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Nature doubles down on climate warming

A new study shows regions are more often simultaneously experiencing hot and dry conditions

A warming climate is causing weather woes to hit both harder and further. Stanford University scientists say hot and dry conditions are now regularly hitting multiple regions at the same time. These crop yield shrinking, food price destabilizing and environmentally catastrophic conditions are now twice as likely. Climate change has doubled the odds that a […] Read more

Citizens and scientists

Laypeople can help drive and expand agriculture research

An international team of researchers has published a paper highlighting the potential of citizen science to address pressing research challenges in agriculture and food systems. One key to capitalizing on such efforts, the researchers find, may be to build stronger ties between citizen science and agricultural extension efforts. “We define citizen science as research in […] Read more

Soil carbon goes with the flow

Lateral movement of carbon throughout landscapes is much more significant than thought

The carbon cycle isn’t just vertical — CO2 moving up and down between soil, plants and the atmosphere. New Michigan State University research published in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters, shows water moves massive amounts of carbon laterally through ecosystems — especially during floods. These findings — which analyzed more than 1,000 watersheds […] Read more

Energy crops a benefit

If the land isn’t growing cash crops give energy options a shot, say researchers

There’s always some section of a farm that’s perennially too wet, too dry, or just doesn’t produce. It may be time to give up and sow them down to something like shrub willow or switchgrass, perennial bioenergy crops. That’s according to a report tabled recently at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. […] Read more

Gene research could beef up the herd

Brazilian researchers identify 35 genes associated with various attributes

Most cattle-breeding programs have long concentrated on fast-growing traits in the calves. Now Brazilian researchers are targeting other traits, such as meat tenderness and the size of the rib-eye muscle area. They’re doing so by studying the genome of the Gir cattle breed, common in that country, and have identified 35 genes that are associated […] Read more

A dietary mismatch

Agriculture produces plenty of food, but not necessarily the right types

If everyone on the planet wanted to eat a healthy diet, there wouldn’t be enough fruit and vegetables to go around. A team of researchers at the University of Guelph compared global agricultural production with nutritionists’ consumption recommendations and found a drastic mismatch. “We simply can’t all adopt a healthy diet under the current global […] Read more

Space… the final farming frontier

Treatment with one plant hormone appears to make space farming possible

With scarce nutrients and weak gravity, growing potatoes on the moon or on other planets seems unimaginable. But the plant hormone strigolactone could make it possible, plant biologists from the University of Zurich have shown. The hormone supports the symbiosis between fungi and plant roots, thus encouraging plants’ growth — even under the challenging conditions […] Read more

Box it up

Researchers say ‘control boxes’ could limit nitrate run-off from tile drains

Tile drainage is a boon in a wet spring but it can also increase nitrate run-off into nearby waterways and eventually lakes and even the ocean. The answer, when the problem was first discovered in the 1980s, was to develop “edge of field” practices, keeping saturated strips of natural landscape near streams to remove nitrates, […] Read more

Pumping iron

This research project aims to boost iron in wheat varieties

Biofortified wheat could certainly make it easier to help some humans get proper nutrition. Biofortification is the process of naturally increasing the nutritional value of a crop. Unlike fortification, which might add a mineral like iron directly to something like bread dough, the goal of biofortification is to have the wheat naturally contain more iron. […] Read more

Milk protein could help cancer patients

Researchers say lactoferrin can help maintain appetite giving patients better outcomes

A major problem for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy is weight loss due to loss of appetite. There are many reasons for this, but one important one is that these types of cancer therapy destroy the delicate interplay between the senses of smell and taste that make food appealing. In a new paper published in the […] Read more