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New Food-Growth Product a Bit Hairy

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the what-can-your-grow-from-fingernails dept.

Earth 243

MeatBag PussRocket writes "An article from Marketplace.org reports, 'A Florida company has developed an all-natural product that it says could revolutionize how food is grown in the US. It's called Smart Grow, but it might be a tough sell. It's inexpensive. It eliminates the need for pesticides, so it's environmentally friendly, but it's human hair. Plant pathologists at the University of Florida have found the mats eliminate weeds better than leading herbicides and can also make plants grow up to 30 percent larger.'"

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243 comments

So let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762763)

Of dangerous chemicals, animal manure, or human hair, people are squeamish about the human hair?

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Funny)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762799)

1 word: cooties

Re:So let me get this straight... Gives a new MEAN (0, Offtopic)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763481)

ing to .... Harry Potter...

Hell, even Clarence Thomas might want to LOUDLY proclaim about his pubic-hair-on-the-Coke-can comment: "See, I'm VINdickATED"...

Now, things will suck if cashews come with hair... It would also suck if my comments are based on a lame submission summary...

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Funny)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762847)

Agreed and THIS: more people than that die every hour from:

Pencil sharpener mishaps
Loose shoelaces
Ennui
Swine flu (aka Captain Tripps)
Paper cuts
Choking on midgets
Fox News
Staring too long at Rob Malda
Nail biting
Ugliness
Smoking cigarettes
Bad haircuts
Forgetting to breathe
Segway vs. Prius collisions
Snorting bleach
Coding in CSS
Auto-erotic asphyxiation
Cricket attacks
Playing cricket while intoxicated
E.coli
E.fail
Fork/toaster/musical chairs
Chair falls
Chainsaw juggling
Country music
Posting about POSIX compliance on Slashdot
Chewing tinfoil

=Smidge=

Re:So let me get this straight... (3, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762857)

I agree. Funny, innit?

"Oh, that pesticide is NASTY! It's like Zyklon-B or nerve gas! And manure is...is... POOP! It's full of GERMS! But: HUMAN HAIR? EeeEEEeeeewww! Gross! Gag me with a spoon! Give me the nerve gas or the cowshit! Now!"

RS

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763429)

Nothing wrong with germs though, without them I doubt it would work very good, but I'm not sure, cubensis grow well in sterile soil.

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762869)

The weird thing is that if it was something like wool, there would probably be no objection.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763729)

Naked sheep might object to using wool. And does sheep feed grow better with wool mats, so the technology can be used to raise a larger number of sheep so more wool mats can be made?

Don't forget to order pesticides for the new crop of clothes moths, carpet beetles, cockroaches, and biting lice which eat hair or wool. And field crickets like damp places to hide, but they'll eat the plants instead of eating the mat.

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

TornCityVenz (1123185) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762885)

You should see the list of chemicals or "product" some people put in their hair.

Re:So let me get this straight... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763115)

"You should see the list of extremely toxic chemicals or "product" MOST people put in their hair."

Fixed that for you.

And for those who are in denial, look up the ingredients in your favorite personal care products, then look for the MSDS [wikipedia.org], and then stfu!

Re:So let me get this straight... (0, Flamebait)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762949)

Go see Auschwitz, then tell me you aren't the least bit squeamish about products made from human hair.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't buy this, but I can understand the worry.

Re:So let me get this straight... (2, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763301)

sadly the people of the new Generation will have zero idea what you are referring too when you talk about Auschwitz - it's very sad but other than in a history book, the common person doesn't pay attention anymore.

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763497)

Auswits, isn't that the country just south of Albania?

Re:So let me get this straight... (0, Offtopic)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763505)

sadly the people of the new Generation will have zero idea what you are referring too when you talk about Auschwitz - it's very sad but other than in a history book, the common person doesn't pay attention anymore.

I guess you're not european then? I'd rather say we are feed ww2 information & holocaust awareness much more than we need / want.

