Sulfur has been used on agricultural lands as a fertilizer and a pesticide to improve production and crop health. | File photo

Sulfur pollution finger pointed at agriculture

American researchers say they have found that modern farming is the largest human source of sulfur in the environment

Sulfur pollution has reached levels of up to 10 times higher than the peak sulfur loads of the acid rain days of the 1960s and 1970s. The source appears to be additions of sulfur to agricultural crops. “For several years, my research group has been studying the fate of high sulfur loads applied to California […] Read more

According to Ducks Unlimited Canada, the 2018 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report showed that, while numbers were down from 2017 due to a dry spring, total populations were high and healthy. An estimated 41.2 million breeding ducks were recorded, 17 percent above the long-term average. However, northern pintails were estimated at 2.4 million, an 18 percent decrease from 2017. 
| File photo

Cropping methods can mislead ducks

Some of the best waterfowl breeding wetlands in the world are found right in our backyard. During the last Ice Age, kilometre-high glaciers pressed down on much of North America. When the ice melted, millions of shallow pools were left behind. These pothole wetlands became home to hundreds of species and millions of waterfowl. Today, […] Read more

Alison Van Eenennaam, a co-operative extension specialist with the University of Californa, Davis’s animal science department, helped develop Cosmo using genome editing.  |  University of California, Davis photo

Genome-edited bull can produce more males

American researchers inserted a gene that is involved in male sexual development into one of the calf’s chromosomes

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have successfully produced a bull calf that has been genome-edited to produce more male offspring. They did this by inserting the SRY gene into the bovine chromosome 17. But what does that mean? On March 30, a black 50 kilogram calf was born at the UC Davis barn. […] Read more


Pathogens discovered to be highly adaptable

A study from the U.K. found that crop pathogens can evolve to attack new host plants, which can increase the threat level

As climate change effects become more widespread, plant species are under constant stress to adjust to changing conditions. But many pathogens are ahead of the game. They have shown an ability to adapt, adopt new temperature preferences, and capitalize on host plant diversity and plant ranges at the expense of crop production. In a study […] Read more

Soybean genes control fungal colonization

The relationship between plant roots and soil fungi is a complex symbiotic association in which both organisms can benefit. Soybeans pair up with mycorrhizal (root) fungi. In exchange for sugar, the fungus acts as an extension of the plant’s root system to draw in phosphorus, nitrogen, micronutrients, and water that the plant cannot reach on […] Read more


Catherine Jacott of the John Innes Centre said the results of the full scope of the research will have important implications for crop improvement by enhancing beneficial mycorrhizal fungi interactions while reducing crop losses from powdery mildew. | Supplied photo

Pathogen capitalizes on ancient relationship

A gene that allows plants to reap the benefits of a mycorrhizal fungi also makes them susceptible to powdery mildew

If the mildew locus O gene causes crops to be susceptible to powdery mildew, why have plants hung onto this seemingly detrimental genetic relationship over evolutionary history? Unravelling this enigma has been the goal of scientists at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom and the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology in […] Read more

Wheat is one of the crops affected by the brome mosaic virus.  |  Brian Cross photo

Researchers solve brome mosaic virus puzzle

Shedding light on the different components of this crop disease was key to scientists figuring out how to prevent infection

The brome mosaic virus has baffled scientists for decades. It is a genetic puzzle that, unlike many other viruses, is divided into three particles that have been impossible to tell apart. Until now. BMV affects grasses such as wheat and barley and, in 2016, the infection was recorded in soybeans in Manitoba. Mosaic symptoms include […] Read more

Rachel Wells, a senior scientist at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom, has discovered a wasp that lays its eggs inside the body of cabbage stem flea beetles.  |  John Innes Centre photo

Cabbage stem flea beetle predator discovered

Scientists in Great Britain learn about parasitic wasp by accident while collecting beetles for a feeding preference trial

By sheer chance, researchers at the John Innes Centre at Norwich in the United Kingdom have discovered a wasp that lays its eggs inside the body of cabbage stem flea beetles. Once the larvae have emerged after passing through the digestive system, the beetles are rendered sterile and die. The discovery was made when the […] Read more


Everything a plant needs to grow must pass through its cell membranes. To do that, it must pass through a sieve of microscopic pores called aquaporins. | File photo

Learning the role of plants’ molecular ‘gatekeepers’

Everything a plant needs to grow must pass through its cell membranes. To do that, it must pass through a sieve of microscopic pores called aquaporins. Now, researchers at the Australian National University have uncovered new information on how this network of “gatekeepers” works. The knowledge could be key to developing food crops with improved […] Read more

The 2019 Global Agricultural Productivity Report by Virginia Tech says the current annual productivity growth of 1.63 percent is less than the required 1.73 percent to sustainably produce food and agricultural products that will be needed by 10 billion people in 2050.
 | Screencap via globalagriculturalproductivity.org

Crop rotation design gets complicated

Agriculture is struggling to keep up with the world’s burgeoning population. That’s according to the 2019 Global Agricultural Productivity Report by Virginia Tech. It said the current annual productivity growth of 1.63 percent is less than the required 1.73 percent to sustainably produce food and agricultural products that will be needed by 10 billion people […] Read more