Winter rapeseed, a popular crop in Europe, is particularly sensitive to temperatures at certain times of year, which is reflected in annual yields that can vary by as much as 30 percent.  | REUTERS photo

Climate change may boost rapeseed yields

A study in the United Kingdom finds a connection between warmer weather in October and higher yields of oilseed rapeseed

As much as climate change poses many challenges for farming in the coming years, one study out of the United Kingdom has shown an unexpected climate plus for oilseed rapeseed. The study by the John Innes Centre in Norwich investigated a link between warmer weather in October and higher yields of oilseed rape, the second […] Read more

Researchers are only just beginning to understand why some corn varieties are more susceptible to ozone.  |  File photo

Rising ozone called a threat to corn varieties

Current levels will decrease yields by as much as 10 percent, which is the same level of threat as drought and flood

While rising carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere are a concern, little attention has been paid to the problem of rising ozone levels. In a new study, researchers have discovered that some varieties of the corn family are more susceptible than others to yield losses when exposed to high levels of ozone air […] Read more

Wheat stem sawflies damage wheat by penetrating the stem to lay their eggs.  |  File photo

Microbe discovery may control sawfly

Recent research to control sawfly has made progress that could ultimately help reduce the pest’s damaging impacts. Researchers at the Montana State University’s College of Agriculture have discovered a previously unidentified microbe named Spiroplasma sp. WSS that lives symbiotically with the sawfly. That may be the “in” researchers were looking for to help with future […] Read more

Ug99 wheat rust’s origin may hold keys to its control

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have uncovered the biological basis for the extreme resistance characteristics of a stem rust strain known as Ug99. “The Ug99 strain of the stem rust pathogen was widely virulent on wheat; thus, we were highly interested in what set this strain apart from others,” said Brian Steffenson, professor of […] Read more

What we eat and how we produce it contributes to climate change: expert

The global food system is the largest employer in the world. It engages thousands of people and enterprises in agriculture, and millions are employed in processing, transportation, distribution, marketing, and sales. But questions about food industry sustainability recently asked at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, which is headquartered in Cali, Colombia, led to a […] Read more

The findings are important because scientists can now begin to target the supply of hydrogen to methanogens to reduce animal methane emissions.  |  Mickey Watkins photo

Discovery may cut animal methane emissions

A scientific team identifies the rumen enzymes that control the main energy source for methane-producing microbes

In the global quest to reduce greenhouse gases, finding ways to lower methane emissions from livestock has become a priority. An international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of Ortago in New Zealand has identified the main rumen microbes and enzymes that control the supply of hydrogen, the main energy source for […] Read more

Soil microbes can help plants resist disease

Soil transplants similar to medicinal fecal transplants can transfer improved resistance to the next plant generation

A study by scientists at the University of York in the United Kingdom has shown that improved disease resistance can be transferred to the next generation of plants via soil transplants. Dr. Ville Friman at the university’s Department of Biology said the positive effects of so-called suppressive soils has long been known. “However, it has […] Read more

California soil scientists say compost provides not only carbon but also essential nutrients for microbes to function effectively and maintain soil health.  |  File photo

Compost, cover crops increase carbon in soil

A study finds increasing soil organic carbon, such as compost, is critical to increasing long-term soil carbon storage

In a 19-year study at the University of California, Davis, scientists dug six feet down in a study plot to compare changes in soil carbon in conventional, cover-cropped, and compost-added plots of corn-tomato and wheat-fallow cropping systems. Their findings showed that soil health and the importance of carbon is more complex than often realized but, […] Read more

Researchers have found that jumping genes can help breed crops that are more resistant to drought.  |  File photo

Jumping genes may speed up breeding

These mobile snippets of the DNA code can disrupt or amplify genes and may rapidly trigger improved crop production traits

Drought is a major threat to all crops and new research is hoping to find new trait variations in plants to help them cope with more extreme conditions. Researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Sainsbury Laboratory and plant sciences department in the United Kingdom have found that drought stress actually triggers the activities of a […] Read more

Waterhemp damages crop productivity and yield, and glyphosate resistance was detected in 2010.  |  File photo

Research targets waterhemp’s survival secrets

The weed spreads by the distribution of pollen and seeds but also by the spontaneous emergence of mutations

Waterhemp has crept its way along rapidly in recent years and is now considered one of the most problematic agricultural weeds in North America. It is native to the northeastern United States and first appeared in Canada in Ontario’s Lambton County in 2002. It has since spread to seven counties in the province and was […] Read more