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What digital revolution? Hundreds of millions of farmers still cannot get online
In the first assessment of its kind, researchers found that small farmers across the globe have woefully low access to mobile networks and the internet. With 5G coming online, the digital divide may widen even more for the world's poor. (2020-11-02)

A loan for lean season
For farmers in rural Zambia, payday comes just once a year, at harvest time. This fact impacts nearly every aspect of their lives, but until now researchers hadn't realized the true extent. (2020-11-02)

Waste not, want not: recycled water proves fruitful for greenhouse tomatoes
In the driest state in the driest continent in the world, South Australian farmers are acutely aware of the impact of water shortages and drought. So, when it comes to irrigation, knowing which method works best is vital for sustainable crop development. (2020-10-29)

Water consumption for trees is calculated in order to design precision irrigation systems
A University of Cordoba and Spanish National Research Council research team validated an indicator based on using a tree's temperature to calculate relative water consumption at an almond tree plantation (2020-10-27)

The Darwinian diet: you are what you eat
Ant farmers in tropical forests respond to the nutritional needs of their fungus gardens. And just as in human agriculture, the needs of each partner become more specialized as the relationship evolves. (2020-10-26)

Aerial images detect and track food security threats for millions of African farmers
New research shows how a combination of imagery from mobile phones, drones and satellites can be used to clamp down on banana threats. The images of varying resolutions are fed into a platform 'trained' through machine learning to identify banana crops and analyze threats with 97% overall accuracy. (2020-10-22)

High social and ecological standards for chocolate
Worldwide demand for food from the tropics that meets higher environmental and social standards has risen sharply in recent years. Consumers often have to make ethically questionable decisions: products may be available through child labour, starvation wages or environmental destruction. Building on an interdisciplinary project in Peru, an international research team including Göttingen Univeristy published an overview on the transition to responsible, high-quality cocoa production. This 'Perspective' article appeared in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. (2020-10-19)

Biochar helps hold water, saves money
Biochar's benefits for long-term storage of carbon and nitrogen on American farms are clear, but new research from Rice University shows it can help farmers save money on irrigation as well. (2020-10-19)

During COVID, scientists turn to computers to understand C4 photosynthesis
When COVID closed down their lab, a team from the University of Essex turned to computational approaches to understand what makes some plants better adapted to transform light and carbon dioxide into yield through photosynthesis. Most plants use C3 photosynthesis, which is more common but not as efficient as C4. They uncovered clues as to how C4 crops are able to express key enzymes in specialized cells that increase photosynthetic efficiency. (2020-10-16)

More diversity needed in oil palm plantations
Growing global demand for palm oil has led to a rapid spread of oil palm monoculture plantations in South East Asia, often associated with the loss of habitats and biodiversity. Plantations are uniformly structured, offering little space for different species. Diversification using indigenous tree species can help. Researchers from the Universities of Göttingen and Jambi found diversification can be encouraged through information campaigns and free seedlings. Research was published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. (2020-10-14)

Sweetpotato biodiversity can help increase climate-resilience of small-scale farming
Sweetpotato biodiversity can help increase climate-resilience of small-scale farming, according to the findings of a study undertaken by researchers from IRD, CIRAD and the CGIAR center, the International Potato Center (CIP). The findings of this global analysis of the intraspecific diversity of the sweetpotato--one of the world's most important food crops, demonstrate the role of this genetic diversity in the productivity and resilience of food and agricultural systems in the face of climate change. (2020-10-14)

Illinois research links soil nitrogen levels to corn yield and nitrogen losses
What exactly is the relationship between soil nitrogen, corn yield, and nitrogen loss? Most farmers would be forgiven for assuming a straightforward linear relationship: more nitrogen, more grain yield, and maybe, more loss. That's the assumption many nitrogen management models are based on, but it turns out there's very little published science to back up that assumption. (2020-10-13)