There are holocaust tv programs every now and then and if you have something like discovery channel you'll get lots of ww2 programs all the time.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763461)

I doubt we'll start farm and kill humans to get their hair ..

Shaving natural dead people don't seem very likely either.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763005)

Of dangerous chemicals, animal manure, or human hair, people are squeamish about the human hair?

One word: nits. :-D

Re:So let me get this straight... (4, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763047)

and from the article -

In China, hair is a commodity, used in wigs and even as an additive in food.

OK as an additive in food? That is gross. Wait, hair pie? Nevermind.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763533)

Cysteine is supposed to often be made from hair (according to wikipedia at least.)

I asked Scivation how it was with the N-acetyl-Cysteine in their VasoCharge product and they said it was not from hair but who knows ..

Also sheeps wool aren't supposed to grow without cysteine or something such so I guess that's why it's a good source ..

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763101)

30% larger? cool. and as we know the smaller fruits from plants compared to larger ones tend to have more flavor. size != quality sometimes. i'm skeptical. then again, i'm open to something that eliminates the use of pesticides in conventional growing.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763601)

But they want more sales, not more taste.

I live in Sweden and here most things don't taste much at all anyway since most of it is shipped unripe anyway.

One can get things like tomatoes in cans though and then you probably get ripe plum tomatoes instead of green house grown shipped unripe ones.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763411)

Yeah, I don't get it either, I rather take human hair than animal hair too =P

Just mark the peas "soylent greens" and it's all go.

Re:So let me get this straight... (4, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763735)

Of dangerous chemicals, animal manure, or human hair, people are squeamish about the human hair?

I once heard an old gardener say that the best way to plant a rose bush is on top of a wad of human hair. Apparently this has been done for centuries.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

yoma666 (1083023) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763977)

Honestly you don't want to know what's in my hair, i bet it's more dangerous then most chemicals.

Other usages? (4, Funny)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762787)

and can also make plants grow up to 30 percent larger.'"

Maybe someone needs to use this idea to make a super penis pill!

Re:Other usages? (5, Informative)

bentcd (690786) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762841)

and can also make plants grow up to 30 percent larger.'"

Maybe someone needs to use this idea to make a super penis pill!

Evolution is way ahead of you: the human penis is already grown in a bed of human hair.

Re:Other usages? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763653)

Evolution is way ahead of you: the human penis is already grown in a bed of human hair.

Fuck, I knew the body grooming was a bad idea ..

Re:Other usages? (1)

Slacksoft (1066064) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763761)

Unfortunately when human hair is combined with the penis the effect is a 30% reduction in visible growth.

Re:Other usages? (1)

Trikki Nikki! (1516301) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763207)

Maybe someone needs to use this idea to make a super penis pill!

I get enough spam in my inbox as it is, please for the love of all that is good and holy do not give the spammers any more ideas!

I've heard weeeeird things .... (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763799)

I've heard about people using cumcumbers and other vegetables for sex, but making your plants 30% larger for sex is a bit "over the top" ....

Does it work only with human hair? (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762801)

What about wool from sheep or other animals? That might be cheaper...

Re:Does it work only with human hair? (2, Interesting)

esten (1024885) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762871)

I would expect that any hair works since Hair being made of protein is rich in nitrogen.

Re:Does it work only with human hair? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762919)

I would suspect that human hair would be cheaper as there isn't any other use for it.

Re:Does it work only with human hair? (2, Informative)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763011)

I would suspect that human hair would be cheaper as there isn't any other use for it.

It's used a lot in wigs.

Re:Does it work only with human hair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763779)

Only the really nice, large pieces.
This stuff probably is okay with short little trimmings, all the inches and two inches that most people just leave on the floor of the barbershop.

I am sad to say I have not contributed to this any in the past three years though.

Beowulf clusters of hair donors? (1)

qwertphobia (825473) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762803)

I sense a few more bald heads running around if this product starts to take off!

