In the news...

Soil fungi turn struggling wheat into ‘climate-smart’ crop with boosted nutrient uptake

October 30th, 2019

Introducing fungi to wheat boosted their uptake of key nutrients and could lead to new, ‘climate smart’ varieties of crops, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Leeds have demonstrated a partnership between wheat and soil fungi that could be utilized to develop new food crops and farming …

Cost-effective technology can enrich poor fields, increase yields close to 50%

October 11th, 2019

Smallholder poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is often linked to sandy soils, which hold little water and are low in nutrients. A new technology may be able to enrich fields and farmers without massive investments in irrigation and fertilizer.

Many farmers across sub-Saharan Africa try to coax crops out of sandy soils that are …

Connecting food waste and sanitation services can help African farmers

March 3rd, 2019 /

Across the continent less than 10% of the population is connected to a sewer system; with most households using some type of onsite sanitation technology (e.g. pit latrines or septic tanks). If not managed properly, untreated excreta can have serious human and environmental health impacts. But if managed adequately, human waste can offer many opportunities: …

Why massive effort needs to be put into growing trees on farms

December 4th, 2018 / The Conversation, UK

It’s now over 50 years since the world was first warned that resources were being used at an unsustainable rate. It has now been estimated that almost one quarter to one third of the world’s land is degraded to some extent.
Degradation refers to land that’s lost nutrients, or has changed …

‘Super crops’ could revolutionise agriculture in Africa, expert claims

June 27th, 2018 / Independent, UK

Super crops have the potential to revolutionise agriculture in Africa, a leading expert has claimed.
Hundreds of millions of pounds have been invested in new crops on the continent which are more nutritious and better resistant to disease with an improved ability to withstand severe flooding or drought.
From “scuba” rice which …

We need to talk about nutritious, valuable “forgotten” fruit

July 6th, 2017 / GFAR

African pears, bush mangoes, tree tomatoes and other “forgotten fruits” are neglected and underutilized species that originate from tropical regions of the world. These species have been cultivated by indigenous peoples for millennia, and are very high in minerals, nutrients and vitamins. They can not only provide famine and malnutrition …

Antioxidant-boosting GMO purple rice could decrease cancer and other health risks

July 6th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project

Researchers in China have developed a genetic engineering approach capable of delivering many genes at once and used it to make rice endosperm–seed tissue that provides nutrients to the developing plant embryo–produce high levels of antioxidant-boosting pigments called anthocyanins. The resulting purple endosperm rice holds potential for decreasing the …

Microbiomes could help plants grow, resist disease and make agriculture more sustainable

April 12th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Feeding a growing world population amidst climate change requires optimizing the reliability, resource use, and environmental impacts of food production.
One way to assist in achieving these goals is to integrate beneficial plant microbiomes—i.e., those enhancing plant growth, nutrient use efficiency, abiotic stress tolerance, and disease resistance—into agricultural production. Read …

Addressing smallholder farmers’ needs with green manure cover crops and agroforestry

January 30th, 2017 / Africa Rising

In Africa, mineral fertilizer remains a scarce, expensive, and risky resource for most smallholder farmers. On average, farmers use less than 10 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer; and many do not apply it at all. The price of fertilizer is 3-5 times higher in Africa than in Europe due to the …

Why boosting legume production will lift the gloom for African farmers

September 14th, 2016 / The Conversation, UK

Africa has the lowest use of nitrogen on its farmland compared to other regions of the world. This is because smallholder farmers have limited financial resources to buy fertilisers. Nitrogen is one of the most essential nutrients needed by plants for their growth, development and reproduction. Yet it is depleted …