The potassium paradox: Implications for soil fertility, crop production and human health

In the chemical age of agriculture that began in the 1960s, potassium chloride (KCl), the common salt often referred to as potash, has and is widely used as a major fertiliser in the Corn Belt without regard to the huge soil reserves that were once recognized for their fundamental importance to soil fertility. Three University […]

Unscrambling the genetics of the chicken’s ‘blue’ egg

They are the latest foodie fashion and look set to become big business in the baking aisles of all the major supermarkets – the blue egg produced by some chickens is prettier and some say tastier and cleaner-breaking than the traditional brown one – and now, thanks to scientists from The University of Nottingham, we […]

Maize trade disruption could have global ramifications

Disruptions to U.S. exports of maize (corn) could pose food security risks for many U.S. trade partners due to the lack of trade among other producing and importing nations, says a Michigan State University study. The study, featured in the journal Risk Analysis, didn’t primarily focus on plant disease, population growth, climate change or the […]

Palm oil genome mapping to improve yields and protect rainforest

The identification of a single gene critical for yield of the oil palm, a crop that accounts for nearly half of world-wide edible vegetable oil, is reported along with the plant’s genomic sequence in a set of papers published online July 24, 2013 ahead of print in Nature. The findings have implications for enhancing the […]

Insect control with plant essential oils

Once you start enjoying the fruits; and, vegetables in your organic garden, it’s not long before you start receiving visitors.  Meet the arthropods.  Those freeloading vegetarians who come swinging their many limbs and whose intent it is to share the bounties of your hard labour. Organic gardeners have a few options. Ignore them — pray […]

Grove Mill – gentle environmental footprints

Minimal impact on the environment is the philosophy behind this successful vineyard and the company has achieved CarboNZero certification.  Susan Kirk reports   A beautiful part of the South Island and a mecca for tourists looking to sample local produce, wine and perhaps motor cruise or paddle the beautiful waters of the Marlborough Sounds is, […]

Fish and chips straight from the backyard

What is Aquaponics? If you’re looking for the next step up in food production, Aquaponics could be perfect. Aquaponics is a “discipline” that has evolved from taking the best of aquaculture and the best of hydroponics.  Where aquaculture only grows fish,  and, hydroponics — plants,   Aquaponics is a natural system that grows fish and plants, […]

Permaculture – a renaissance

Much of the language has changed but not the principles.  If one was to devote and indeed preserve an environment through permaculture — a framework for a sustainable agricultural system, devised by Aussies, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, you would discover a simple rule, harmony with nature.  Modern term, sustainability. It all sounded so posh […]

Manures fight fungus – alternative to chemical control

Researchers at the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Neiker-Tecnalia, have confirmed that the use of semi-composted manure in combination with the plastic sealing of the soil is an effective control for Phytophthora capsici, a fungus responsible for a disease that seriously affects greenhouse-grown peppers. The research developed in the PhD thesis by the […]

Stop abusing insecticides in rice

To prevent devastating insect pest outbreaks in rice that cause millions of dollars of damage, the International Rice Research Institute has called for a ban on certain insecticides in rice production. To prevent devastating insect pest outbreaks in rice that cause millions of dollars of damage, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has called for […]