In the news...

A crop that feeds billions freed from blight by CRISPR

November 6th, 2019

Bacteria that infect rice are thwarted by changes to rice genes involved in sugar transport.

Genome editing has made one of the world’s most important crops resistant to a devastating bacterial infection.

Bacterial blight, which is caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzae (Xoo), can slash farmers’ yields of rice, which is a staple food for billions …

Developing climate smart grain value chains in East Africa

October 31st, 2019

Grain demand is booming in East Africa – but supply is threatened by climate change

The grain sector, and its entire value chain, play an important role in enhancing food security, household incomes and job creation in East Africa. This is especially important given the rapidly increasing Sub-Saharan population. However, the …

Study shows bees on the farm may be more valuable than pesticides

October 10th, 2019

For European rapeseed farmers, honey bees buzzing around fields may outweigh the benefits of using pesticides to fight insect damage, French researchers said.

A four-year survey in France found higher yields and profits for rapeseed fields where there’s an abundance of pollinating insects, according to a study by agricultural researcher INRA and the …

Smarter fertilizers can reduce environmental contamination

July 9th, 2019 / Scientific American, US

To feed the world’s growing population, farmers need to increase crop yields. Applying more fertilizer could help. But standard versions work inefficiently and often harm the environment. Fortunately, products that are more ecologically sound – controlled-release fertilizers – are available and becoming increasingly …

CRISPR gene edited soybeans suited for hotter climates offer ‘enormous’ crop yield boost

July 9th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Chinese agricultural scientists using gene-editing technology have created new soybean mutants, which could lead to soybean crops in much warmer climates including South China and countries near the Equator.

To create the soybean mutants, research teams from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences knocked out two genes using the gene-editing tool known as …

Poor seeds affecting food production, say experts

April 9th, 2019 / The Star, Kenya

Director general  Eliud Kireger said the recycled seeds yield less than the newer hybrid seeds which the organisation has produced.

Research done by Karlo indicated that only 47 per cent of farmers were using the recommended seeds while fertiliser was being applied at 40 per cent of the accepted rates. Read …

Food security project supports model farmers in Ethiopia

January 23rd, 2019 / Addis Standard, Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s agriculture is complex, involving substantial variation in crops grown across the country’s regions and ecologies. And although there has been significant growth in the cultivation of cereal crops over the last decade, by international standards, yields are low, and overall production is highly susceptible to weather shocks, such as …

Bigger data, smaller farms: the role of big data in sustainable intensification

January 18th, 2019 / Foodtank

Farming, like any business, has a bottom line. At the end of the season, a farmer has to be able to account for the farm’s costs, subtract from the revenue, and determine whether or not the farm is profitable. Due to the number of variables involved in farming, however, calculating …

Genetically modified ‘shortcut’ boosts plant growth by 40%

January 7th, 2019 / BBC, UK

Scientists in the US have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials. 

The researchers say they have found a way of overcoming natural restrictions in the process of photosynthesis that limit crop productivity.

They believe the method could be used to significantly boost yields …

Small-scale urban agriculture results in high yields but requires judicious management of inputs to achieve sustainability

January 4th, 2019 / PNAS, US

Growing food in cities for human consumption could be one means of increasing global food supply in the face of rising population growth and global food security concerns. While previous studies have shown that urban agricultural systems are productive, few studies provide yield figures that incorporate data on the inputs …