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Agriculture and Food News -- ScienceDaily

Agricultural research news. From fertilizers and organic farming to maximizing crops and hybridization, read about advancements in agriculture.

'Antelope perfume' keeps flies away from cows
In Africa, tsetse flies transfer the sleeping sickness also to cattle. The damage is estimated to be about 4.6 billion US dollars each year. Experts have developed an innovative way of preventing the disease. Tsetse flies avoid waterbucks, a widespread antelope species in Africa. The scientists imitated the smell of these antelopes.



Carbon coating gives biochar its garden-greening power
New research has demonstrated how composting of biochar creates a very thin organic coating that significantly improves the biochar's fertilizing capabilities.



Three-quarters of the total insect population lost in protected nature reserves
Since 1989, in 63 nature reserves in Germany the total biomass of flying insects has decreased by more than 75 percent. This decrease has long been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought.



Dogs are more expressive when someone is looking
Dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them, according to new research.



Living mulch builds profits, soil
Living mulch functions like mulch on any farm or garden except -- it's alive. No, it's not out of the latest horror movie; living mulch is a system farmers can use to benefit both profits and the soil. While the system has been around for a while, scientists are making it more efficient and sustainable.



Chocolate production linked to increased deforestation in poor nations
Newly published research focuses on the link between cocoa exports and deforestation in developing nations.



Domestication has not made dogs cooperate more with each other compared to wolves
Following domestication, dogs should be more tolerant and cooperative with conspecifics and humans compared to wolves. But looking at both in more naturalistic living conditions, however, speaks for more cooperative behavior of wolves. Researchers now show that the wild ancestors are excelling their domesticated relatives in teamwork. In an experimental approach dogs but not wolves failed to cooperatively pull the two ends of a rope to obtain a piece of food.



Cocktail tests on toxic waste called for
Surprisingly low concentrations of toxic chemicals -- from fungicides to antidepressants -- can change the way some aquatic creatures swim and feed, according to new research. In addition, depending on the cocktail of toxins they can produce unexpected results.



Baltic clams, worms release as much greenhouse gas as 20,000 dairy cows
Ocean clams and worms are releasing a significant amount of potentially harmful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, scientists have shown.



New way to prevent genetically engineered and unaltered organisms from producing offspring
A major obstacle to applying genetic engineering to benefit humans and the environment is the risk that organisms whose genes have been altered might produce offspring with their natural counterparts, releasing the novel genes into the wild. Now, researchers have developed a promising way to prevent such interbreeding. The approach, called 'synthetic incompatibility,' effectively makes engineered organisms a separate species unable to produce viable offspring with their wild or domesticated relatives.



Bio-methane transforms from landfill waste to energy source
Most manure just sits around. Anaerobic digesters take those piles and place them in large covered tanks and convert waste into an energy source. Chemical engineers examined the carbon footprint of anaerobic digestion.



New conservation method empowers indigenous peoples
Environmental social scientists worked with indigenous people in the rural Peruvian Amazon and determined that local people meet their basic needs through diverse subsistence activities, such as hunting, fishing, and farming, and over centuries they have developed sophisticated natural resource management systems that protect the robust rainforest ecosystem. Through the study, the scientists hope to overturn traditional notions about development and industrialization.



Dark side of coffee cultivation in Uganda
New research explores unequal exchange in the coffee industry. Researchers cite a range of negative consequences that coffee cultivation contributes to, including: malaria vulnerability, decreased participation in schooling, gender inequalities, and environmental degradation in Bududa, Uganda.



Some plants grow bigger -- and 'meaner' -- when clipped, study finds
Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these 'overcompensators,' as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry -- think plant venom -- when they are clipped. The discovery could lead to the development of new methods for boosting plant growth while reducing the need for insecticides, the researchers said.



Safety, not food, entices geese to cities
Canada Geese have shifted their winter range northward in recent years by taking advantage of conditions in urban areas -- but what specific features of cities make this possible? A new study suggests that rather than food, geese are seeking safety, congregating in areas where they can avoid hunters and be buffered from the coldest winter temperatures.



Gene to help hybrid wheat breeding identified
Researchers have identified a naturally occurring wheat gene that, when turned off, eliminates self-pollination but still allows cross-pollination -- opening the way for breeding high-yielding hybrid wheats.



Grazing horses on better pastures
Horses in less temperate zones may get some extra grazing. A new study shows warm-season annual grasses have good potential for use in horse pastures.



Protein restricts sap uptake by aphids
Researchers have discovered how plants can defend themselves against aphids. They recorded aphid behavior on video, and identified a plant protein that keeps aphids from feeding.



Breeding salt-tolerant plants
The quinoa plant might serve as a model for making other crops salt-tolerant. It grows well on saline soils because the excess salt is simply dumped into special bladders on its leaves.



