Using rice to filter pesticide runoff

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It may be practical to use rice crops to naturally filter and dissipate pesticide runoff from agricultural land (© Pexels)

Rice has been a staple food crop for millions of people for hundreds of years. This important crop is now a major part of 20% of the world’s population, with it being grown on every continent except Antarctica.

Whilst rice is known to be an important part of our diet, recently published research has shown how rice can be used in a unique way; to clean chemical runoff from farms before it can enter local water sources.

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Agricultural pest control by bats in Madagascar

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The study found that native bat species preferred to feed around hillside farmland compared to forest due to the higher number of agricultural pest insects (© Pexels)

A new study has brought to light how native bat species in Madagascar are playing an important role in the control of agricultural crop pests. If more attention and information was brought to this, zoologists from the University of Cambridge believe that bats could reduce the financial strain on farmers for chemical pesticide use as well as the need to convert forests into fields. Continue reading

Philippine farmers worst hit by Typhoon Mangkhut

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Ducks in a cornfield in Cagayan Province that was damaged by strong winds (Image credit: Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

Typhoon Mangkhut (local name: Ompong) recently swept across the northern island of Luzon, Philippines, severely affecting the country’s bread basket. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, approximately 171,932 farmers have suffered as a consequence of the storm.

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Fostering knowledge and confidence to feed more

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Valli Kupuswamy with her grand-daughter, Pouvisha, in their kitchen. Photo: Sanjit Das/Panos

Globally, an estimated 815 million people go hungry each day. Without access to healthy food, they are chronically undernourished. Meanwhile, in spite of advances in agricultural technology, approximately 40% of the food grown annually in rural communities is lost to pests and diseases. People living with persistent hunger need and deserve a sustainable solution based on self-reliance. Reducing the losses caused by plant health problems by just 1% could mean feeding millions more.

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Developing pest-smart farmers in Cambodia

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Farmers attending a demonstration on ecological engineering in Rohal Suong Climate-Smart Village. Photo: A. Costa (CABI) view original

In Rohal Suong Climate-Smart Village, adoption of ecological engineering practices has improved farmers’ ability to prevent pests and diseases outbreaks while reducing pesticides use.

Every year, a great portion of Cambodian farmers’ income is at risk because of possible pests and diseases (P&D) outbreak. Aside from the inadequate knowledge of farmers, climate change aggravates the problem on managing P&D.

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Could perennial crops be an answer to climate change?

Planting rice in China (© CABI)

Reblogged from The Economic Times

BENGALURU: While India reaped the benefits of the Green Revolution in the 1960s, her neighbour China is now taking the lead in another area of sustainable agriculture — developing crops that meet the challenges posed by global warming.

Chinese agricultural scientists are working to convert seasonal crops into perennial crops that regrow after being harvested and deliver multiple yields before dying.

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Climate-friendly rice wins 2015 Popular Science award

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Wetland rice fields are prolific producers of methane © Helidixon, CC BY-NC-ND

A new strain of low-methane rice has won Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” award 2015 for engineering. The new kind of rice, known as SUSIBA2, has been developed by splicing a single gene from barley into rice plants to reduce the amount of methane the rice produces and, ultimately, the amount released into the environment. The single inserted gene does this by altering the transport of carbon within the rice plant. Instead of taking its usual path to the roots, where methane-producing bacteria are found, carbon in SUSIBA2 rice is redirected to the grains and leaves. This has the added benefit of increasing the starch levels and yield of the rice. SUSIBA2 rice has performed well in field trials and will now be assessed for commercial viability.  Continue reading