Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Plant/crop science

29 October 2018

This report from the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board reviews how the behaviour of farmers might be influenced so that the recommendations of researchers and policymakers can be implemented on farms.

Image: Rory MacLeod, 195.365, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

A traditional variety of corn grown by people from Sierra Mixe in southern Mexico can thrive in poor soils without needing much extra fertiliser. A group of researchers have shown that the plant is able to draw nitrogen from the air through mucus-laden aerial roots on its stems. It’s hoped that the trait can eventually be bred into commercial corn strains.

2 October 2018

This book, edited by Ramesh Namedo Pudake, Nidhi Chauhan, and Chittaranjan Kole, highlights ways in which nanomaterials can be used in agriculture. The book covers both social and environmental aspects.

25 September 2018

This book, by Sheldon Krimsky, will discuss the debate surrounding genetically modified organisms, include the health, safety, environmental, and scientific concerns.

Image: axelmellin, Tomato plant food, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
24 July 2018

An article in Wired explains the implications for agriculture of the gene-editing tool Crispr, which can be used to edit the DNA of living cells at specific points in the genome. Potential applications include removing swollen joints from tomato stems, which can puncture the fruit.

Image: Kimberly Vardeman, Cotton Harvest, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
30 April 2018

Several companies are using microbes to improve crop performance. One of them is Indigo, which uses machine learning to identify the microbes associated with healthy plants and then coats seedlings with these microbes. Indigo’s method has increased wheat yields by 15% and cotton yields by 14% in trials.

8 January 2018

The Food Ethics Council has published a free, special edition, online magazine – ‘For whom? Questioning the food and farming research agenda' – that brings together the thoughts and opinions of over 30 experts.

Photo: Colin Crowley, NEkenyaFB21|Young boy with lack of hair pigment due to protein deficiency during nutrition survey in Wajir District, Flickr, CC by 2.0
30 October 2017

This study by US- and New Zealand-based researchers estimates the effect of elevated CO2 (eCO2) on the edible protein content of crop plants, and subsequently on protein intake and protein deficiency risk globally, by country. The basis for this study is that 76% of the world’s population derives most of their daily protein from plants, and that a meta-analysis by Myers, et al. (2014) revealed that plant nutrient content (of various types including protein, iron and zinc) changes under elevated CO2.

Photo: Gralbeard, TomatoesRootSystem1-SouthGardenBed, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

This research brings together data from 389 field trials to determine how the root and shoot biomass, and carbon (C) stocks of major crops correlate to soil C in different environmental conditions. The analysis found all crops allocated more C to their shoots than roots. The greatest C allocation to roots was in grasses (which also had the highest plant biomass production).

12 April 2017

This Data Science Insights talk hosted by Thomson Reuters sees presentations from Professor Nilay Shah from Imperial College, Judith Batchelar, Director of Brand at UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, and Derek Scuffell, Head of R&D Information Systems at Syngenta, who share insights on how their supply chains are driven by data.  They discuss how advances in genetically modified foods and in agricultural technology could help prevent food shortages and price fluctuations and help the world feed itself by 2025.

Photo: Erik Edgren, Root, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
4 April 2017

In this post in the Conversation, crop scientist Matthew Wallenstein, Associate Professor and Director at the Innovation Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Colorado State University, discusses the potential of natural microbes to improve agriculture and make it more sustainable. 

Photo credit: Leslie De Blasio, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
15 February 2017

This chapter by Elias Fereres and Francisco J. Villalobos in the book Principles of Agronomy for Sustainable Agriculture argues that sustainable intensification of production would be best achieved through continuous, small productivity improvements rather than through a few revolutionary discoveries, at least in the medium term.