Forest grazing counteracts the effectiveness of trees to reduce flood risk
Planting trees can reduce flood risk, but a high intensity forest land use, such as grazing, can counteract the positive effect of the trees, a recently published study suggests. The study investigated the rate that water infiltrated the soil under trees at an experimental agroforestry site in Scotland.



Salt marsh research warns of pumpkin-colored 'zombies'
Salt marsh research shows that growing abundance of tiny shrimp infected by a microscopic parasite may portend future threats to humankind through disease.



Clear lakes disguise impaired water quality
Look at a hundred lakes in the United States' agricultural heartland and you'll likely see green lakes surrounded by green fields. Agricultural fertilizers that help crops grow also fuel growth of algae and cyanobacteria that in excess can turn lakes the color of pea soup. Yet when scientists looked at 13 years of data from 139 lakes in intensively agricultural areas of Iowa they saw lakes that were surprisingly clear despite extremely high nutrient concentrations.



Pest resistance to biotech crops surging
Pest resistance to genetically engineered crops Bt crops is evolving faster now than before, researchers show in the most comprehensive study to date. But as expected from evolutionary theory, resistance can be delayed if farmers comply with recommendations to make use of abundant refuges.



Genetically boosting the nutritional value of corn could benefit millions
Scientists have found an efficient way to enhance the nutritional value of corn -- the world's largest commodity crop -- by inserting a bacterial gene that causes it to produce a key nutrient called methionine, according to a new study.



Amazon farmers discovered the secret of domesticating wild rice 4,000 years ago
Amazonian farmers discovered how to manipulate wild rice so the plants could provide more food 4,000 years ago, long before Europeans colonized America, archaeologists have discovered.



Sustainable irrigation may harm other development goals
Pursuing sustainable irrigation without significant irrigation efficiency gains could negatively impact environmental and development goals in many areas of the world, a new study has found.



Faster Salmonella test boosts food safety for humans and animals
A new test allows accurate, rapid testing for Salmonella, a bacteria that is one of the leading causes of food-borne illness across all regions of the world.



Key plant species may be important for supporting wildflower pollinators
Increased agricultural production has likely led to loss, fragmentation, and degradation of flower-rich habitats for pollinators. To counteract these negative effects of modern agricultural practices, efforts to maintain and restore diverse plants in agricultural landscapes -- called agri-environmental schemes -- have been implemented in numerous European countries.



Modified peptides could boost plant growth and development
A new study of peptide hormones critical for plant development could result in wide-ranging benefits for agriculture, tissue culture, and related industries, and even improve knowledge of peptides in humans. The study synthesized and examined the function of CLE peptides, a relatively new class of the peptide hormone family in plants.



Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
A new analysis suggests that open-ocean aquaculture for three species of finfish is a viable option for industry expansion under most climate change scenarios -- an option that may provide a new source of protein for the world's growing population.



Are we at a tipping point with weed control?
Imagine walking the cereal aisle at your favorite grocery store. Are you reading labels? Scanning prices? Thinking about weeds? If you're like most American consumers, weeds probably aren't at the forefront of your mind when buying food. But if farmers could no longer control weeds with existing herbicides, Americans would take notice pretty quickly.



Soil amendments for healthier spinach: Combo of biosolids, zinc, limestone prevents toxic uptake
Soils keep plants healthy by providing plants with water, helpful minerals, and microbes, among other benefits. But what if the soil also contains toxic elements, such as cadmium? The solution goes back to the soil. Researchers are investigating which soil additives work best.



Warming unlikely to have major impact on animal agriculture in Northeast
Climate change will not significantly impair animal agriculture in the Northeast region of the United States, according to a multidisciplinary team of researchers, who point out there are many variables in the future scenario they envision.



Durian industry could suffer without the endangered fruit bat
Scientists have discovered that Southeast Asia's endangered fruit bats -- commonly known as flying foxes -- play an important part in the pollination of the iconic and economically important durian tree.



Plants become more tolerant when living in symbiosis with fungi
By developing a symbiotic relationship with fungi, plants not only become more tolerant to diseases but can also help contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices, report scientists.



New report gives the lay of the land on grazing livestock's climate impact
An international research collaboration has shed light on the impact that grass-fed animals have on climate change. Its new study adds clarity to the debate around livestock farming and meat and dairy consumption.



Strips of prairie plants slow loss of soil, nutrients and water from ag fields, double biodiversity
Prairie strips integrated in rowcrops reduce soil and nutrient loss from steep ground, provide habitat for wildlife, and improve water infiltration, a decade of research is demonstrating.



The very hungry caterpillar
Caterpillars (Spodoptera litura) can eat anything thanks to the expansion of genes involved in taste and detoxification, new insect research shows.



Evolutionary crop research: Ego-plants give lower yield
Evolutionary biologists are calling for a shift in the usual plant breeding paradigm, which is based on selecting the fittest plants to create new varieties. New research results show that a plants ability to be less competitive and behave according to the good of the group could be a key feature in the attempt to increase crop yields.



