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Microbes, new weapon against agricultural pests in Africa

April 26th, 2017 / IPS News, US

Microscopic soil organisms could be an environmentally friendly way to control crop pests and diseases and even protect agriculture against the impacts of climate change, a leading researcher says.
Africa is battling an outbreak of trans-boundary pests and diseases like the invasive South America fall armyworm (FAW), tomato leaf miner and …

Soil microbiome – research into practice

April 17th, 2017 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

The previous blog looked at the extraordinary complexity of life supported by soils, in particular healthy, productive soils. This is especially true in the rhizosphere, the soils directly affected by plant root secretions. Key functions modulated by microbes include plant nutrition through the release of inorganic phosphorous in soils, the …

Genetically engineered microbes make their own fertiliser

April 11th, 2017 / Science, US

Industrial fertilizers help feed billions of people every year, but they remain beyond the reach of many of the world’s poorest farmers. Now, researchers have engineered microbes that, when added to soil, make fertilizer on demand, producing plants that grow 1.5 times larger than crops not exposed to the bugs …

Discovery shows how PHR1, a key switch protein, controls plant response to low levels of phosphate

March 23rd, 2017 / ISAAA

Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have identified a key genetic switch that helps soil bacteria that lives on and inside plant roots to harvest phosphate, a vital nutrient for plant yield that is limited in global supply. The scientists show precisely how PHR1, a …

How healthy soils make for a healthy life

March 23rd, 2017 / The Conversation

The next time you bite into an apple, spare a thought for the soils that helped to produce it. Soils play a vital role, not just in an apple’s growth, but in our own health too. The formation of soil, pedogenesis, is a very slow process. Creating one millimetre …

CRISPR, microbes and more are joining the war against crop killers

March 17th, 2017 / Nature, UK

Resistance to conventional pesticides — among insects, weeds or microbial pathogens — is common on farms worldwide. CropLife International, an industry association based in Brussels, supports efforts that have counted 586 arthropod species, 235 fungi and 252 weeds with resistance to at least one synthetic pesticide (see ‘The rise of …

Unlocking the power of African soil microbes

March 17th, 2017 / Scientific American

Like the developed world, the African continent soil also harbors billions of beneficial soil bacteria that can be utilized to revolutionize African agriculture. And for many smallholder farmers across Africa who have few resources, microbe inoculants can open new opportunities. Such opportunities can range from increase in crop yields to …

The soil microbiome: enlisting an invisible army for food security

February 20th, 2017 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

Plants do not grow in isolation: even the smallest amount of soil is home to millions of very diverse microorganisms, mostly bacteria and fungi, which interact with plants and affect the way they grow and cope with environmental and biotic stresses.

These microbes have co-evolved with plants since they colonised …

Why microbes are key to solving Africa’s food security crisis

February 6th, 2017 / The Conversation, UK

Microbial-based solutions for agriculture are among some of the new innovations making waves in the sector in the developed world. The market for these products is valued at $2.3 billion globally). Biome Makers raised $2.2 million in seed funding in 2016 alone.
Microbes are tiny microscopic organisms such as bacteria and …

Why microbes are key to solving Africa’s food security crisis

January 31st, 2017 / The Conversation, UK

Microbial-based solutions, which are formulated from microbes, offer multiple benefits to crops. These include improved growth as well as protection from insects, drought and other climate-related extremities. The solutions also offer environmentally sustainable approaches to improved crops and productivity while ensuring the resilience of agricultural systems. Poncho®/VOTiVO® is an example …