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The Science and Development Network aims to provide reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world. Their goal is to help both individuals and organizations in developing countries make informed decisions about how science and technology can improve economic and social development.
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Nitrogen fixation helps double some African farm yields
November 5, 2013 08:59 AM - Joris Tielens, SciDevNet
A large-scale research and development project has shown that giving farmers resources and advice on nitrogen fixation through legume plants can double yields and boost incomes in Africa. But not all farmers are benefiting from this practice due to a lack of access to inputs, such as fertilizers says Ken Giller, the leader of the N2Africa project, as a second phase to widen access to the initiative is announced with US$25.3 million funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the next five years.
Impacts of climate change on soils
November 1, 2013 06:13 AM - Ollivier Girard/CIFOR, SciDevNet
The increased aridity expected this century as a result of climate change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds. The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have serious effects on ecosystem services such as food production, carbon storage and biodiversity, according to the Nature paper published today.
Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands
October 31, 2013 11:36 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
The increased aridity expected this century as a result of change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds. The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have serious effects on ecosystem services such as food, carbon storage and biodiversity, according to the Nature paper published today.
Kazakhstan nuclear test site clean up success
October 27, 2013 08:32 AM - Paul Lowe / Panos, SciDevNet
A Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan was cleaned up through a collaborative international project that could provide lessons for tackling other dangerous nuclear sites across the globe, a report reveals. The report, entitled 'Plutonium Mountain', documents how international scientific cooperation was important for securing nuclear waste from the site. It was released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, United States. The Semipalatinsk test site, which spans an area about the size of Belgium, lies in a remote part of eastern Kazakhstan. It embodied the post-Cold War risk of 'loose nukes' -- the threat that terrorists or rogue states could obtain nuclear fissile materials — according to the report.
Lack of nanotech regulations leaves developing world exposed
October 25, 2013 01:18 PM - Lou Del Bello, SciDevNet
Nanotechnology is a promising field, but a lack of regulation means there is uncertainty over the safety of its implementation, particularly in developing countries. This week I received some unexpected insights on nanotechnology and its relationship with industry in different parts of the world.
A ground-breaking, legally-binding global treaty on reducing mercury pollution has been signed by 92 countries. The treaty spells "the beginning of the end of mercury as a threat to human health and the environment", UN Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner, told a diplomatic meeting in Japan earlier this month (10-11 October) where the treaty was signed. But much work remains to provide the funding and technical and scientific advice needed to implement the treaty, and to expand mercury monitoring capacity worldwide, experts say.
Record temperatures set to reach tropics first
October 10, 2013 03:21 PM - Diane Desotelle, MN Sea Grant, SciDevNet
Tropical regions will be the first to experience unprecedented climate change, leading to significant upheaval for biodiversity and communities, according to a study published in Nature today. Regions near the equator will be subject to mean temperatures hotter than anything experienced on record an average of 15 years before the rest of the world, putting a strain on their rich biodiversity, which is adapted to stable climate conditions, finds the study.
Microbes vs. Genetic Modification
October 7, 2013 09:31 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Adapting microbes that dramatically increase crop yields while reducing demand for fertilizers and pesticides through selective breeding or genetic engineering could be cheaper and more flexible than genetically modifying plants themselves, says an author of a report. Microbes, such as beneficial bacteria, fungi and viruses, could be produced locally for smallholder farmers to significantly improve food security and incomes in developing regions, believes Ann Reid, director of the American Academy of Microbiology and co-author of a report published by the organization.
Climate models need to get small
October 5, 2013 07:27 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Better observational data and geographically precise climate models are needed to allow scientists to predict the effects of rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a local level, says a major climate change report. Deficiencies in these areas prevent reliable temperature and rainfall predictions being made on a regional scale, according to the report published this week (30 September) by Working Group I of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Switch to organic farming may boost yields and incomes
October 1, 2013 08:58 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Switching to organic and resource-conserving methods of farming can improve smallholder crop yields, food security and income, a review study has found. But a more-extensive evidence base founded on rigorous and consistent research methods is needed before the findings can be generalised to other situations, according to the study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. "The findings show at the farm level it [organic farming] appears to be very positive — more than many people think," says Steve Franzel, an agricultural economist at the World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya, co-author of the study.