Win-win strategies for climate and food security
Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture and forestry sectors could lead to increased food prices -- but new research identifies strategies that could help mitigate climate change while avoiding steep hikes in food prices.



Compound from oilseeds may be high-value product
Extracting a substance called glucosinolate from camelina and carinata seeds may help bring these promising sources of biofuel one stop closer to reality.



A stinging report: Climate change a major threat to bumble bees
New research is helping to explain the link between a changing global climate and a dramatic decline in bumble bee populations worldwide.



Global methane emissions from agriculture larger than reported, according to new estimates
Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock, according to a new study.



Massive projected increase in use of antimicrobials in animals by 2030
The amount of antimicrobials given to animals destined for human consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 52 percent and reach 200,000 tons by 2030 unless policies are implemented to limit their use, according to new research.



Earliest evidence for a native African cultigen discovered in Eastern Sudan
Archaeologists examining plant impressions within broken pottery have discovered the earliest evidence for domesticated sorghum in Africa.



Olive mill wastewater transformed: From pollutant to bio-fertilizer, biofuel
Olive oil has long been a popular kitchen staple. Yet producing the oil creates a vast stream of wastewater that can foul waterways, reduce soil fertility and trigger extensive damage to nearby ecosystems. Now scientists report on the development of an environmentally friendly process that could transform this pollutant into 'green' biofuel, bio-fertilizer and safe water for use in agricultural irrigation.



Genome of Fall Armyworm decoded: Moth pest is invading Africa
As part of an international consortium, researchers have sequenced one of the first genomes of a moth from the superfamily Noctuoidea: Spodoptera frugiperda, or armyworm. This crop pest -- until now only known on the American continent -- has become invasive in Africa since 2016. This study opens up perspectives for new methods of biological control and a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the appearance of pesticide resistance.



Removing nitrate for healthier ecosystems
In a new study, researchers have identified nitrate removal hotspots in landscapes around agricultural streams.



Purple plant is on the defensive
While lavender has long been known for its strong scent and soothing oils, a researcher is exploring the plant's ability to create natural pesticides.



With extra sugar, leaves get fat too
Eat too much without exercising and you'll probably put on a few pounds. As it turns out, plant leaves do something similar. A new study shows that retaining sugars in plant leaves can make them get fat too. In plants, this extra fat accumulation could be a good thing. It could help turn plants into factories for making biofuels and other useful chemicals.



Study finds no-tillage not sufficient alone to prevent water pollution from nitrate
A new study answers a long-debated agricultural question: whether no-tillage alone is sufficient to prevent water pollution from nitrate. The answer is no.



Crowning the 'king of the crops': Sequencing the white guinea yam genome
Scientists have, for the first time, provided a genome sequence for the white Guinea yam, a staple crop with huge economic and cultural significance on the African continent and a lifeline for millions of people.



Early trilobites had stomachs, new fossil study finds
Exceptionally preserved trilobite fossils from China, dating back to more than 500 million years ago, have revealed new insights into the extinct marine animal's digestive system. The new study shows that at least two trilobite species evolved a stomach structure 20 million years earlier than previously thought.



Recipe for forest restoration discovered
A new study has uncovered some valuable information on ways to maximize the success of replanting efforts, bringing new hope for restoring these threatened ecosystems.



Scientists and farmers work together to wipe out African lovegrass
New research and collaboration could lead to the eventual eradication of the highly invasive African lovegrass threatening pastures and native grasslands Australia-wide. What they discovered is that local knowledge is the key to a successful management approach.



Plants combine color and fragrance to procure pollinators
Who knew that it's possible to predict the fragrance of a flower by looking at its color? This is true for many of the 41 insect-pollinated plant species growing in a Phrygana scrubland habitat on the Greek island of Lesbos.



Eating nuts can reduce weight gain, study finds
A five-year study that evaluated diet and lifestyle data from more than 373,000 individuals from 10 European countries between the ages of 25 and 70 says consuming nuts can reduce weight gain.



Ensuring broccoli sprouts retain their cancer-fighting compounds
Raw broccoli sprouts, a rich source of potential cancer-fighting compounds, have become a popular health food in recent years. But conventional heat treatment used to kill bacteria on produce can reduce levels of the broccoli sprouts' helpful phytochemicals. Now researchers report that high pressure processing could wipe out harmful bacteria while maintaining high concentrations of its health-promoting ingredients.



Breaking legume's crop wild relative barrier
In a new study, scientists report significant strides in transferring disease- and stress-resistance traits from wild relatives of several legumes to their domesticated varieties.



Supercontinuum lasers can lead to better bread and beer
Researchers have analyzed whole grains with long near-infrared wavelengths using a new type of light source, the supercontinuum laser. The research has significance for our knowledge of food ingredients and may, for example, eventually lead to better quality of bread and beer.



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