Which is the most important plant-pathogenic fungus?

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A survey by the journal, Molecular Plant Pathology, had 495 responses from international fungal pathologists on what they thought the most scientifically and economically important fungal plant pathogens were. Several of the ‘top 10’ fungi from these results are those that infect cereal crops, which isn’t surprising as cereals such as wheat and rice are…
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The road to sustainable intensification of agriculture

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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.
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Planet under Pressure

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A major international conference ‘Planet under Pressure (PUP)’ is being held in London, United Kingdom, this week, 26–29 March 2012. The meeting is being attended by scientists, industry leaders and decision makers. It will show whether science can, not only diagnose our environmental crisis, but also provide effective solutions, says David Dickson, SciDev’s editor, the official organisation…
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Why it’s time for a Spice Girl come back

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The 1990’s saw some significant steps made towards equality, democracy and sustainable living. Perhaps the thing that made the biggest impact on me was the ‘Girl Power’ movement, led by none other than the Spice Girl’s – their music might have been questionable, but they certainly made an impact. Fortunately for the rest of society,…
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Ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification

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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.
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Puddles of pests: why the weather really matters

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Weather – an integral part of farming ©Paul Dickson While folklore has worked well for many farmers over the years, watching out for red skies or the wind changing direction isn’t always convenient, and a little more notice of hurricanes and tropical storms is usually appreciated. With recent stories of rain beating down on mangoes in…
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Getting Older Quicker: Wheat’s New Ageing Problem

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Many of us dislike getting older, but you can usually predict how it will go: next year you expect to be 1 year older and you expect your body to be 1 year older. But what if instead of continually growing over a year, your body instead decided to grow for 6 months and then stop…
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Agricultural Super Ducks

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Agricultural super ducks? You may think that the entire phrase is flawed. Ducks waddle around in parks, not on farms. You probably have never thought of them as being particularly ‘super’ as they paddle around the park pond, searching for scraps of bread. However, you’d be mistaken, as I was, for the humble duck is…
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Radio initiatives aiding remote African farmers

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Information and communication technology has advanced rapidly in the past few decades. Many of us now take connection to the internet and easy access to information for granted. However, in remote parts of the world, even access to electricity is infrequent and unreliable, and communication technology is developing in a way that reflects this. In…
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India’s Food Security Challenges

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Agriculture is very important to India, employing 55% of its population and providing 16.5% of its annual GDP. The industry as a whole is worth US$ 17.5 million alone in exports. However, it’s not all plain sailing, with low productivity and regional groundwater depletion currently threatening Indian agriculture. Climate change and the demands of an…
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