Studies find even minimal physical activity measurably boosts health
Two research teams at UC San Diego School of Medicine sought to understand sedentary lifestyles, with one study finding that even light physical activity, including just standing, can benefit health, and the other that Americans are sitting too much. (2020-10-12)

Corn farmers can apply a fungicide just once to protect against foliar diseases
'Our findings suggest that Kentucky corn growers likely can rely on a more cost-effective single fungicide application at R1 for foliar disease management and improve return on fungicide investment rather than making multiple applications at different times,' said Bradley. (2020-10-05)

Harvesting vegetation on riparian buffers barely reduces water-quality benefits
Allowing farmers to harvest vegetation from their riparian buffers will not significantly impede the ability of those streamside tracts to protect water quality by capturing nutrients and sediment -- and it will boost farmers' willingness to establish buffers. (2020-10-02)

New research sheds light on the reluctance of farmers to adopt new technologies
Research from the University of Kent's School of Economics sheds new light on a long-standing obstacle to improving agricultural productivity in developing countries: the reluctance of small-scale farmers to adopt modern technologies because of the risks associated with them. (2020-10-01)

New interactive tool will help farmers contain the spread of clubroot
'ClubrootTracker is an interactive tool that will help farmers locate clubroot-infected areas and can be used by farmers, researchers, and industry and government representatives to share the clubroot status of their land,' explained Edel Pérez-López, one of the plant pathologists involved in the development of this tool. 'We believe that the ClubrootTracker will be a gamechanger on the management of clubroot disease both in Canada and worldwide.' (2020-09-28)

"New" lactic acid bacteria can make African camel milk safe
A research project headed by the Technical University of Denmark, DTU, has come up with the formula for a freeze-dried starter culture that African camel milk farmers can use to make safe, fermented milk products. (2020-09-22)

New research highlights impact of COVID-19 on food security in Kenya and Uganda
CABI scientists have conducted new research highlighting the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Kenya and Uganda with more than two-thirds of those surveyed having experienced economic hardship due to the pandemic. Dr Monica Kansiime led a team of researchers who discovered, from a random sample of 442 respondents, that the proportion of food insecure people increased by 38% and 44% in Kenya and Uganda respectively. (2020-09-21)

Farmer knowledge is key to finding more resilient crops in climate crisis
A new paper in Frontiers in Plant Science reviews the 'Seeds for Needs' approach that combines farmers' knowledge of resilient crops with 'elite' varieties identified by scientists. (2020-09-21)

Shift in West African wildmeat trade suggests erosion of cultural taboos
New research by the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) has demonstrated a clear fluctuation in the trade of wildmeat in and around the High Niger National Park in Guinea, West Africa. (2020-09-17)

Choosing the right cover crop to protect the soil
Research helps farmers pick the best cover crops to keep their soil and nutrients in the field. (2020-09-16)

Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Phosphorus is essential for agriculture, yet this important plant nutrient is increasingly being lost from soils around the world. The primary cause is soil erosion, reports an international research team led by the University of Basel. The study in the journal Nature Communications shows which continents and regions are most strongly affected. (2020-09-11)

Detecting soil-surface ozone early can help prevent damage to grapes and apples
Farmers and fruit growers report that climate change is leading to increased ozone concentrations on the soil surface in their fields and orchards, which can cause irreversible plant damage, reduce crop yields and threaten the food supply. Trisha Andrew and colleagues at UMass Amherst, writing in Science Advances, show that her lab's method of vapor-depositing conducting polymer ''tattoos'' on plant leaves can accurately detect and measure such ozone damage, even at low exposure levels. (2020-09-08)

Plant protein discovery could reduce need for fertilizer
Researchers have discovered how a protein in plant roots controls the uptake of minerals and water, a finding which could improve the tolerance of agricultural crops to climate change and reduce the need for chemical fertilisers. (2020-09-04)

Natural pest control saving billions
Biological control of insect pests - where 'natural enemies' keep pests at bay - is saving farmers in Asia and the Pacific billions of dollars, according to University of Queensland-led research. Dr Kris Wyckhuys from UQ's School of Biological Sciences said biological control involved the careful release of an exotic natural enemy from a pest's native habitat. (2020-09-03)

