more knowledge is gained in tracking and understanding climate conditions such as drought. This gives ranchers the information they need to make critical ranching decisions.

Ranchers don’t just want to make money, they also want to maintain healthy land that can pass into the hands of their children who continue the ranching tradition. Many of Australia’s ranches have remained in families for generations. They take great pride not just in producing meat and wool, but also in being environmentally conscious.

The Hub has produced results that have impressed the agricultural community in Australia. It has grown from its original 40 properties to 120 ranches presently. At least another 100 are on a waiting list to join the program. This is the agriculture of the future, farming and ranching as a hi-tech, global community effort.

Similar techniques such as what the Hub uses in Australia are being put into practice in other areas like Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso where satellite data is used to measure potential agricultural output. In South Asia data monitors rice production, the grain upon which the world is most dependent.

After all this scribbling about meat production and such, the gringa is going to have to push herself away from the desk and throw a juicy T-bone on the grill. Ta!

Source & Photo Credit:  www.nasa.gov    www.nrmhub.com.au

 

 

 

The Ranch Of The Swallows


The featured picture above is a “shepherd’s bed”. Historically, such a thing would have been situated over a cooking area. If the dear reader looks closely at the image, an oven carved out of the adobe can be seen in the corner. The bed served to control smoke and would be a warm place to sleep. Usually the arthritic old folks, someone sick, or the babies would sleep there because of its cuddly warmth. The caveman and the gringa got to see this interesting contraption when we visited El Rancho de los Golondrinas, or, The Ranch of the Swallows. The Ranch is a living history museum with original buildings and much of the furnishings dating back to the eighteenth century. It is located on two hundred acres within a rural farming valley just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As the original family and families of their ranch hands flourished and prospered, the original barn was eventually converted into a chapel and a larger barn constructed. The family chapel still stands and visitors can see a beautiful, intricately carved altar and many handmade icons of the patron saint of farmers, Isidoro.

The Ranch was practically self-sufficient and had its own blacksmith shop. To view it, visitors enjoy a stroll down a shady lane that passes a marsh. The marsh is dotted with colorful flowers and filled with birds that populate the thick grove of trees around this precious natural water feature.

Most of the buildings are original and date back as far as the early 1700s. Some buildings have been reconstructed but are still historically accurate and blend in so well visitors can’t tell one from another. One of these buildings is a general store where visitors can enjoy an eighteenth century shopping experience. The gringa recommends the sarsaparilla which will be served up to you by a volunteer dressed in period clothing posing as a local villager.

Throughout the year the ranch hosts a number of events and shows that realistically depict life on the frontier in early New Mexico. There are festivals, music, dance, rodeos and many other aspects of life re-enacted to share with guests the culture and influences of Spanish, Mexican and Territorial periods of the Southwest.

The gringa and the caveman came away from this experience enriched. We decided that although we enjoy our modern, technologically advanced lifestyle, we can appreciate the simplicity and beauty of life at a place like that ranch. Sure, it was full of hardship and extremely labor intensive, but what an incredible sense of community to live and work in a conclave like that. The only thing the gringa would really throw a fit about missing would be my very large and powerful hot water heater.