Less lightning in a warmer world

Lightning may strike less often in future across the globe as the planet warms, a scientific study suggests.

The research forecasts a 15% drop in the average number of lightning flashes worldwide by the turn of this century, if global temperatures are in the top range of forecasts.

Sweet way to greater yields

Three years ago, biotechnologists demonstrated in field trials that they could increase the productivity of maize by introducing a rice gene into the plant that regulated the accumulation of sucrose in kernels and led to more kernels per maize plant.

They knew that the rice gene affected the performance of a natural chemical in maize, trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P), which influences the distribution of sucrose in the plant. But they were keen to discover more intimate details of the relationships governing the increased productivity.

“Now we know far more about how this yield effect has been achieved,” says Matthew Paul, who led the Anglo-American team from Rothamsted Research and Syngenta, a biotechnology company that also funded the work. The team’s findings are published today in Plant Physiology.

Zambian farmers benefit from millions in insurance pay-outs thanks to Reading data

Millions of dollars are due to be paid out to small-scale farmers in Zambia affected by a recent severe dry spell, following the introduction of a new government insurance scheme powered by University of Reading science.

Satellite-based rainfall estimates for Africa produced by the University’s TAMSAT research group have allowed around US$2.8m to be triggered for farmers in 370 locations in Zambia between December 1 2017 and 20 January 2018.

Precision agriculture research collaboration aims to help Chinese smallholder farmers

China’s North Plain is one of the country’s most important – and densely populated – agricultural regions, producing crops such as corn, cereals, vegetables and cotton. A research project led by the James Hutton Institute and China Agriculture University aims to support smallholder farmers in the area through precision agriculture techniques.

Diamondback moths discovered overwintering in Somerset

Scientists have found diamondback moth (DBM) caterpillars surviving in UK Brassica crops this winter and are recommending growers check their own crops for the pest now.

Previously considered a migratory pest, recent research from AHDB indicated that diamondback moths could be surviving UK winters.

AHDB’s Dawn Teverson, and Rosemary Collier from Warwick Crop Centre have been out in the field hunting for the caterpillars and found the pest on the underside of leaves in un-netted swede crops, located in the south west of England.

New field station makes space for innovative crop science

A new facility to assist advances in crop science is taking shape in the Norfolk countryside.

The field experimental station at Church Farm, Bawburgh, will allow scientists at the John Innes Centre to carry out ground-breaking research in crop improvements.

Bringing together lab and field research in one location will further research in understanding how genes control plant growth in the field.