Impressive shout-out for the IRRI genebank’s use of AI in seed sorting by Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon and Amazon Web Services and VP at Amazon. Presented a few days ago at the AI for Good Global Summit.
- CROPGRIDS: A global geo-referenced dataset of 173 crops circa 2020. It’s great to finally know where crops are grown. Thanks, satellites!
- Satellite imagery for high-throughput phenotyping in breeding plots. Ok, so now we could theoretically also say where landraces are grown around the world? Thanks, satellites!
- Likely decline in the number of farms globally by the middle of the century. Wait, you have to model this, you can’t figure it out from space? Thanks, satellites.
- Just agricultural science: The green revolution, biotechnologies, and marginalized farmers in Africa. Looks like you can’t predict the success of pest resistant Bt cowpea in Burkina Faso from space.
- Dried up Bt cotton narratives: climate, debt and distressed livelihoods in semi-arid smallholder India. Likewise Bt cotton in India. In both cases, fancy technology is not enough.
- Scaling Up Pro-Poor Agrobiodiversity Interventions as a Development Option. Turns out it’s not just a matter of transferring technology, satellite or otherwise. If only they had had this analytical framework when they thought of Bt crops.
- Male and stale? Questioning the role of “opinion leaders” in agricultural programs. Yes indeed, upscaling needs changes in behaviours and attitudes, and for that you need those social networks, but “key farmers” are overrated as drivers of change.
- Gendered Knowledge, Conservation Priorities and Actions: A Case Study of On-Farm Conservation of Small Millets Among Malayalar of Kolli Hills, South India. And here’s another example, if more were needed.
- Assessment of seed system interventions for biofortified orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) in Malawi. Not clear if this is another example, but I suspect it is. Can you tell OFSP from space?
- Inventory of on-farm sorghum landrace diversity and climate adaptation in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia: implications for sorghum breeding and conservation. No opinion leaders nor satellites were used in this work.
- Banana bunchy top disease in Africa: Predicting continent-wide disease risks by combining survey data and expert knowledge. Both opinion leaders and satellites were used in this work. Well, not really but I couldn’t resist it.
- Climate change impacts on plant pathogens, food security and paths forward. Doesn’t cover banana bunchy top but I’m sure the main conclusion that better modelling and monitoring are needed applies. Using satellites, no doubt.
- Understanding farmer knowledge and site factors in relation to soil-borne pests and pathogens to support agroecological intensification of smallholder bean production systems. Sure, better modelling and monitoring are great, but in the end you have to bring it down to earth.
- Crop Diversity Experiment: towards a mechanistic understanding of the benefits of species diversity in annual crop systems. Diversification of arable crop systems through mixtures need not be bad for yields. I wonder if you can see crop mixtures from space.
- Bending the curve of biodiversity loss requires rewarding farmers economically for conservation management. This does not cover crop biodiversity, but I guess the above does, to a degree. If there were money on the table, you probably wouldn’t need social networks, let alone opinion leaders.
There’s a nice map of the spread of the olive doing the rounds on Twitter.
But where does it come from?
As best as I can make out, the ultimate source seems to be an article on Vivid Maps. All the other maps and illustrations in the article are credited, but this one is not, so I’m thinking the author — Alex — made it him or herself, and a fine job they did too if so.
Where did they get the data? Difficult to say, but there’s a very similar map, though not nearly as nice, in an Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems article entitled Olive Growing in a Time of Change. And that has the following credit (slightly cleaned up, and link added):
Olive diffusion in the Mediterranean Basin. (Adapted from Morettini. 1950. Olivicoltura. REDA, Roma, Italia, by Rallo, L. 2005. In Rallo, L., Barranco, D., Caballero, J. M., Del Río, C., Martín, A., Tous, J. Trujillo, I. (Eds.). (2005). Las variedades de Olivo en España. Junta de Andalucia. Ministerio de Agricultura Pesca y Alimentación. Ediciones Mundi-Prensa, Madrid, España. We acknowledge the permission by authors, scientific editors and publishers).
Which doesn’t really help clarify things an awful lot. Recent work adds an eastern dimension to the spread of the crop.
- Plant domestication: setting biological clocks. Domestication changed plants’ timekeeping and made them less resilient, but there is variation among the biological clocks of different organs that could tapped in breeding.
- Plant domestication and agricultural ecologies. There have been 7 main paths to plant domestication, or commonalities in the ways that plants were domesticated by people in different parts of the world in the past: ecosystem engineering, ruderal, tuber, grain, segetal, fibre, fruit tree.
- Plants cultivated for ecosystem restoration can evolve toward a domestication syndrome. Ok, maybe 8.
- Diamonds in the Not-So-Rough: Wild Relative Diversity Hidden in Crop Genomes. The cool alleles you spotted in wild relatives may already be in cultivated genomes, and that can save breeders some time and effort.
- Finding needles in a haystack: identification of inter-specific introgressions in wheat genebank collections using low-coverage sequencing data. Ah, here they are.
- Interspecific common bean population derived from Phaseolus acutifolius using a bridging genotype demonstrate useful adaptation to heat tolerance. I guess this is an example of the time that could be saved.
- Mapping potential conflicts between global agriculture and terrestrial conservation. A third of agricultural production occurs in sites of high biodiversity conservation priority, with cattle, maize, rice, and soybean posing the greatest threat and sugar beet, pearl millet, and sunflower the lowest. No word on how many crop wild relatives are threatened, but there’s a cool online mapping tool that could I suppose be used to mash things up.
- Assessing habitat diversity and potential areas of similarity across protected areas globally. At a pinch, this could be used to identify backups for any threatened sites of high biodiversity conservation priority.
- Ex situ conservation of two rare oak species using microsatellite and SNP markers. Watch out for the creeping domestication syndrome though, if these ever get used for restoration :)
- TreeGOER: a database with globally observed environmental ranges for 48,129 tree species. Even more than all the CWRs we did. But no, I don’t know if those oaks are included…
- Ecological Niche Models using MaxEnt in Google Earth Engine: Evaluation, guidelines and recommendations. …but if not you can always work their ranges out for yourself.
- Predictors of vitamin A rich food consumption among women living in households growing orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes in selected regions in Uganda. Women who knew less about vitamin A consumed more vitamin A-rich foods. Go figure.
- Degeneration of cleaned-up, virus-tested sweetpotato seed vines in Tanzania. Those orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes better be regularly cleaned, or resistant to viruses.
- Seaweed’s contribution to food security in low- and middle-income countries: Benefits from production, processing and trade. It’s the income. Maybe people should sell orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes rather than eat them?
- Fruit and vegetable processing and consumption: Knowledge, attitude, and practices among rural women in East Africa. Again, more knowledge, less consumption. Maybe equipment would help?
- Characterization of chickpea cultivars and trait specific germplasm for grain protein content and amino acids composition and identification of potential donors for genetic improvement of its nutritional quality. Hopefully knowing about their nutritional value will result in more use by breeders. Consumption is, however, another story.
- The Future of Food: Domestication and Commercialization of Indigenous Food Crops in Africa over the Third Decade (2012–2021). More knowledge about Indigenous crops by policy makers is needed for more consumption by regular people.
- Vegetables for Healthy Diets in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review of the Food Systems Literature. Knowledge is increasing, but gaps remain, in particular joining-up-the-dots along the value chain kind.
- Tiangong Chuxin: An Early Maturing Pumpkin-shaped Grape Cultivar. I don’t care about its nutritional value or even taste: I’d eat it just for its shape.
- The societal role of meat—what the science says. The case for meat.