A new research initiative led by Scotland’s James Hutton Institute is set to explore innovative mixed-species crop systems, or ‘plant teams’, in a drive to tackle a global challenge: how to feed a growing population from finite resources without wrecking our planet. The €5m DIVERSify project, short for ‘Designing InnoVative plant teams for Ecosystem Resilience and agricultural Sustainability’, aims to optimise the performance of cereals grown with legumes.
Legumes are a very special type of crop; they are not only a source of highly nutritious food and feed but legumes require no inorganic nitrogen fertiliser, which means they have major advantages as a more sustainable crop. Despite their benefits, legume-based farming systems have not become common practice as they are seen as being less profitable.
This may soon change however, owing to a new research initiative led by scientists at the James Hutton Institute, working with colleagues from European organisations. The “TRansition paths to sUstainable legume-based systems in Europe” (TRUE) research project aims to identify how society may transition to sustainable legume-based farming systems and agricultural feed and food networks.
As Waitrose extends its successful FareShare trial to 25 branches in total this month, it has today announced it will make funds and Partner (employee) volunteers available to local groups using the IT platform to collect surplus food from the retailer.
In a supermarket first, as part of the tie up, groups which collect surplus food will be offered funds from the Waitrose Community Matters (green tokens) scheme which donates money to local good causes, as well as volunteers from its shops.
One of biology’s most charismatic relationships, credited with helping plants to colonise land more than 400 million years ago, has yielded a fundamental survival secret with implications for agriculture and biotechnology.
Plant scientists have discovered that a particular form of fungi, which invades plant roots and then helps the colonised plants to absorb nutrients from soil, receive life-sustaining carbon from their symbiotic hosts in the form of long-chain fatty acids, a building block for essential lipids.
Researchers from Cranfield University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew have constructed the metabolic fingerprint of British heritage apples and mainstream commercial varieties. This has highlighted the extraordinary phytochemical content of some very old apples, with dates of introduction spanning several centuries.
The results show key metabolites, with enhanced health promoting properties, have gradually been bred out from modern cultivars with the focus instead being on sweetness, crispy texture and appearance.