Forgot to water that plant on your desk again? It may soon be able to send out an SOS.
Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA) have created sensors that can be printed onto plant leaves and reveal when the plants are experiencing a water shortage. This kind of technology could not only save neglected houseplants but, more importantly, give farmers an early warning when their crops are in danger, says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the senior author of the new study.
Timing the harvest and transport of highly perishable, hand-picked crops such as strawberries so these delicate products reach consumers at peak flavor and freshness is an intricate dance that partners Mother Nature with manual labor.
However, many of the “smart farming” techniques and technologies that help growers harvest more of what they sow faster and more efficiently have focused primarily on row crops like corn and soybeans, bypassing growers of high-value fresh produce.
The small but mighty chickpea packs a dietary and environmental punch. They are an important source of nutrition, especially protein, for billions of people across the world. Additionally, bacteria that live in root nodules of chickpea plants pull in atmospheric nitrogen, increasing soil productivity.
But breeding new varieties of chickpeas with desirable traits – such as increased resistance to diseases and pests – is difficult. In fact, it is “tedious and inefficient,” says Thomas Stefaniak, a researcher at North Dakota State University (USA).
New research from North Carolina State University (NC State; USA) delves into the movement and evolution of the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which set down roots in the United States before attacking Europe.
Researchers have sequenced the genome of the whitefly (Bemisia tabici), an invasive insect responsible for spreading plant viruses worldwide, causing billions of dollars in crop losses each year.
The genome study, led by Associate Professor Zhangjun Fei of the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI; USA), offers many clues to the insect’s remarkable ability to resist pesticides, transmit more than 300 plant viruses, and to feed on at least 1,000 different plant species. Published in the journal BMC Biology, the study will serve as a foundation for future work to combat this global pest.
With an innovative modeling approach, researchers set out to examine corn and soybean yields and optimal nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates. In their study, recently published in Frontiers in Plant Science, they uses a 16-year long-term dataset from central Iowa, USA, with a state-of-the-art simulator that modeled corn and soybean yields, improving predictions of optimal N fertilizer rates for corn. This has global relevance for food security and sustainable agricultural practices in light of future climate change scenarios.