Agriculture

Lending plants a hand to survive drought
June 26, 2017 09:44 AM - Australian National University

A research team led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found a new way to help plants better survive drought by enhancing their natural ability to preserve water.

The findings have helped some plants survive 50 per cent longer in drought conditions, and could eventually benefit major crops such as barley, rice and wheat, which are crucial to world food supplies.

Lending plants a hand to survive drought
June 26, 2017 09:44 AM - Australian National University

A research team led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found a new way to help plants better survive drought by enhancing their natural ability to preserve water.

The findings have helped some plants survive 50 per cent longer in drought conditions, and could eventually benefit major crops such as barley, rice and wheat, which are crucial to world food supplies.

New 3D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
June 23, 2017 03:59 PM - Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

As farmers survey their fields this summer, several questions come to mind: How many plants germinated per acre? How does altering row spacing affect my yields? Does it make a difference if I plant my rows north to south or east to west? Now a computer model can answer these questions by comparing billions of virtual fields with different planting densities, row spacings, and orientations.

Crops' sweet bribes for ants help them bear fruit
June 23, 2017 11:24 AM - University of Edinburgh

Flowering crops such as beans and cotton offer their sweetest nectar to recruit colonising ants.

This strategy balances their need for defence and to reproduce, research suggests.  

So-called ant-plants carefully manage the amount and sweetness of nectar produced on their flowers and leaves, a study shows.

This enables them to attract ants – which aggressively deter herbivores – while also luring insects that will spread pollen.

Crops' sweet bribes for ants help them bear fruit
June 23, 2017 11:24 AM - University of Edinburgh

Flowering crops such as beans and cotton offer their sweetest nectar to recruit colonising ants.

This strategy balances their need for defence and to reproduce, research suggests.  

So-called ant-plants carefully manage the amount and sweetness of nectar produced on their flowers and leaves, a study shows.

This enables them to attract ants – which aggressively deter herbivores – while also luring insects that will spread pollen.

How the popularity of sea cucumbers is threatening coastal communities
June 23, 2017 07:42 AM - University of British Columbia

Coastal communities are struggling with the complex social and ecological impacts of a growing global hunger for a seafood delicacy, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

“Soaring demand has spurred sea cucumber booms across the globe,” says lead author Maery Kaplan-Hallam, who conducted the research as a master’s student with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC.

Charting a better future for Africa
June 22, 2017 11:05 AM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Almost 25 percent of the world’s malnourished population lives in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where more than 300 million people depend on maize (corn) for much of their diet. The most widely-produced crop by harvested area in SSA, maize is also highly sensitive to drought. Because maize in this region is grown largely on rainfed rather than irrigated land, any future changes in precipitation patterns due to climate change could significantly impact crop yields. Assessing the likely magnitude and locations of such yield changes in the coming decades will be critical for decision makers seeking to help their nations and regions adapt to climate change and minimize threats to food security and to rural economies that are heavily dependent on agriculture.

Can the tobacco and fossil fuel industries be compared?
June 22, 2017 08:21 AM - University of Calgary

Are there similarities between the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry when it comes to legal liability? Could, for example, energy companies that rely on fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases be held accountable for the damage caused by climate change? Two researchers in the Faculty of Law have set out to answer these important questions.

Vibrations can be bad for farmers' backs
June 21, 2017 08:04 AM - University of Saskatchewan

Researcher Catherine Trask and recent master’s graduate Xiaoke Zeng have found that farmers experience prolonged “body shock” when riding horses or driving farming machinery on uneven terrain during an average workday. Whole body vibration is a major risk factor for developing back pain, they say.  

“Farmers are often unaware that body vibration from machinery use is a potentially harmful physical hazard,” said Trask, U of S Canada Research Chair in Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Health

Mathematical Biology Tackles Destructive Plant Virus
June 20, 2017 05:03 PM - NIMBioS

Plant diseases pose a serious threat to global food security, especially in developing countries, where millions of people depend on consuming what they harvest.

In sub-Saharan Africa, one plant disease in particular – maize lethal necrosis – is ravaging one of the region's preferred crops for food, feed and income. But understanding its biology in order to manage the disease is difficult because the disease arises from two viruses interacting – which is where mathematics comes into play.

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