Native plants need re-seeding after rhododendron removal, study finds

Native plants need a helping hand if they are to recover from invasive rhododendron, Scottish ecologists have discovered. A new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology reveals that – even at sites cleared of rhododendron 30 years ago – much native flora has still not returned. As a result, rhododendron eradication programmes may need to be supplemented by reseeding for the original plant community to re-establish.

‘Lost city’ used 500 years of soil erosion to benefit crop farming

Researchers at the University of York working on a 700-year old abandoned agricultural site in Tanzania have shown that soil erosion benefited farming practices for some 500 years.

The study, published in Quaternary Research, shows that historical practices of capturing soils that were eroded from the hillside could be valuable to modern day farming techniques.

Photosynthesis breakthrough

Researchers have increased plant productivity by boosting levels of three proteins involved in photosynthesis, offering hope for improving food crops

In field trials, the scientists saw 14–20% increases in the productivity of their modified tobacco plants, according to the new study published in the journal Science.

Crop protection research secured at Rothamsted

© Rothamsted ResearchRothamsted Research has secured government funding to kick-start its new five-year strategic programme, Smart Crop Protection (SCP), to control sustainably the pests, pathogens and weeds that destroy nearly a third of crops grown worldwide. The investment of circa £6.3 million covers the programme’s first three years.

Blueberry breeding consortium launched in Dundee

© James Hutton InstituteA Blueberry Breeding Consortium including members from three European countries held its inaugural meeting at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee yesterday.

The new consortium will fund a blueberry breeding programme which will deliver new and improved blueberry varieties, suited to European growing conditions and carrying traits desirable to growers, retailers and consumers. It has been set up and is managed by the Institute’s commercial subsidiary company, James Hutton Limited.

Dramatic changes needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change

© James Hutton InstituteMajor changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change, according to research published by a scientific consortium including the James Hutton Institute