Ratooned fennel, a promising crop for arid climates

Picture source: pixabay.com

Ratooning consists of harvesting the above-ground portion of a plant while leaving sprouts on the lower part in order to produce a fresh crop. Scientists Akbari-Kharaji et al. recently observed that the ratooning of fennel during 6 years produced acceptable grain and essential oil yields although decreasing chemicals and machinery use. The risk of soil degradation decreased, hence making the practice suitable in arid climate countries, such as Iran.

Consumer preference as a key driver for rice production improvement in Tanzania?

Picture copyright Sekiya et al.

Rice consumption in Tanzania has greatly increased since the 1960s; it is predicted to continue to increase owing to urbanization and changes in consumer preferences from traditional staples such as maize and tubers to rice. Scientists Sekiya et al. analyzed the status of rice production in Tanzania from a multidisciplinary perspective and proposed a realistic research framework much oriented toward meeting consumer demands for improving rice production in Tanzania.

Can perennial grains help overcome agricultural challenges in Africa?

Picture copyright Wim Carton

Perennial grains have many environmental, agronomic and economic benefits, such as helping farmers adapt to climate change or restore degraded soils. Scientists Isgren et al. recently reviewed the knowledge about on-farm adoption and the use of perennial grains around the world. In the Sub-Saharan African context, they advocated developing a farming systems research approach in order to broaden the emerging research agenda around perennial grains.

Economic advantages of legume-based rotations in dry areas

Picture copyright Yigezu et al.

The expansion of cereal monocropping has been a growing challenge in dry areas. This trend is mostly a consequence of policies and incentives for the intensification of cereals as well as lower yields, diseases and pest susceptibility, and perceived economic disadvantages of legumes. Considering a two-year period, scientists Yigezu et al. provided evidence that rotation, especially with improved varieties of legumes, leads to a total two-year gross margin higher than cereal monocropping.

Optimizing the yield of cultivated desert truffles

Picture copyright Andrino et al.

Producing desert truffles constitutes a valuable agricultural activity in semiarid areas of the Iberian Peninsula due to their much appreciated edible value and their low water requirement. Scientists Andrino et al. found that the crop of desert truffle can be stabilized and optimized, around 300 kg/ha, by controlling the aridity index and soil water potential in the field by irrigation during autumn and spring. They propose four methods to manage the plantations depending on available resources and facilities at the cultivation sites.

Is pennycress ready for wide-spread adoption in the Upper Midwest?

Picture copyright Julija Cubins

Pennycress is underused in agriculture, despite multiple agronomic benefits as a winter annual and a potential to produce an oilseed feedstock for industrial uses. Scientists Cubins et al. recently reviewed the promise shown by this plant for successful integration on agricultural land in the Upper Midwest. They reckoned, however, that information regarding basic management practices, such as seeding rate, row spacing, and nutrient requirements is lacking. Henceforth, further breeding efforts are needed to develop commercially viable varieties.

Diversifying grain-based cropping systems for a sustainable agriculture

Picture copyright Adeux et al.

Herbicides jeopardize the sustainability of agriculture. Unfortunately, no alternative weed management tool can level with their efficacy. Based on 17-years of observations, Scientists Adeux et al. showed that diversified crop rotation allowed low herbicide use, long-term weed management, and high productivity in grain-based cropping.

Diversifying crop rotation improves agroecosystem robustness

Picture copyright Li et al.

Coordinating the activity of key agronomy practices can enhance agroecosystem robustness. Scientists Li et al. recently found that including N2-fixing legume crops in the rotation improved resistance to stresses, causing agricultural systems to become more resilient and constant in productivity across rotation cycles. This enhanced robustness led to average increases in crop yield and farm net financial return of 5-8% and 12-23%, respectively.

Agrophotovoltaic systems for integrated food and renewable energy production

Picture copyright BayWa r.e.

The expansion of renewable energies aims at meeting the global energy demand while replacing fossil fuels. However, it requires large areas of land, leading to competition for limited land resources. Agrophotovoltaic systems can spare land resources by combining food and solar energy productions. Scientists Weselek et al. recently reviewed that such synergetic combination might increase overall land productivity by up to 70%. They concluded that agrophotovoltaic systems can be a valuable technical approach for more sustainable agriculture.

Developing cultivation of perennial forage legumes in marginal lands

Picture copyright S. De Meyer

Perennial forage legume species provide high protein feed to animals and restore soil fertility. However current perennial forage legumes often require re-seeding each time the “perennial phase” is re-established. Scientists Edwards et al. recently introduced the concept of a “perennial ley-farming” system in which the perennial legume self regenerates from a hard seed bank, thus creating a more sustainable agro-ecosystem.