Current Farmers News and Events

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Genomic insights into the origin of pre-historic populations in East Asia
East Asia today harbours more than a fifth of the world's population and some of the most deeply branching modern human lineages outside of Africa. However, its genetic diversity and deep population history remain poorly understood relative to many other parts of the world. In a new study, a team of international researchers analyzes genome-wide data for 166 ancient individuals spanning 8,000 years and 46 present-day groups, and provides insights into the formation of East Asian populations. (2021-02-22)

The 20 best places to tackle US farm nitrogen pollution
A pioneering study of U.S nitrogen use in agriculture has identified 20 places across the country where farmers, government, and citizens should target nitrogen reduction efforts. The 20 nitrogen ''hotspots of opportunity''--which appear on a striking map--represent a whopping 63% of the total surplus nitrogen balance in U.S. croplands, but only 24% of U.S. cropland area. Nitrogen inputs are so high in these areas that farmers can most likely reduce nitrogen use without hurting crop yields. (2021-02-16)

Multi-model approach could help farmers prepare for, contain PEDV outbreaks
Researchers used a three-model approach to trace the between-farm spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), as well as to analyze the efficacy of different control strategies in these scenarios. (2021-02-11)

Finding the best targets to improve crop yield by following CO2 journey inside the leaf
A team of scientists have measured the relative importance of the different obstacles that carbon dioxide (CO2) encounters in its voyage from the atmosphere to the interior of plant cells, where it is converted into sugars. This research leading method provides much needed information that will help to increase the yield of important food crops such as cowpea, soybean and cassava. (2021-02-11)

Cataloguing genetic information about yams
New collection of resources will help yam breeders and farmers. (2021-02-10)

Changing cropping systems in impaired watersheds can produce water quality gains
Growing the right crop in the right place within an impaired watershed can achieve significant water quality improvements, according to Penn State researchers, who conducted a novel study in the drainage of a Susquehanna River tributary in an agricultural area in southeastern Pennsylvania. (2021-02-09)

Climate change: Erratic weather slows down the economy
If temperature varies strongly from day to day, the economy grows less. Through these seemingly small variations climate change may have strong effects on economic growth. This shows data analyzed by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Columbia University and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). In a new study in Nature Climate Change, they juxtapose observed daily temperature changes with economic data from more than 1,500 regions worldwide over 40 years - with startling results. (2021-02-08)

Variable weather makes weeds harder to whack
From flooded spring fields to summer hailstorms and drought, farmers are well aware the weather is changing. It often means spring planting can't happen on time or has to happen twice to make up for catastrophic losses of young seedlings. According to a joint study between University of Illinois and USDA-ARS, it also means common pre-emergence herbicides are less effective. (2021-02-08)

Human-elephant conflict in Kenya heightens with increase in crop-raiding
A new study led by the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) has found that elephants living around the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, are crop-raiding closer to the protected area, more frequently and throughout the year but are causing less damage when doing so. (2021-02-04)

CABI study updates safer options for fall armyworm control in Africa
CABI scientists have updated the first major study of potential biological controls that could be used in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm in Africa. The research offers new insight into evidence of their efficacy in the field and increased availability as commercial products. (2021-02-03)

The business of bees
The economic value of insect pollinators was $34 billion in the U.S. in 2012, much higher than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University. The team also found that areas that are economically most reliant on insect pollinators are the same areas where pollinator habitat and forage quality are poor. (2021-02-03)

Livestock workers face high MRSA risk
For Michigan State University's Felicia Wu, the surprise isn't that people who work with livestock are at higher risk of picking up antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but instead how much higher their risk levels are. (2021-01-28)

Soil health is as environmentally important as air and water quality, say microbiologists
Healthy, sustainably managed soil is a critical ecosystem for continuous sustenance of plants, animals and humans globally. While the concept of 'soil health' still continues to evolve, the versatility of the concept allows its adoption by many stakeholders. (2021-01-26)

Integrated disease management saves olive trees from Verticillium wilt
The University of Cordobas's Agronomy Department (abbreviated to DAUCO in Spanish) reduced the occurrence of Verticillium wilt in a commercial olive plantation by applying an Integrated Disease Management strategy. (2021-01-25)

Flowery diets help predatory insects help farmers keep pests in check
Predatory insects have been shown to live longer when they have access to nectar and pollen, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. Thus, flowers don't just benefit insects, they help farmers farm sustainably. Predatory insects are skilled pest controllers whose hunting reduces the need for agricultural pesticides. (2021-01-22)

Advances in modeling and sensors can help farmers and insurers manage risk
A review of index insurance for smallholder farmers shows the potential of high-resolution satellite imagery to help poor farmers be compensated for potentially devastating losses. (2021-01-21)

Stealing the spotlight in the field and kitchen
New dry beans from UC Davis combine desirable qualities for both farmers and consumers (2021-01-20)

Soil degradation costs U.S. corn farmers a half-billion dollars every year
One-third of the fertilizer applied to grow corn in the U.S. each year simply compensates for the ongoing loss of soil fertility, leading to more than a half-billion dollars in extra costs to U.S. farmers every year, finds new research from the University of Colorado Boulder. (2021-01-12)

No-till practices in vulnerable areas significantly reduce soil erosion
Soil erosion is a major challenge in agricultural production. It affects soil quality and carries nutrient sediments that pollute waterways. While soil erosion is a naturally occurring process, agricultural activities such as conventional tilling exacerbate it. Farmers implementing no-till practices can significantly reduce soil erosion rates, a new University of Illinois study shows. (2021-01-12)