Re:Beowulf clusters of hair donors? (3, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763111)

I will then have to put up with people asking if I'm ok, have I lost my job, why am I selling my hair for fertilizer?

Nature can be so cruel.

Bring the 80's rockers back! (4, Funny)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762915)

Now they really can do something about world hunger!

Re:Bring the 80's rockers back! (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763751)

Now they really can do something about world hunger!

In the 80s people keept their hair ...

Not so bad... (5, Interesting)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762921)

That's not so bad. My HS science teacher told me about an experiment where people off the street were given free chicken and asked how it tastes, etc. Later they were told that the chickens were fed plants grown exclusively from human waste. They didn't eat any more of the chicken after being told this.

But, there's absolutely nothing wrong with eating an animal which has been fed plants grown on manure, human or otherwise :P

Re:Not so bad... (3, Interesting)

icebrain (944107) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763021)

On a field trip to MSFC in 5th grade, a couple of us were brave enough to try water from the prototype of the recycled-urine machine on the space station. Everyone looked at us funny, but it didn't taste any different.

Re:Not so bad... (1, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763933)

Yes, there is. The waste gets on the plant, the waste contains waste born illnesses, the chicken eats the waste contaminated plant and becomes a carrier/host for the infectious agent, you eat the animal and YOU become sick. There's a reason we don't feed animals meat anymore, it leads to a circle of infection that is MUCH more likely to end in food-born illness for us.

Re:Not so bad... (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#27764059)

I think once you tell people something like: "we just tricked you into eating something which is related to X" - people are just wary of you. It doesn't really matter what X was, just that apparently you tried to gross them out and messed with their food.

I'm Skeptical (0)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762945)

This makes sense if it is applied as a mulch, allowing the desired plant to grow while preventing weeds and other invasive plants. There's plenty of other similar products on the marked made from a variety of materials from plastic to woven fiber to paper. However, I'm suspicious of the claim that the product works if you place it at the bottom of the pot [smartgrow.us]. How is this going to prevent weeds?

Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762961)

Lots of things eliminate weeds better than herbicides. Any sufficiently impermeable material used as mulch eliminates weeds better than herbicides. Most gardeners are familiar with the concept of a weed barrier.

I used to use sheep manure over newspaper both as a source of nitrogen (and other minerals) and as a weed barrier. It was nearly 100% effective. Given the labor involved, however, I'm sure herbicide would have been more cost-effective at preventing weed growth.

The question is whether applying a barrier against weeds is more cost-effective than herbicides, and I don't know the answer to that, especially considering the environmental impact of herbicides. Just looking at effectiveness of the material doesn't tell us much.

One other note -- sure it's inexpensive now, since there is an incredible amount of wasted human hair. But if this were ever deployed widely, I think we'd see prices of shorn hair go up, and I question whether there'd be enough to meet demand until it cost the same as other methods.

Re:Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763285)

Just imagine if copper thieves switched over to hair. Ow.

Re:Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (1)

zalas (682627) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763313)

When I listened to this on NPR, they say that they get their hair from China, because hair is apparently traded there, instead of thrown away in the barber shop. I'm sure we can get a decent amount of hair from barbershops worldwide if it becomes useful.

Re:Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763353)

I'm sure herbicide would have been more cost-effective at preventing weed growth.

It is, for a few generations but over the course of time certain weeds have become at least partially immune to such spraying and thus they require more and more spraying in order to remain as effective as they once were. While those that oppose chemical sprays for farming claim it's like a drug addiction, I like to think it was a known side effect that the chemical companies were looking to exploit.

Re:Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763919)

And this is where (future) Monsantos ownage of all crops in the world, all the production of them and (currently) no responsibility for whatever contamination do comes in handy ... ;)

Re:Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (1)

LexPat (1417817) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763617)

I wonder how effectively cow hair works. From the number of cows we slaughter you would think there would be plenty of their hair.

