- Tea, anyone? Jeremy delves into how Brits made tea, and vice versa.
- More tea? Lawrie Taylor looks at the dark side.
- Want to know what the soil is like on African tea farms? Try iSDAsoil. Let the mashing up with crop accession locality data begin…
- Want to know what happened to those other seeds that came out of China?
- Does it matter who advises farmers? Pest management choices with public and private extension. Yes, at least in Switzerland. Public = prevention, private = cure. Well colour me surprised.
- Ethiopia’s transforming wheat landscape: tracking variety use through DNA fingerprinting. Only 28% of farmers correctly named their wheat varieties, many of which were from CGIAR breeding programmes.
- Analysis of the Similarity between in Silico Ideotypes and Phenotypic Profiles to Support Cultivar Recommendation—A Case Study on Phaseolus vulgaris L. Italian farmers not great at keeping track of new varieties either, but who needs names when you have fancy maths?
- Morphological, Sensorial and Chemical Characterization of Chilli Peppers (Capsicum spp.) from the CATIE Genebank. From 192 accessions to this little beauty from Panama.
- Two divergent chloroplast genome sequence clades captured in the domesticated rice gene pool may have significance for rice production. Rice is from Mars, rice is from two Venuses.
- Identification of Mung Bean in a Smallholder Farming Setting of Coastal South Asia Using Manned Aircraft Photography and Sentinel-2 Images. From 10-m imagery for pity’s sake! Amazing stuff. Soon we’ll be able to distinguish landraces from modern varieties, right? Right?
- Linking biodiversity into national economic accounting. Yikes, biodiversity makes no contribution to agricultural development at all?
- High sink strength prevents photosynthetic down-regulation in cassava grown at elevated CO2 concentration. Could result in higher yields, but effect will vary among varieties.
- Discovery of beneficial haplotypes for complex traits in maize landraces. Landrace diversity for early plant development, robustness and growth form that could be useful in Europe made accessible.
- Understanding the classics: the unifying concepts of transgressive segregation, inbreeding depression and heterosis and their central relevance for crop breeding. It’s the dispersion of favorable alleles between parents.
- Challenges and Prospects for the Conservation of Crop Genetic Resources in Field Genebanks, in In Vitro Collections and/or in Liquid Nitrogen. Everything that can be in cryo should be in cryo, and some things that currently can’t too.
I originally published this post on 29 July, but then Dr Baudron pointed to two additional papers on Twitter, and then later to another one, so I’m re-upping, for the second time, with a sixth bullet point.
Just in case this tweet disappears, or whatever, here are the links:
- Wheat yields and zinc content are higher closer to forests because of elevated organic matter in the soil.
- Diets are also more diverse nearer forests.
- Livestock (but not crop) productivity is higher nearer forests, and smallholder systems generally more sustainable.
- Bird diversity benefits from tree cover too, and that provides important ecosystem services to smallholders.
- Even limited reforestation in the surrounding landscape is associated with higher wheat yields in simulations, and you can potentially measure it from space.
- “More people, more trees.”
It seems we missed, back in August, a huge report on CGIAR’s work on ecosystem restoration. After a thorough stocktaking, the report suggests the following are critical for successful restoration:
- secure tenure and use rights
- access to markets (for inputs and outputs) and services
- access to information, knowledge and know-how associated with sustainable and locally adapted land use and land management practices
- awareness of the status of local ecosystem services, often used as a baseline to assess the level of degradation
- high potential for restoration to contribute to global ecosystem services and attract international donors
Which seems sensible. At least if “practices” in 3 and “services” in 4 and 5 include some consideration of genetic diversity. And on that note, it’s also about time we linked to the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s page on Restore & Renew (R&R).
It only covers New South Wales and Victoria, but the R&R Webtool could be something for CGIAR to run with globally. You pick a spot you want to restore, and, for a selection of trees, it tells you where best to source germplasm from. That’s based on current climate, future climate and, crucially, genetic similarity1 (if data are available).
Of course, this is just the start. Scaling up the supply of tree seeds for landscape restoration remains a major challenge. A recent review, also involving CGIAR scientists, makes quite a few useful recommendations. But in the end, I suspect, it will come down to this:
- put in place incentives and enabling policies to support smallholders in producing, trading and using high-quality genetically diverse reproductive materials