Roundtable brings high-tech farming ideas to India’s risk-prone ecologies

David J. Spielman joined the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 2004, and is currently a senior research fellow based in Washington, DC. His research agenda covers a range of topics including agricultural science, technology and innovation policy; seed systems and input markets; and community-driven rural development. His work maintains a regional emphasis on East Africa and South Asia.

This post is re-blogged from the IFPRI blog.

Rice field in Bihar, India

Rice field in Bihar, India. Credit: Jim (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Imagine agriculture in India as a high-tech, highly mechanized venture. Picture a rice farmer taking soil samples with a handheld meter to gauge nutrient and moisture needs, calibrating planting along plot contours with GPS-guided tools, placing rice in precise rows using a mechanical transplanter, and doing this with the backing of reliable, customized financing. Now picture this farmer as a woman—because most of the men in her village have migrated to the cities in search of better opportunities.

It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t correspond with our image of poor rice farmers toiling in knee-deep water under the hot sun and monsoon rains, prey to the local moneylender.

But this future is nearer than we realize, and it was the focus of a roundtable on “Sustainable Intensification in South Asia’s Cereal Systems: Investment Strategies for Productivity Growth, Resource Conservation, and Climate Risk Management” held on May 19 in New Delhi. Read more of this post

New technology for detecting pests and diseases

by Keron Bascombe, Technology4Agri

IPM Scope for identifying diseases

IPM Scope – a new technology to aid identification of plant diseases © Spectrum Technologies

Much of farm enterprise activity is spent dealing with pests and diseases which significantly lower the yield of produce. For many producers this warrants the use of pesticides of many kinds to deter a wide variety of pests and insects that can either destroy crops or act as vectors that cause disease. Excess use of pesticides can not only harm the plant and its soil (or soil medium) but it is potentially harmful to those labourers applying the chemical and in the long run to those consuming the crop.

In this regard, early detection of pests and disease is paramount when operating a medium to large scale agri enterprise, as pesticide application can be minimised if pests are found before they get out of control. There are numerous technologies, ranging from simple applications to complex innovations, that can be used to identify harmful insects and the like. Currently, some of the more high-tech tools are quite expensive, especially for farmers in developing countries. However, as demand and use increases in countries such as the United States, these tools will become more accessible worldwide. Read more of this post

The Model Plant

Arabidopsis thaliana

Arabidopsis thaliana is a model organism for plant science research

Charis Cook works for GARNet, a BBSRC-sponsored network that supports plant scientists in the UK by, among other things, linking researchers to each other and to the research councils, and providing an information hub for plant scientists. GARNet also has its own blog. Before working for GARNet, Charis was at Royal Holloway, University of London, as a post-grad student and then a post-doctoral researcher.

Arabidopsis thaliana, an unassuming Brassicaceae species with a short life cycle and tiny white flowers, was the subject of nearly 4000 peer-reviewed journal articles in 2011. A. thaliana is also the starting point of much of the research featured on the Plantwise blog, as plant molecular biology depends heavily on resources built on research on this small plant. Read more of this post

Crop wild relatives help adapt agriculture to climate change

Wild Sunflowers (Credit: Luigi Guarino, Global Crop Diversity Trust)

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has begun work to collect seed from the wild relatives of 26 crop plants as their genetic diversity may enable us to adapt agriculture to future climates. Guest blogger Dr Ruth Eastwood is Crop Wild Relatives Project co-ordinator, based at RBG Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, UK.

Read more of this post

The road to sustainable intensification of agriculture

The biodiversity of non-cropped areas can benefit farmers © Maggi_94 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)

Last week, Professor Tim Benton, the UK Global Food Security programme ‘champion’, wrote a guest blog post about ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture. This week he follows on from this by looking at how farmers can integrate protection of ecosystem services into their land management without losing out finanically. Read more of this post

Ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification

Our first guest blog is from Professor Tim Benton. Tim is Professor of Ecology at the University of Leeds, where his research interests focus around agriculture-ecological interactions.  He also currently has a role as “Champion” for the UK’s Global Food Security programme which aims to coordinate food security related research across the major public funders. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,320 other followers