Re:Eliminates weeds better than herbicides? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763727)

Cows don't have very long hair, so it's not economical to shear. You are practically proposing that we use raw leather.

In fact, most animals with hair long enough to use like this are already shorn for use in textiles. (long-haired dogs & cats being possible exceptions)

taxes (5, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762981)

Maybe I'll be able to get my head and crotch zoned as agricultural now. My efforts to get them zoned commercial were deemed illegal outside of Nevada.

Re:taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763713)

Is there a market for lice?

Why it is human hair (5, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763055)

It's human hair because, being at the top of the food chain, all those nasty chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers collect in our bodies in the highest concentrations. Thus our hair is chock-full-o-chemicals. It's no wonder human hair mats have all these wondrous properties -- they are really just recycling all those chemicals we've been putting into the environment for the last 50 years.

Re:Why it is human hair (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763269)

You're close. Actually, hair is an excellent fertilizer because it's something like 14% nitrogen. Other wonderful fertilizers include bones and blood. Imagine that, dead animals make good fertilizer! This is what nature has been doing with dead plants and animals for a long, long time.

Risks? (1)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763103)

Alternatively, what's the risk of the various pests that plague crops adapting to flourish in human hair?

Re:Risks? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#27764007)

Alternatively, what's the risk of the various pests that plague crops adapting to flourish in human hair?

Just as long as the slugs don't adopt a habit of feeding on it and start to crawl up on top of people heads ..

Great -instead of head lice... (2, Funny)

spineboy (22918) | more than 4 years ago | (#27764013)

I can see it now - there will be some weed that will adapt to grow on this stuff - something will make the jump. Then we will start to see people who "catch" an infection of dandelions on their head.

New! - Head & Shoulders with Ortho 5 weed killer!!

Hair... factory? (4, Funny)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763109)

So just where is all this hair coming from, exactly? Are there 3rd world hair factories where children will be surreptitiously filmed hanging from the ceiling with their hair attached to hooks to make it grow faster, videos of natives explaining just how many beads they get paid for a pound of hair which figures out to a monthly income equivalent of 63 cents, and the poor orphans trotting out missing chunks from their ear where the evil corporate barbers sheared just a bit too fast and cut them for squirming? Will we see Sally Struthers begging us for just $1 a day so the poor hairless masses CAN AFFORD WIGS?!?!

Hay's cheaper and works well, too (3, Insightful)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763119)

The idea of using mulch to control weeds is at least 4000 years old. Sure, it works really well. Why use hair? Buy bales of hay, and break off 20 cm thick flakes. Put them over the ground end-to-end, leaving spaces for the crop stems.
And there's the reason people have moved to pesticides: it isn't labor-intensive. You don't win anything by having hand labor to install something that only increases your yield 30% unless you're a backyard gardener. You can spray pesticides over 50 acres in an afternoon.

I use hay to mulch in my garden. It works amazingly well. At the end of the year it's broken-down enough that the tomato roots have grown up into the lowest layer, right at the ground level, to use the proto-compost. The only drawback is seeds in the hay sprouting when it's rototilled in.

Likewise, ground cloth with holes cut out for the plants you want, works really well -- better than pesticides -- but then you have to deal with a bunch of somewhat broken-down ground cloth at the end of the year.

Re:Hay's cheaper and works well, too (1)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763537)

The ground cloth idea has me thinking...

I recall a home recycling project where plastic shopping bags were cut open, trimmed, layered 4 - 6 deep, then ironed on low between wax paper. The resulting material is similar to tyvek.

A ground cloth made from that would seem to serve as a weed barrier and likely not break down as much as something made from other materials.

Re:Hay's cheaper and works well, too (2, Informative)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763721)

A summer of hot sun beating down on it would surely break it down.*

* - Writing as someone who thought, "Hey, if using plastic sheeting on the ground for a month to kill weed seeds works, think how well it will work if I leave it on the ground for three months!" Hot sun turns plastic nice and brittle and, ultimately, into little bits of plastic blown all over the place.

