Mutant roots reveal how we can grow crops in damaged soils

Researchers have unearthed a 'biological switch' which could boost crop yield worldwide.

Sacha Mooney, Professor in Soil Physics and Director of the Hounsfield Facility at the University of Nottingham, University of Nottingham • conversation
Jan. 14, 2021 ~7 min

agriculture botany crops roots food-environment plant-growth

Killer cotton and planes dropping moths wiped out these pests

The invasive pink bollworm has inflicted tens of millions of dollars in damage annually. Biotech cotton and sterile moths helped eradicate it in the US.

Rose Brandt-Arizona • futurity
Dec. 22, 2020 ~7 min

insects pesticides genetic-engineering crops earth-and-environment cotton

Diversifying crops is a ‘win-win’

Farms with more diverse crops can benefit the environment while not sacrificing yields, new research finds. In many cases, yields went up, in fact.

Fred Love-Iowa State • futurity
Nov. 12, 2020 ~5 min

sustainability agriculture crops earth-and-environment

We found a way to turn urine into solid fertiliser – it could make farming more sustainable

If rolled out worldwide, our method could replace a quarter of all the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser used in agriculture.

Jenna Senecal, Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Engineering, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences • conversation
Nov. 6, 2020 ~7 min

agriculture recycling farming nitrogen crops toilets urine phosphorus fertiliser ammonia

When plants and their microbes are not in sync, the results can be disastrous

Just as humans can suffer from an imbalance of microbes in their gut, plants can suffer a similar syndrome in their leaves. This finding opens up new possibilities for improving food security.

Sheng-Yang He, University Distinguished Professor, HHMI Investigator, Michigan State University • conversation
Aug. 28, 2020 ~8 min

 agriculture  plants  microbiome  ecosystem  crops  microbiota  arabidopsis

Loss of bees threatens US crop yields

Declines in populations of bees and other pollinators threatens crop yields of apples, cherries, and blueberries in the US, researchers say.

Todd Bates-Rutgers • futurity
July 29, 2020 ~4 min

conservation bees food pollinators crops earth-and-environment

Crop pathogens are more adaptable than previously thought

Fungi and other organisms called oomycetes are highly adaptable. That's bad news for the global food supply.

Antonis Rokas, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences, Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Informatics, and Director of the Vanderbilt Evolutionary Studies Initiative, Vanderbilt University • conversation
June 23, 2020 ~5 min

evolution climate-change yeast plants fungi crops food-security plant-pathogen

How a new biotech rule will foster distrust with the public and impede progress in science

A new biotech regulation allows companies to self-police and decide which crops should be regulated. The new rule is likely to amplify greater distrust of GM crops.

Maywa Montenegro, UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Davis • conversation
June 1, 2020 ~10 min

 biotechnology  genetically-modified-crops  gm-food  gm-crops  genetically-modified-plants

Ethicists: We need more flexible tools for evaluating gene-edited food

What criteria should be used to determine whether a food is natural? What if gene-editing techniques produce changes indistinguishable from those that evolve naturally? Is the food still natural?

Trine Antonsen, Resarch Scientist at GenØk Centre for Biosafety and Associate Professor, University of Tromsø • conversation
May 26, 2020 ~8 min

gene-editing organic genetically-modified-organisms species genetically-modified-crops natural genetically-modified

U.S. farm workers will see unsafe hot days double by 2050

“I was surprised by the scale of the change—seeing a doubling of unsafe days by mid-century, then a tripling by 2100. And we think that’s a low estimate.”

Hannah Hickey-UW • futurity
May 4, 2020 ~7 min

climate-change agriculture crops temperature earth-and-environment health-and-medicine