Facing up to Phosphorus

May 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Farmers around the world have come to depend on manufactured inorganic fertilizers containing key plant nutrients phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium to enhance soil fertility, especially in the otherwise poor soils of most tropical settings. But while all three are relatively abundant in nature, commercially viable sources of phosphorus to make these fertilizers could be exhausted just a few decades from now. That prospect, which remains a source of heated debate, has spurred a drive to recover the significant quantities of this element that disappear in the waste streams of cities and farms.

Defending Science: How the Art of Rhetoric Can Help

April 27, 2017 Guest Authors 0

When scientists gather to march for science, we want them to know about this body of research. In addition to carrying signs, they can take up the toolbox of effective communication known as the rhetorical tradition. Rhetoricians will be marching by their side, allies in the battle to protect science from politically motivated attacks on one of the greatest treasures of the nation.

A Genetically Engineered Organic Wheat? It Already Exists

April 18, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Whoever thought that France and organic agriculture would be world leaders for the introduction of GE (genetically engineered) wheat? A stretch? Not as much as it might seem. What follows is the story of how plant breeders engineered a unlikely new crop through a series of sophisticated “conventional” techniques to move a use gene from a wild plant into wheat, despite the fact that the two plants could not be naturally crossbred.

Carbon Farming for Fun and Profit. Good Policy Can Help.

April 17, 2017 Guest Authors 0

With shifting political winds and poor commodity prices, farmers may now be willing to consider new ways of generating income by adopting environmentally friendly practices, such as planting cover crops, extending crop rotations or eliminating tillage. Many farmers are already using these practices on a small scale. To combat climate change and stabilize incomes, farmers should look to policy to tackle both in tandem.

Technology that Will Change Agriculture in 2017

March 22, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Historically, agriculture has always moved forward through technological innovation. The current moment is no different. Look for remote sensing, genetic engineering and CRISPR, robotics, and drones to continue to push agricultural productivity forward in 2017.

How GMO Crops Can Help Us to Feed a Fast-Growing World

February 20, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Stuart Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Plant Biochemistry at the University of Westminster lays out three areas; disease resistance, improved photosynthesis, and improved nutrition; where breakthroughs in biotech crop breeding could go a long way to improving the impact of agriculture.

Mind the Gaps: Reducing Hunger by Improving Yields on Small Farms

February 10, 2017 Guest Authors 0

There are tremendous opportunities to increase yields throughout South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing yields through new farming practices could triple maize production in sub-Saharan Africa and increase wheat and rice production in South Asia by about 50 percent. Gains on this scale could dramatically reduce hunger and food insecurity in some of the most vulnerable nations in the world.

Porklife: Building a Better Pig

February 8, 2017 Guest Authors 0

How have the farm animals of today been shaped by centuries of domestication and selective breeding? Sujata Gupta investigates.

. . . The Pig Adventure, housing 3,000 sows and producing 80,000 piglets per year, sits alongside a 36,000-cow Dairy Adventure, with murmurings of further adventures for fish and chickens. This is “agro-Disneyland”, a place where rides have been replaced by adorable pink piglets and 72-cow robotic milking parlours (or cow “merry-go-rounds” as our guide calls them).

Fate of Colombian Shellfish Pickers Closely Tied to Mangrove

February 6, 2017 Guest Authors 0

SANQUIANGA NATIONAL PARK, Colombia – Along the northern edge of Colombia’s Pacific coast region, thousands of people rely on an unassuming shellfish called a “piangua” for daily survival. The small, black clam lives tucked deep in the stinky mud of mangrove trees.

But the global decline of mangrove forests at about 1 percent annually, years-long decline of the piangua, encroaching drug traffickers, and the stigma surrounding piangua pickers are endangering the traditional practice of piangua picking

New Maps Show How Our Consumption Impacts Wildlife Thousands of Miles Away

February 3, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Global trade has made it easier to buy things. But our consumption habits often fuel threats to biodiversity — such as deforestation, overhunting and overfishing — thousands of miles away.

Now, scientists have mapped how major consuming countries drive threats to endangered species elsewhere. Such maps could be useful for finding the most efficient ways to protect critical areas important for biodiversity, the researchers suggest in a new study.

Invisible Irrigators: How Small-Scale Tanzanian Farmers Are Making a Difference

February 3, 2017 Guest Authors 0

New research has revealed that Tanzania’s official statistics on irrigation often don’t include initiatives set up and run by individual farmers. This is either because they’re not aware of it, or because they don’t consider it to have much potential.

Compared to formally engineered projects, this ‘farmer-led’ irrigation is often small-scale and interspersed among non-irrigated fields. This makes it harder to record. It also takes diverse forms. These range from watering via pumps, wells, flooded valley bottoms, or even via stream diversions or small dams.

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