The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges


Grant recipient updates, fascinating facts, and general news and information from the Lindbergh Foundation

I recently posted updates on two Lindbergh Grant recipients who have completed their research projects.  As always, I find the projects we fund to be so interesting.  I especially like it when a simple idea solves a complex problem.

Take Richard Osiyo for example.  He was faced with finding a problem to Kenya's continuing food crisis while protecting the Lake Victoria water basin from pollutants.  Clearly, throwing more chemical fertilizers at this agricultural problem was not a viable solution.   The Lindbergh Foundation gave Richard a grant so he could work on a project entitled,

“Training Kenyan Farmers to Integrate Rice and Fish Farming to Increase Production and Reduce Harmful Run-off in the Lake Victoria Basin”

Farmer holds fishUsing Lindbergh Grant funds, Mr. Osiyo introduced rice straw, Azolla green manure (a water fern) and urea, as nutrient sources to improve soil fertility and higher yields  in irrigated rice production. The organic materials supply nutrients and cause immobilization of nitrates and phosphates contained in irrigation water.  This prevents the transfer of nutrients from the rice fields to Lake Victoria where they cause pollution. By integrating fish and rice, soil fertility improves because of the waste from the fish. In addition, the fish eat insect pests from the rice and aquatic weeds in the rice fields.

The presence of fish is an integral part of this innovative system.  The fish actually contribute to a positive trickle-down effect as they:  

  1. Reduce the need to use chemical fertilizers in rice production and improves food production,
  2. Reduce malnutrition and increases farmer’s income because families can eat or sell the fish, and
  3. Reduce pollution in Lake Victoria and other water bodies downstream.

The results of this project have shown that the rice-fish-Azolla farming system improves the overall quality of life for the farmers as they are able to increase agricultural production.  All the farmers who participated in the project have adopted the technology and achieved better yields from their crops.  Mr. Osiyo plans to continue with the study.

Who would have thought that fish and especially fish poop could help improve the problem of food shortages and reduce the amount of pollution flowing into Lake Victoria!

You can read Mr. Osiyo's final report by clicking here.

Shelley Nehl, Grants Program Administrator, and I had a wonderful opportunity last week to meet 2009 Lindbergh Grant Recipient Sean Sloan.  He was in Minnesota, all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to meet with the folks from the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota and to give a presentation about the research he conducted using Lindbergh Grant funds. 

Although Sean has not yet submitted his final report for his research project entitled, "Combining Satellite Imagery and Census Data to Show how Socio-Economic Development Encourages Forest Regeneration in Panama," he told us that one particularly exciting outcome of his project is the creation of what is essentially a global census of the environment using satellite images.  He has also gathered census data from Panama for the period of 1980 - 2000, to study the pathways of social and environmental change.  He believes that his study measures and confirms theories of change and could improve the field of geography.  Sean says the most significant outcome of his work is learning what social changes influence which specific environmental changes, and they aren't always what we might think.

I hope you'll stay tuned for further updates on this fascinating study.

A special thanks to Sean for spending the extra time with Shelley and me, and to the kind people we met at the Minnesota Population Center.

Ms. Hart's final report supports her hypothesis that the peach twig borer uses both sound and pheromones to locate each other for mating purposes and that using a combination of these tools can be effective in controlling the pests.  This also means that a more advanced trap must be developed than those currently in use.  In her report, Ms. Hart wrote, "The sound signals are simple sounds, more basic than the songs emitted by microchips in 'singing' greeting cards, or in sound-emitting plush toys.  By incorporating the female sound and pheromone signals into one trap to control males, and male sounds alone in a trap to control females, growers should be able to use this combination of new and old technology to effectively and safely rid their crops of this pest moth."  Read her full report here.

Dr. Ganesh Raman recently presented a paper at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2010 Aerospace Sciences Conference in Orlando, Florida.  The paper was based on the research funded by the Lindbergh Foundation.  He conveyed some very good results.  Click here to download a PDF of his paper.

2007 Lindbergh Grant Recipient Dr. Peter Wrege was included in a "60 Minutes" segment entitled, "The Secret Language of Elephants" on January 3, 2010.  Click here to read about Dr. Wrege's research project and for a link to the "60 Minutes" segment.  It's a fascinating story.

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