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Harvesting wild genes boosts resistance

A new method promises to make finding and using these genes much easier and faster

A global alliance of researchers has pioneered a new method to rapidly recruit disease-resistance genes from wild plants for transfer into domestic crops. The technique promises to revolutionize the development of disease-resistant varieties. The technique called AgRenSeq was developed by scientists at the John Innes Centre in Britain working with colleagues in Australia and the […] Read more


Prairie strips pack big benefit

Carefully siting natural habitat on a farm can more than offset the small losses from setting land aside

Modern agriculture’s large monoculture fields grow a lot of grain. The outputs can be measured both in dollars paid in the market and also in non-market costs, known as externalities. Soil, nutrients, groundwater, pollinators, wildlife diversity, and habitat (among other things) can be lost when crop yields are maximized. Now it appears that prairie strips […] Read more



Researchers create algorithm to predict PEDv outbreaks

The high-tech approach already has an 80 per cent accuracy rate

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an algorithm that could give pig producers advance notice of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreaks. The proof-of-concept algorithm has potential for use in real-time prediction of other disease outbreaks in food animals. PEDv is a virus that causes high mortality rates in preweaned piglets. The virus […] Read more


Responsible innovation key to ‘smart farming’

Researchers urge counting all the benefits and costs of new technology

Responsible innovation that considers the wider impacts on society is key to smart farming, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Agriculture is undergoing a technology revolution supported by policy-makers around the world. While smart technologies will play an important role in achieving improved productivity, critics have suggested that consideration of the […] Read more



New barley polysaccharide identified

A new barley compound could have a myriad of uses and even agronomic benefits

Australian researchers have discovered a new complex carbohydrate in barley, the first polysaccharide of its kind found in more than 30 years. Polysaccharides are a carbohydrate whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. The material has the potential to be used for many applications in food, medicine and cosmetics. The research […] Read more


Wild bees need stronger pesticide regulation

Pesticide regulations designed to protect honeybees fail to account for potential health threats to the full diversity of bee species that are even more important pollinators

Pesticide regulations designed to protect honeybees fail to account for potential health threats posed to other, even more important pollinators, according to a trio of research papers from the University of Guelph. As the global human population grows, and as pollinators continue to suffer declines caused by everything from habitat loss to pathogens, regulators need […] Read more



Chickens herald of the Anthropocene era

Consumption of chickens signals new geological epoch, according to research led by the University of Leicester

There’s a proposal to declare a new man-made geological period to be dubbed the “Anthropocene” in recognition of human influence. Research by scientist Carys Bennett of the University of Leicester suggests breeding and consumption of modern broiler chickens signals the shift. “As the most numerous terrestrial vertebrate species on the planet, with a biology shaped […] Read more


The irrational consumer

You probably won’t be surprised to learn a lot of decision-making is based on feelings rather than facts

Perceptions are crucial to people’s acceptance of a particular technology and therefore their willingness to become a consumer. While some consumer behaviours may seem irrational, their actions are actually quite predictable based on what’s known about how people solve problems. Prior to the introduction of scientific testing for toxicological risks, individuals relied on their senses […] Read more



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