Re:Hay's cheaper and works well, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763855)

plastic shopping bags

The other part of being a weed barrier is not killing the things that aren't weeds. This might work with a drip irrigation system under the plastic, otherwise, all your attempts at watering the garden will just run off.

Re:Hay's cheaper and works well, too (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763857)

You also want water to get through.

That's where this hair based sheeting (why not just use the hair from highland cattle?) and other ground cover works - it's permeable.

Plastic + Wax Paper sounds like a recipe for not letting water get to the ground, and hence the roots. Might be good as a base for your driveway/patio/shed floor.

Pine Needle Mulch (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763583)

I just mulched my flowerbeds with pine needle mulch. Cleared my street front at the same time.
Good quality mulch, and will renew itself most likely in time for next year.

Re:Hay's cheaper and works well, too (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763707)

If you can track down some straw, it won't have as much of a seed problem (but it will also do less fertilizing).

I'm going to be rich! (3, Funny)

Trikki Nikki! (1516301) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763137)

I am soooo cashing in on this! I have hair down to my ass, so lets just say my shower gets clogged frequently. How much do you think they buy it for? I've never died/permed/etc...

This is just like Christmas, only better :D

Plastic weed barriers (2, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763193)

Plastic weed barriers are sold on rolls in your friendly local hardware store. A layer of black plastic plus a layer of bark on top is very effective and used by gardeners everywhere.

Slashdot to digg Conversion Project - Day 13 (5, Insightful)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763221)

samzenpus's campaign to gradually introduce awful articles that should have been in idle [slashdot.org] onto the main site continues. The plan seems to be to post one or two of these every day until we no longer think of them as odd. Then they can increase the rate a bit, eventually merge idle entirely into the main site, and voila! Slashdot can be as hip and successful of a site as digg is!

History up to this point:
April 28 - Tokyo Scientists Create Mobile Slime [slashdot.org]
April 27 - Air Force One Flyby Causes Brief Panic In NYC [slashdot.org]
April 27 - How To Have an Online Social Life When You're Dead [slashdot.org]
April 23 - Race Car Made With Veggies And Powered By Chocolate [slashdot.org]
April 22 - Robotic Penguins [slashdot.org]
April 22 - Yamaha Unveils Golf Cart Powered By Cow Dung [slashdot.org]
April 21 - Biotech Company to Patent Pigs [slashdot.org]
April 21 - The Taste of Space [slashdot.org]
April 17 - Philosophies and Programming Languages [slashdot.org]

Do we really want the guy behind the worst articles I've ever seen on slashdot [slashdot.org] shaping the direction of this site?

Re:Slashdot to digg Conversion Project - Day 13 (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763477)

It's a protein based (high nitrogen) mulch. Of course plants grow better.

Re:Slashdot to digg Conversion Project - Day 13 (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763811)

Apparently hair takes forever to compost on it's own. If you just wanted to compost hair, and not use it as a mulch, you could probably pre-treat it with a bit of lye. Just don't make your compost pile too alkaline.

Re:Slashdot to digg Conversion Project - Day 13 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763819)

what

Ewww (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27763455)

Looks like the tometo.

When I was a kid.... (4, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#27763681)

When I was in High School, some of the girls there sold their hair once a year to one of the hair product companies, I believe Clairol, but I could be wrong. Pretty sure it was used for testing hair products.

They actually got quite a bit for it, depending on the length, color and how much they treated it. I remember going to a keg party that was financed by such a girl cashing in on her hair.

I also remember that one of those same girls always had these crazy long fingernails, as she sold those as well.

You can cover a whole planet with these (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27764037)

Get "The Carpet Makers" (german Original: "Die Haarteppuchknüpfer") bei Andreas Eschbach.

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