Tag: agriculture

Filling the intercropping info gap

Two crops or one? Sometimes, growing two crops simultaneously on the same piece of land – called intercropping – can benefit farmers. But it needs careful planning and resource management.

In some parts of Africa, farmers intercrop sorghum – a grain – and peanuts. But they face a major information gap. There hasn’t been much research on optimal levels of fertilizer use for intercropping sorghum and peanuts in these areas.

A new study has filled this information gap. Researchers from Niger, Mali, and the United States have developed a method to help farmers determine how much fertiliser to apply when intercropping.

The global nitrate time-bomb

Researchers have quantified for the first time the long term threat to global drinking water posed by agricultural pollution trapped in the rocks beneath our feet.

In a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Lancaster University show that vast quantities of nitrate are stored in the rocky layer between our soils and the water table. Using modelling techniques they estimate that rocks contain up to 180 million tonnes of nitrate, twice the amount believed to be stored in soil.

Swapping where crops are grown could feed an extra 825 million people

Redrawing the global map of crop distribution on existing farmland could help meet growing demand for food and biofuels in coming decades, while significantly reducing water stress in agricultural areas, according to a new study. Published today in Nature Geoscience, the study is the first to attempt to address both food production needs and resource sustainability simultaneously and at a global scale.

The results show that “there are a lot of places where there are inefficiencies in water use and nutrient production,” says lead author Kyle Davis, a postdoctoral researcher with Columbia University‘s Earth Institute. Those inefficiencies could be fixed, he says, by swapping in crops that have greater nutritional quality and lower environmental impact.

Applications open for 2018 NIAB Faculty Fellowship

For early career researchers spanning plant and crop science and those in aligned areas such as pathology, entomology, bioinformatics, engineering and robotics: NIAB wishes to support outstanding early career researchers in applications for independent research fellowship such as:

Sugarcane could cut carbon

Abandoned sugarcane plantations across the tropics could offer us a realistic, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Ethanol produced from sugarcane has been one of the most successful short-term strategies to date in decarbonising energy supply, particularly in Brazil where the sugarcane ethanol system results in just 14% of the CO2 emissions of petroleum. In 2012 Brazil became the first country in which more bioethanol was used in cars than petroleum.

Leading scientists call for unified approach to plant and animal breeding

Unifying the approaches to plant and animal breeding through the use of genomic selection is crucial to achieving global food security, according to a team of world leading scientists.

In a paper published this week in the international journal Nature Genetics, scientists from NIAB, the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) assert that global collaboration and investment across the two disciplines is central to increasing agricultural productivity and resilience.