• How Can We Reduce Food Waste?

    It’s no secret that Americans throw away an enormous amount of food, sending day-old leftovers and slightly wilted spinach straight to the garbage. But what about the food that never even makes it to the kitchen table? A new report released by a British engineering society reveals that worldwide, billions of tons of food are squandered each year because of poor agriculture practices, which include inefficient harvesting and inadequate infrastructure and storage—and it’s depleting Earth's water supply. >> Read the Full Article
  • Invasive Striga Weed Serious Problem in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Rising soil temperatures are increasing the spread of a deadly, parasitic weed that significantly reduces crop yields in Sub-Saharan Africa, Striga, according to scientists. The noxious weed, also known as witch-weed, usually thrives in the warm and humid tropics but is now spreading to cooler and wetter highlands as a result of warmer soils driven by global warming and low soil fertility, which provides the right conditions for Striga to thrive. Increasing soil temperatures are fuelling the spread of Striga from the tropics to highland areas The deadly weed can reduce crops by up to 80 per cent, threatening livelihoods Research organisations are trialling various strategies, such as intercropping, to combat its spread This spread has threatened the livelihoods of around 100 million people, with more than four million hectares of maize crops infected. In general, Striga reduces maize and cowpea yields by up to 80 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa. >> Read the Full Article
  • Desert bacteria could help boost crop yields

    Desert soil microbes could help halt desertification and boost agriculture in arid regions of the Middle East and North Africa, according to a study. Scientists from the United Arab Emirates [UAE] have isolated local salt- and drought-tolerant strains of Rhizobia, soil bacteria that fix nitrogen when they become established inside the root nodules of legumes. >> Read the Full Article
  • Study Suggests Plants Can Be Altruistic Too

    Altruism is the behavior that exudes the selfless concern of one to benefit the well being of another at one's own expense. In the animal kingdom, some of these altruistic notions can be when a dog raises orphaned cats or squirrels or when Vervet monkeys will warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators even though their alarm call will increase their own chances of being attacked. However, altruism is not only linked to humans and members of the animal kingdom - according to a study from the University of Colorado Boulder, research suggests that some plants may also have an altruistic side. >> Read the Full Article
  • Planting Trees Helps Fight Climate Change, but mainly locally

    Afforestation, planting trees in an area where there have previously been no trees, can reduce the effect of climate change by cooling temperate regions, finds a study in BioMed Central's open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. Afforestation would lead to cooler and wetter summers by the end of this century. Without check climate change is projected to lead to summer droughts and winter floods across Europe. Using REMO, the regional climate model of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, researchers tested what would happen to climate change in 100 years if land currently covered in non-forest vegetation was converted into deciduous forest. This equates to more than a doubling of forest in Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Northern Ukraine, Northern Germany and France. But in already heavily forested countries such as Sweden the increase is smaller, at less than 10%. >> Read the Full Article
  • Costa Rican scientists trial aquatic agriculture to boost food security

    Costa Rican researchers are pioneering 'aquatic agriculture' — the method of growing crops on freshwater lakes and reservoirs — to boost food security in the developing world. The technique involves creating floating rafts on which vegetables, grains and flowers can be grown. Terrestrial crops such as grains and vegetables have their roots directly in the water or can be potted, with water being drawn up into their soil from the lake by capillary wicks, Ricardo Radulovich, a professor at the University of Costa Rica's Department of Agricultural Engineering, explains. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Great Stink Bug

    Oregon State University is studying how to use bug-on-bug warfare to stop this crop-damaging pest. The insect arrived in the eastern United States in the late 1990s and has since spread to more than 30 states. This non-native bug was found in Portland in 2004 and has since shown up in 13 Oregon counties, including all of the Willamette Valley. The pest has caused major commercial crop damage in many eastern states but so far it has had minimal impact on Northwest crops. >> Read the Full Article
  • Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food

    While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or "fracking") operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil. Last year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cargill Cattle Plant Closes, Global Warming contributing factor?

    It sounds a bit like justice served, doesn't it? When Cargill announced the closing of its Plainview, Texas, cattle operation, they cited a record low cattle supply as the result of the region's severe drought. Though scientific models don't yet have the precision to directly tie a particular weather event, be it a storm or a drought, to global warming trends, there is plenty of evidence indicating that drought is clearly increasing as the result of the changing climate. >> Read the Full Article
  • Farming Techniques Must Improve to Counter Increasingly Warmer Summers

    Global climate change is causing average temperatures to rise and producing more extreme highs during the summer months, months that are crucial for a successful crop yield. According to a new study from the University of Leeds, Reading, and Exeter, hotter summers may cause a decrease in crop yields over the next two decades. The only thing that can prevent it will be to improve farming techniques to counter the trend. >> Read the Full Article