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Crops

— Aircraft

MIT's crop-saving drones at the ready

By - May 14, 2015 4 Pictures

Keeping track of crop health is an overwhelmingly tough ask for farmers, and things are only likely to get tougher with predictions of huge yield drop-offs in the coming decades. With a freshly-inked US$100,000 cheque tucked under its arm courtesy of MIT, startup RaptorMaps plans to get crop-mapping drones into the air this summer to better track their health and give farmers' harvests a boost.

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— Good Thinking

Barsha pump provides irrigation water, but doesn't need fuel

By - November 4, 2014 2 Pictures
Climate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe’s best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate. Read More
— Science

New study indicates dramatic fall-off in global crop yields by the year 2050

By - July 31, 2014 1 Picture
A new study has examined the potentially disastrous implications that a combination of global warming and air pollution could have on crop yields by the year 2050. The research is one of the first projects to take into account a combination of the two dangers, and highlights the humanitarian crisis that could arise should the threat not be tackled head-on. Read More
— Science

Modifier protein could increase crop yields, even in poor conditions

By - January 15, 2014 1 Picture
Researchers have discovered a new way to increase plant growth by suppressing the natural response to environmental stress. The scientists have found a modifier protein that can be used to interfere with the plant's growth repression proteins independently of the previously identified hormone Gibberellin. They believe this will lead to higher crop yields, even in unfavorable conditions. Read More
— Science

N-Fix tech could drastically reduce agricultural fertilizer use

By - July 26, 2013 1 Picture
Synthetic crop fertilizers are a huge source of pollution. This is particularly true when they’re washed from fields (or leach out of them) and enter our waterways. Unfortunately, most commercial crops need the fertilizer, because it provides the nitrogen that they require to survive. Now, however, a scientist at the University of Nottingham has developed what he claims is an environmentally-friendly process, that allows virtually any type of plant to obtain naturally-occurring nitrogen directly from the atmosphere. Read More
— Science

FLOW-AID helps farmers save water without sacrificing yields

By - July 11, 2013 1 Picture
We’ve already seen gadgets such as Koubachi and Flower Power, that communicate with users’ smartphones to let them know when their houseplants need watering. Scale that idea up to an agricultural level, and you get a prototype device known as the Farm Level Optimal Water management Assistant for Irrigation under Deficit – or FLOW-AID. It’s designed to let farmers in drought-stricken regions know when and how much water to apply to their crops, so they don’t run their irrigation systems unnecessarily. Read More
— Science

"Transfer engineering" eliminates toxins from edible part of rapeseed plant

By - August 7, 2012 1 Picture
As well as being the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world – after soybean and oil palm – rapeseed (also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi and rapeseed) is cultivated in Europe primarily for animal feed. But due to high levels of glucosinolates that are harmful to most animals (including humans) when consumed in large amounts, its use must be limited. Now researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found a way to stop unwanted toxins entering the edible parts of the plant, thereby increasing the potential of the plant to be used as a commercial animal feed. Read More
— Science

Genetically engineered safflower plant improves oil output for industry

By - June 24, 2012 2 Pictures
The safflower plant is one of the oldest crops known to man. Used by the ancient Egyptians in dyes, oils derived from safflower seeds are today used as a sustainable replacement for fossil-fuel-derived oil in a wide variety of products and industrial processes. Researchers at Australia’s CSIRO have now developed a new “super-high” oleic safflower that could make the crop even more attractive to growers and industry. Read More
— Environment

Dwarf plants could reduce demands for water, fertilizer, nutrients and pesticides

By - May 16, 2012 1 Picture
Aside from arable land, most farm crops require significant amounts of water, fertilizer, nutrients and pesticides to grow. While specialized breeding is often used to help produce plants that require less of these inputs, Purdue University researcher Burkhard Schulz has found a way to create tiny versions of plants that suffer no reduction in yield through the addition of a cheap and widely available chemical. Read More
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