Crops

Efforts to increase crop yields are critical to meeting growing demands for food from a larger, wealthier population.

There are currently several research vacancies at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico:

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Early maize farmers selected for genes that improved the harvesting of sunlight, a new detailed study of how plants use 'doubles' of their genomes reveals. The findings could help current efforts to improve existing crop varieties.

report of the research is published this week in the journal Genome Research.

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Two environmental stewardship internships are currently available from the Sir Peter Elworthy Grant Programme:

GIS Analysis and Agriculture Graduate Internship 2014

International Agricultural Returns Internships 2014

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There is an iCASE BBSRC PhD studentship available in the Department of Zoology on insect control, resistance management and agricultural economics. The project is supervised by Dr Mike Bonsall.

Application Deadline: 15 March 2013

Find out more: http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=43645&LID=1268

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Technology Strategy Board: Engineering solutions to enhance agri-food production

COMPETITION FOR COLLABORATIVE R&D FUNDING JULY 2013

The Technology Strategy Board, together with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and Scottish Government, is offering up to £13m for businesses to develop engineering solutions across the agri-food supply chain.

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New research published in Nature by Dan Bebber, Mark Ramotowski and Sarah Gurr (a past member of our Food Research Network) shows a shift towards the poles in observations of hundreds of pests and pathogens, which supports the hypothesis of global warming-driven pest movement.

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This lecture, held last week, is now available to watch or listen to on the Oxford Martin School website:

Oxford Martin School Webcasts

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Following the release last year of the report on ‘Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture’ by the Food Climate Research Network and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, around 30 experts in this field, from academic, governmental, NGO and industrial organisations, were asked to give their comments on the report.

They were asked two key questions:

  1. Where has the report helped resolve issues, and where it is misguided or simply wrong?
  2. How should we move forward, and what is required for sustainable intensification to become a concept useful for those charged with implementing policy?

These comments have all been compiled into a report which can be downloaded here:

Comments on Report

However, before reading them, we suggest you first read the original report.

Science will be publishing an article by the authors on sustainable intensification on July 5th 2013. If you are interested in reading it, please check back here then, or sign up to our newsletters (FCRN and Future of Food).

You can find out more about our work on Sustainable Intensification on our Sustainable Intensification webpage.

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Fertilisation of grasslands significantly reduces their ability to cope with changing conditions even when they contain a diverse mix of plants, finds a global study involving Oxford University. The research, published this week in Nature, showed that diverse grasslands were more stable over time but that this effect was weakened when the plots were artificially fertilised.

"More diverse areas are generally more stable because different plants will benefit from different things at different times," said Professor Andrew Hector of Oxford University's Department of Plant Sciences, senior author of the study. "To take a simple example, if you have plants that thrive in heavy rain and plants that prefer lighter rain in the same field, then the total amount of plant matter in the field in a given year will be less dependent on rainfall as both types will balance each other out."

Fertilisers are known to drive down grassland diversity over time, but this study found that fertilised plots were less stable even before their diversity decreased. This effect was not expected based on previous results. As fertilisation boosts total yields, it was expected to increase short-term stability by making small variations less significant. However, the study found that fertilisation disproportionately increased yearly variations in yield, particularly in the most diverse grasslands.

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SWFF Grants Round 3

In March 2015, Securing Water for Food announced its third call for innovations. This $12.5 million call for proposals focuses on identifying market-driven, low-cost, and scalable solutions that will enable us to improve water efficiency and wastewater reuse; enhance water capture and storage; and reduce the impacts of salinity on aquifers and food production. 

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