- Environmental context and herbivore traits mediate the strength of associational effects in a meta-analysis of crop diversity. More crops in fields means fewer pests, by and large.
- Approaches and Advantages of Increased Crop Genetic Diversity in the Fields. How they get more crops into fields in Nepal, and why it’s a good thing to do so.
- Agroecology as a transformative approach to tackle climatic, food, and ecosystemic crises. More crops in fields can be transformative.
- Agroecology Can Promote Climate Change Adaptation Outcomes Without Compromising Yield In Smallholder Systems. More crops (and other things, to be fair) in fields means better climate change adaptation.
- Providing targeted incentives for trees on farms: A transdisciplinary research methodology applied in Uganda and Peru. To get more tree crops in fields, follow the money.
- Impact of small farmers’ access to improved seeds and deforestation in DR Congo. Getting more, better crops into fields may lead to loss of primary forest if they don’t come with fertilizers.
- Small-scale farming in drylands: New models for resilient practices of millet and sorghum cultivation. Models show that plant growing cycle, soil water-holding capacity and soil nutrient availability determine how much sorghum and millets are in fields.
Nibbles: Iron beans, Tree projects, Lablab genome, Tree collection management, Italian cooking, Replacing ugali, Gene-edited teff, Communicating plant breeding, Plant diseases, Sustainable intensification, Transforming African ag, Ag research investment, Saving seeds, Ukraine genebank
- Jeremy continues to dig deep into biofortification, and is not happy with what he finds out about iron-rich beans.
- Maybe he’ll donate to one of CIFOR-ICRAF’s nutrition-flavoured tree projects instead.
- Don’t worry, maybe lablab can be biofortified now that we have its genome.
- Speaking of trees, if you want to plant one in a particular botanic garden or arboretum, is it likely to thrive, now and in the future? Find out using the BGCI Climate Assessment Tool.
- Speaking of botanic gardens and arboreta, here are some resources on how they manage their tree collections.
- Prof. Alberto Grandi debunks the many myths of Italian cuisine.
- Christine Gatwiri doesn’t think maize can be replaced in Kenyan cuisine. I just hope it can be replaced in Italian cuisine.
- Will gene-edited teff finds its way into Ethiopian cuisine? And would it be a bad thing if it did? It depends on being open about it I guess…
- … so let’s remind ourselves of some ways plant breeding can usefully engage with the public, shall we?
- And let’s also remind ourselves that plant breeding is necessary, for example to protect our food supply against diseases. The Guardian has receipts.
- Prof. Glenn Denning doubles down on the whole better-maize-seeds-plus-fertilizer thing in Africa, but adds some greenery. In more senses than one. So yes, trees are allowed. And maybe even lablab and teff for all I know. Incidentally, the above gene-edited teff is shorter than “normal”, which could mean it might respond to more fertilizer in the same way as those Green Revolution wheats and rices once did.
- Ah yes, the “transformation” and “revolution” tropes are definitely all over the discourse on African agriculture these days. According to this article, what transformation and revolution will require are consistent planning, political backing, a fit-for-purpose lead organization and that perennial favourite, result-oriented implementation. No word here on greenery specifically, but at least it’s not ruled out.
- And to back all that up, CGIAR gets The Economist Impact to say that more funding is needed for agricultural research and innovation. Results-oriented, naturally.
- Meanwhile, in Suriname, Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau, local people are saving their traditional seeds and agricultural practices. The revolution will eat its own (seeds).
- Phew, the Ukrainian seed collection is squared away. Now for Suriname, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau…
Nibbles: Calabrian citron, Cherokee seeds, Indigenous food systems & community seed bank in India, NZ apple diversity, Climate funding for food
- Calabrians are growing citrons under solar panels to protect them from the heat.
- The Church of the Good Shepherd in Decatur, Alabama is growing seeds from the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank in its gardens, and that’s a sort of homecoming.
- The Indigenous agrobiodiversity and food systems of Meghalaya in India’s NE are helping local people cope with extreme climatic conditions.
- Elsewhere in India, there are community seed banks to help with resilience.
- And in New Zealand, the Volco Park Cultivar Preservation Orchard is helping academics teach about crop diversity.
- Meanwhile, only 3% of climate funding is going into food systems.
Nibbles: Transformation, MAHARISHI, Pastoralists and climate change, Utopian okra, Landrace breeding, Ghana genebank, Indian community seedbank, Rice pan-genome, Perennial rice
- Towards resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. Summary report from the FORSEE Series of Töpfer Müller Gaßner GmbH (TMG). Take home message: We need an internationally agreed framework for agri-food systems transformation that reduces the externalities of the current systems. But how?
- Chair Summary and Meeting Outcome of the G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists 2023. “We highlight the importance of locally adapted crops for the transition towards resilient agriculture and food systems, enhancing agricultural diversity, and improving food security and nutrition.” And that includes the wonderfully named Millets And OtHer Ancient GRains International ReSearcH Initiative (MAHARISHI). Ah, so that’s how.
- Are pastoralists and their livestock to blame for climate change? Spoiler alert: It’s complicated, but no. And here’s a digest of resources from the Land Portal explaining they can be part of sustainable and resilient agri-food systems.
- The Utopian Seed Project is developing more climate-resilient okra in the southern USA.
- Joseph Lofthouse, Julia Dakin, Shane Simonsen and Simon Gooder — interviewed here about landrace-based breeding — would approve of utopian okra.
- Plenty of landraces in the Ghana national genebank, according to this mainstream media article.
- Also plenty of landraces in India’s community seedbanks.
- Professor Zhang Jianwei at the National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University has built an rice pan-genome database based on 16 (landraces presumably) accessions representing all the major sub-populations. The technical details are here. Rice sustainability and resilience no doubt beckons. Okra next?
- No, perennial rice next, apparently.
Brainfood: Pollinator evolution, Pollinator diversity, Livestock, Yak milk consumption, Poultry in situ conservation, Soil stress, Self-domestication, Natural history collections
- The expansion of agriculture has shaped the recent evolutionary history of a specialized squash pollinator. The genetic diversity of an insect crop pollinator has been affected by the fact that it pollinates a crop.
- Native pollinators improve the quality and market value of common bean. The diversity of native insect crop pollinators affects the value of the crop they pollinate.
- A global approach for natural history museum collections. Basically amounts to “ask curators what they have.” Including presumably specimens of insect pollinators. We’ve been doing this for PGRFA for quite a while now, one way or another. Back to mainly plants next week, hopefully, but let’s keep going with animals for now, and let’s see what more we can learn.
- A 12% switch from monogastric to ruminant livestock production can reduce emissions and boost crop production for 525 million people. Ruminants are not all bad after all.
- Permafrost preservation reveals proteomic evidence for yak milk consumption in the 13th century. The Mongols thought this particular ruminant was just great.
- The self-management organization as a way for the in situ conservation of native poultry genetic resources. In response to the promotion of exotic commercial poultry breeds, women’s groups in Mexico have got together and developed rules to protect native hens. Please let not these be among the 12% of monogastrics that get replaced by yaks.
- Increasing the number of stressors reduces soil ecosystem services worldwide. It’s the number of different stressors, more than their aggregate strength, that most affects how badly soils are stressed. Goes for me too, to be honest.
- Elephants as an animal model for self-domestication. I’ll believe it when elephants domesticate yaks.