The Benefits of Crop Rotation for Corn and Soybean

Spraying wheat crops field
Corn production is one of the world’s major agriculture resources (© Oticki)

Many farmers who grow soybean and corn also integrate crop rotation strategies to avoid the continuous corn yield cost, but scientists from the US have given a new reason to use crop rotation. Evidence suggests that rotating crops increases yield and lowers greenhouse gas emissions compared to monoculture corn or soybean.

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Factsheet of the month: February 2016 – Rotation against purple seed stain in soya

20167800029At the beginning of January, a new research centre opened in Benin, which aims to boost productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers, and create job opportunities. Researchers based at the Green Innovation Center, which has been funded by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), will develop tools for training and improve frameworks for collaboration and innovation with the ultimate goal of improving farmer livelihoods.

Initially, the centre will focus on pastoral agriculture, rice and soybeans, which are both important nutritional crops and key commodities in the area. Soybeans are particularly high in protein, a macronutrient which is still lacking in many diets in Subsaharan Africa. However, like all crops it is susceptible to numerous pests and diseases. This month’s factsheet of the month focuses on Purple Stain of soybean. This disease is caused by the fungus Cercospora kikuchii which causes seeds to turn purple and affects the price that they fetch on the market. Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (25 Mar 15)

Costa Rica's first carbon neutral banana farm had reduced its use of nitrogen fertilizers, reduced electricity consumption and improved the efficiency of transportation © The LEAF Project (CC BY-SA)
Costa Rica’s first carbon neutral banana farm has reduced nitrogen fertilizer and electricity use, and improved transportation efficiency © The LEAF Project (CC BY-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including early reports on the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, the first carbon neutral banana farm recognised in Costa Rica and training for Citrus farmers in Ghana on the use of technology to increase yields.

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Update: Plant Health News (11 Mar 15)

India experienced heavy unseasonal showers last week but it's unlikely to lead to a shortage © Lauren Tucker
India experienced heavy unseasonal showers last week but it’s unlikely to lead to a shortage © Lauren Tucker

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the revitalization of the banana industry in Jamaica, an assessment of the impact of climate change on agriculture and  record wheat output likely in India, despite crop damage.

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Update: Plant Health News (25 Feb 15)

Uganda are considering use of GM bananas resistant to Xanthomonas wilt © Pascale Lepoint / Bioversity International
Uganda are considering use of GM bananas resistant to Xanthomonas wilt © Pascale Lepoint / Bioversity International

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the Giant African land snails invading Cuba, the debate over GM bananas in Uganda and a new report from the World Food Programme on connecting farmers to markets.

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Update: Plant Health News (15 Jan 15)

Maize is a staple crop in Malawi but farmers have been told to diversify © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)
Maize is a staple crop in Malawi but farmers have been advised to diversify © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Crops in Brazil still suffering after last year’s drought, the Malawi farmers advised to diversify their crops and the gene that affects nitrogen fixation and yield of soybean.

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Plant Pest Interactions: How Soybean Aphids Trick Soybean Plant Defences

An Adult Soybean Aphid © Ho Jung Yoo, Purdue University (via Wikimedia Commons)

Following on from a previous blog on the interactions between soybean plants and soybean pests,  new research on soybean (Glycine max) responses to the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) published in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions has revealed some of the complex and fascinating interactions between pests and their plant hosts.  This recent research led by Dr Gustavo Macintosh and Matthew Studham from Iowa State University has shown that soybean aphids can suppress the natural plant defense response of soybean plants to the aphids through the activation of what is known as an antagonistic decoy response. For example, the aphid will induce a plant defense that is not particularly effective against the pest (the ‘decoy’ defense) while suppressing the effective defense in order for it to continue feeding on the plant.  It has further been found that aphids can actively suppress the effective defence responses of the plant while at the same time ‘hijacking’ the plant metabolism to improve the nutritional value of the plant for their own benefit. Soybean aphids do this by inducing asparagine synthase transcripts which improve the nutritional content of the phloem sap from which they feed. Continue reading