Climate change could increase rice yields
Research reveals how rice ratooning practices can help Japanese farmers increase rice yields. (2020-09-02)

Awareness raising alone is not enough
Too rarely do nature conservation initiatives or strategies announced by politicians lead to people changing their everyday behaviour. A German-Israeli research team led by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) has investigated the reasons for this. According to them, the measures do not sufficiently exploit the range of possible behavioural interventions and too rarely specify the target groups, they write in the journal Conservation Biology. (2020-09-01)

How weather affects crawfish harvests
To help inform farmers, researchers at Louisiana State University are the first to quantify how rainfall and temperature affect crawfish harvest yields. (2020-08-31)

Farmers' quick sale of poultry during outbreaks may increase deadly virus transmission
Small-scale poultry farmers in Vietnam tend to respond to viral outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) by rapidly selling their birds as a way to avoid financial loss, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. As these birds are commingled with other birds in markets and trading networks, this practice may increase the likelihood of widespread disease transmission. (2020-08-28)

Study finds that water efficiency achievable throughout US without decree
Northern Arizona University researchers Ben Ruddell and Richard Rushforth, with collaborators throughout the country, looked at how much water conservation can readily and affordably be achieved in each region and industry by looking at what conservation measures were already working and considering how much water is being used. (2020-08-26)

Researchers help inform cassava breeding worldwide
Scientists in Cornell University's NextGen Cassava project have uncovered new details regarding cassava's genetic architecture that may help breeders more easily pinpoint traits for one of Africa's key crops. (2020-08-25)

Unconventional farming methods could help smallholders fight back against climate change
New research from Ghana shows less popular methods of biochar application are more effective in promoting cowpea growth and yield. Cowpea is widely cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa and in warm regions around the world. The crop is an important source of human food, livestock feed, and green manure, and generates income for smallholder farmers. It is valued for its ability to boost soil fertility by fixing nitrogen. (2020-08-24)

Revealed: How billions in EU farming subsidies are being misspent
A unique study has analyzed in detail how EU agricultural subsidies flow down to the local level. The new data show that most income support payments go to intensively farmed regions already above median EU income, while climate-friendly and biodiverse farming regions, as well as poorer regions, are insufficiently funded. Consequently, the majority of payments are going to the regions causing the most environmental damage and the farmers in the least need of income support. (2020-08-21)

Improving protein digestibility in sorghum
Improving protein digestibility in sorghum (2020-08-19)

Tennessee agricultural sectors taking a hit from COVID-19
The latest research from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of agricultural commodity production and distribution, leading to substantial price declines and reduced income for farmers. (2020-08-19)

Research brief: Bee neighborly -- sharing bees helps more farmers
New paper shows the benefits of cost-sharing the conservation of wild bee habitats on agricultural lands, especially in nearby farming communities, can help overcome the tragedy of the commons. (2020-08-18)

NUS-led study considers potential and constraints of reforestation for climate mitigation
A recent study led by NUS researchers showed that practical considerations, beyond where trees could be planted, may limit the climate change mitigation potential of reforestation. Hence, there is a need to understand how these constraints operate to inform climate policies. (2020-08-18)

Cover crop mixtures must be 'farm-tuned' to provide maximum ecosystem services
Penn State researchers, in a recent study, were surprised to learn that they could take the exact same number of seeds from the same plants, put them in agricultural fields across the Mid-Atlantic region and get profoundly different stands of cover crops a few months later. (2020-08-18)

Farmers help grow water plan
Overallocation of surface water for growing food crops is shifting agriculture and other industry to use groundwater - which is much more difficult to measure and monitor. Using local producer knowledge as 'soft data' to estimate groundwater use in modelling is a helpful tool in mapping sustainable use of scarce resources, Flinders University experts say. (2020-08-17)

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