Franken-canola has been found growing along roadsides in North Dakota, in one of the first known cases of genetically modified crops taking hold in the wild. The finding shows that genetically modified canola plants can survive and thrive in the wild perhaps for decades, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.
Meredith G. Schafer, a graduate student from the University of Arkansas, and colleagues traveled along 3,000 miles of interstate, state and county roads in North Dakota and stopped every five miles to take a sample of a canola plant. Of the 406 plants collected, 80 percent of them had at least one transgene.
The grain crops that we humans depend on daily to hold body and soul together are annual crops -- they have to be planted every year. They germinate, bear their delicious product, and then die off; the following year, a brand new crop is put in to take their place.
Such annual crops are high in yield, but they require vast amounts of artificial fertilizer, and their impermanence contributes to soil erosion.
U.S. farmers are dealing with a superweed epidemic, and it's not as groovy as it sounds on first read. Ubiquitous use of the weed killer Roundup over time has spawned herbicide-resistant superweeds , much as heavy use of antibiotics over past decades has bred drug-resistant germs and bacteria.
A day of reckoning has come for destructive crop pests, in the form of vicious voodoo wasps that can convert hapless insects into zombies. Scientists have cracked the genome code for three species of the parasitic wasp, in hopes of deploying them against pests that destroy billions of tons of crops per year, The Independent reports.
With its annual output of over 330 million tons a year feeding animals, running cars, and decorating South Dakota tourist attractions, maize is clearly Americas most important crop. That's why the newly published complete corn genome could drastically change the food, automotive and plastic industries.
There was a time when a farmer simply tasted a clump of dirt to tell the fecundity of the soil. Now, a wide range of chemical analysis help instruct farmers on the optimal mix of fertilizer, pesticide and water. However, tests on soil samples are expensive and time consuming, and few farmers can afford to waste either time or money. And that's where the satellite imaging comes in.
A second Green Revolution can't come soon enough for UK scientists, who say that their government should invest $3.3 billion in crop research to help feed the world. That world will only grow hungrier, and will require a 50 percent boost in food production over the next 40 years.
Any gardener knows weeds are tough. You spray, them, you uproot them, but they keep coming back. Well, some scientists are looking to harness the resilience of weeds to fortify food crops against the causes and consequences of climate change.
Food-borne illness frequently grabs headlines: tomatoes, peanut butter and, most recently, pistachios have all made people sick from salmonella and caused headaches for grocers across the United States.
Now, another food illness of sorts is popping up on the international radar screen -- only this one makes the food itself ill. Well, one of the plants that turns into much of our food, in any case. Scientists from 40 countries on six continents are fighting a virulent form of an old wheat disease that some fear could threaten 90 percent of the world's wheat crop. They aim to fight the fungus on the genetic level, hoping to prevent it from spreading to North America by replacing much of the world's wheat varieties with tougher plants.
A new monitoring system allows plants to text farmers when thirsty
By Jessica ChengPosted 05.07.2008 at 3:38 pm 2 Comments
Just in time for this years growing season, farmers have new equipment to help keep tabs on their crops while away. With SmartCrop, a system developed by Accent Engineering, farmers get text messages when their plants need water. The system uses infrared thermometers to measure leaf temperature and data is then transferred to a computerized base station. A cellphone modem hooked up to the base station allows farmers to receive SMS alerts when their plants are too hot. Research has shown that each plant species has a range of temperatures that is best for its growth.