New plant protection product approved for use in record time

UK herb growers will be able to protect their crops with a new weed control product in record time, following successful trials as part of AHDB’s £1.4m crop protection project.
To achieve this approval so quickly, the team used intelligence from other EU countries, collaborating closely with other manufacturers and growers, to ensure trials on control products fulfil market needs and are likely to gain authorisation for use.

Pregnancy test science could protect the Christmas sprout

The science behind the home-pregnancy test is now being trialled to detect the presence of diseases, which can devastate fields of vegetable crops, including the Christmas sprout.

Trials are underway to help protect crops of Brassicas – sprouts, broccoli, cabbage – and onions, which generated more than £356 million for UK agriculture last year. Diseases including ring spot, light leaf spot and downy mildew are being monitored.

Double dose for bees

In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, a team of researchers from Italy and the US record their study of the effects on honey bees of agriculture that exposes the insects to both poor nutrition (low quality nectar) and pesticides (neonicotinoids).

“Our results provide the first demonstration that these stressors can synergistically interact and cause significant harm to animal survival,” report the researchers. “These findings have implications for pesticide risk-assessment and pollinator protection, and emphasise the importance of nutrition.”

Why I am excited about this Collaborative Training Partnership?

By Carly Stevens

There are lots of reasons why we enter our chosen professions but for a lot of scientists working within the field of environmental science a big motivator is that we want to ‘make a difference’. We know that we aren’t going to single handily save the planet but we would like to achieve something that changes how things are done, whether it is policy or practice on a large scale or a small one, we want to have some kind of impact. That is what really excites me about the Waitrose Agronomy Group Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP), it offers an amazing opportunity to make a difference.

Agriculture needs a champion

Research investment in the life sciences has focused too much on medicine and biomedicine at the expense of agriculture and biotechnology more generally, acknowledges Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive & Director of the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre in London.

“One has only to take a short trip in this country to see how important agriculture is,” said Nurse, speaking today at Rothamsted Research after he had delivered a livestreamed talk on “Science as Revolution”, introduced by the institute’s chief Achim Dobermann in a crowded conference centre.

The illegal wild orchid trade

Large-scale commercial trade of wild orchids is a pressing, but little-recognised conservation problem, according to researchers.

Orchids are one of the largest families of flower plants in the world, and – on paper – they are among the most well protected.

From edible orchid cake in Tanzania and ornamental orchids in Thailand and Brazil, to medicinal orchids in Nepal, these plants are highly sought after commodities.