Cattle grazing and soybean yields
Each corn harvest leaves behind leaves, husks and cobs. Research shows cattle can take advantage of this food resource without damaging field productivity. (2021-01-06)

Flag leaves could help top off photosynthetic performance in rice
A team from the University of Illinois and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) found that some flag leaves of different varieties of rice transform light and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates better than others, potentially opening new opportunities for breeding higher yielding rice varieties. (2020-12-29)

Light signal emitted during photosynthesis used to quickly screen crops
University of Illinois researchers have revealed a new approach to estimate the photosynthetic capacity of crops to pinpoint their top-performing traits and speed up the plant screening process, according to a new study in the Journal of Experimental Botany(2020-12-21)

Discovering gaps in food safety practices of small Texas farms
A survey of small farmers in Texas identifies a significant gap in food safety protocols and resources, increasing the risk of produce contamination and foodborne illness. Very few small growers - most of whom are not required to follow federal food safety guidelines - have previous food safety training, according to the study. (2020-12-15)

Success in the Amazon
In 2006, Greenpeace launched a campaign exposing deforestation caused by soy production in the Brazilian Amazon. In the previous year, soy farming expanded into more than 1,600 square kilometers of recently cleared forests. The destruction, they said, had to stop. (2020-12-14)

Tanzania farmers distrust fertilizer quality, are less willing to pay for it
Smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa use fertilizer well below recommended rates, contributing to consistently low agricultural productivity. A new study from the University of Illinois finds farmers have misconceptions about fertilizer quality and suggests those misconceptions are a major reason for low application rates. (2020-12-11)

Roadmap offers solutions for future of food, global ag innovation
To deflect future world food crises created by climate change, a Cornell University-led international group has created a road map for global agricultural and food systems innovation. (2020-12-10)

'Rambo root' could help with climate action, peace building and environmental issues
Planting cassava can help countries tackle key environmental and sustainable development concerns. The low-cost root crop, nicknamed 'Rambo root' for its rugged appearance and resilient attributes, produces the highest amount of calories per hectare in most tropical countries, can withstand increasing temperatures and thrives in poor soils. (2020-12-09)

Hotspots of cheetah activity is a key to solving the cheetah-farmer conflict in Namibia
New insights into the cheetah's spatial behaviour provide a viable solution to the human-wildlife conflict: In the core areas of male cheetah territories, all local males and females frequently meet to exchange information. Moving their breeding herds out of these hotspots, farmers reduced livestock losses by more than 80 percent. These insights are the result of a close cooperation between scientists from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and farmers in central Namibia. (2020-12-07)

Keeping California a powerhouse of almond production
Research shows nitrogen efficiency and productivity not a tradeoff. (2020-12-02)

Danish researchers develop budget optical ammonia sensor
In collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the Department of Engineering at Aarhus University has developed photonic sensor technology that can pave the way for a portable, reliable and, above all, inexpensive device for detecting ammonia and other gases in agriculture. The new technology has been developed as part of the Ecometa project, which has received DKK 12.5 million funding from Innovation Fund Denmark. (2020-12-01)

Bridges between villages in Nicaragua serve as links to markets
Yale Economic Growth Center researcher Kevin Donovan and coauthor find that building footbridges positively affects rural economies in flood-prone areas. (2020-11-30)

Poverty and honesty are not opposites
Does poverty cause lying? An international research team led by behavioral economist Agne Kajackaite from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Suparee Boonmanunt (Mahidol University, Bangkok) and Stephan Meier (Columbia Business School) examined whether poverty-stricken individuals were especially prone to acts of dishonesty. The researchers ran a field experiment with rice farmers in Thailand which incentivized cheating during a card game. They found that poverty itself did not cause individuals to act dishonestly. (2020-11-27)

Pesticide deadly to bees now easily detected in honey
A common insecticide that is a major hazard for honeybees is now effectively detected in honey thanks to a simple new method. (2020-11-24)

Better than money? In-kind payments incentivize farmers to conserve agrobiodiversity
An innovative payment scheme for ecosystem services successfully encouraged farmers to cultivate and conserve agrobiodiversity, according to a new study of eight years of implementation in Latin America (2020-11-16)

Cassava may benefit from atmospheric change more than other crops
A team from the University of Illinois and Monash University studied how the root crop cassava, which feeds over 1 billion people, will adapt to the amount of carbon dioxide expected by the second half of this century. (2020-11-11)

Governments can curb over-fertilisation
Many countries could be using less nitrogen fertiliser in their agriculture without compromising their crop yields, as an international research team headed up by ETH scientists David Wüpper and Robert Finger are demonstrating. (2020-11-11)

Study: crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields
Diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields, according to a new study that analyzed thousands of previously conducted experiments. Diversification practices such as crop rotations and planting prairie strips can lead to 'win-win' results that protect the environment without sacrificing yields, according to the analysis. (2020-11-10)

The ecology of crop pests
Ecological theory provides insights on pesticide use in agriculture (2020-11-09)

Ants are skilled farmers: They have solved a problem that we humans have yet to
Ants have been farmers for tens of millions of years and successfully solved a riddle that we humans have yet to. A new study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen reports that ants are pros at cultivating climate-resilient crops. (2020-11-04)

Fighting food fraud from farm to fork with a mobile ingredient tracing system
Savvy shoppers increasingly expect to know the origin of the food they eat, whether they shop at farmers' markets or big-box major retailers. A prototype app proposed by researchers at the University of Tokyo aims to provide full transparency from farm to table along food supply chains and meet the needs of smallholder farmers, boutique producers, and industrial growers. (2020-11-02)

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