Researchers have learned how to use silk from a domestic silkworm to coat seeds with rhizobacteria.  |  REUTERS/Hereward Holland photo

Coating seeds with silk extends their reach

The silk is treated with rhizobacteria, which allows seeds to germinate and thrive in otherwise unproductive soil

Silk is one of the most valued natural resources in the world, used in everything from bedding to parachutes, clothing, bike tires and surgical sutures. It also has a unique agricultural application. A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a way to coat seeds with silk that has been treated with […] Read more

Researchers at the University of Illinois perform a uterine biopsy.  |  University of Illinois photo

Calcium’s role in dairy cows may be underrated: study

New research finds that adding calcium to prepartum diets can lower the possibility of uterine infection and return a cow to ovulation quicker

Achieving the right calcium balance in dairy cows is critical when they approach calving to ensure a health transition to lactation. Now a new study from the University of Illinois has shown that calcium added to prepartum diets can improve not only postpartum outcomes but also lower the possibility of uterine infection and help a […] Read more

New vaccine on horizon for bovine tuberculosis

Cattle tested positive for the disease after receiving a previous vaccine; the new vaccine is said to solve that problem

Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic, contagious, bacterial disease. Infected cattle are culled, and the farm quarantined. Worldwide, it is one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle industry today. It has been estimated that more than 50 million cattle are infected globally costing an estimated US$3 billion annually. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, […] Read more

A project in Kenya is using scientists’ understanding of plant-to-plant interactions to develop a way to manipulate the flow of information to control a pest in corn fields.  |  REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya photo

Plants can alert neighbours to looming threats

Airborne chemicals known as volatile organic compounds can be used to warn other plants of incoming insect pests

In a new study from Cornell University in New York, researchers have discovered that plants can alert their neighbours when under attack by pests through the release of recognizable smells. Smells, or airborne chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, are described as a form of language for plants. An incoming insect pest can prompt plants […] Read more

A circulation pattern in the jet stream that caused an extreme heat wave is partially blamed for the wildfires that devastated the Fort McMurray, Alta., area in 2016.  |  REUTERS/Mark Blinch photo

Jet stream waves linked to multiple crop failures

Two or more weeks per summer under the influence of these waves are associated with 11 percent drop in crop production

In 2016, Canadians were horrified by the ferocity of Alberta’s Fort McMurray wildfire. It was suspected to be human caused, but also in play were an unusually hot, dry air mass over the northern part of the province, record-setting temperatures, relative low humidity and high wind gusts. It led to the largest wildfire evacuation in […] Read more

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