Crops

Study: Crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields

Diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields, according to a new study that analyzed thousands of previously conducted experiments. Diversification practices such as crop rotations and planting prairie strips can lead to “win-win” results that protect the environment without sacrificing yields, according to the analysis.

New method to combat damage, help revive NY berry industry

Greg Loeb has been experimenting with a thin mesh covering, called exclusion netting, around berry crops as a means to prevent spotted wing drosophila (SWD) infestation. The efficacy of the netting is documented in a paper, “Factors Affecting the Implementation of Exclusion Netting to Control Drosophila Suzukii on Primocane Raspberry,” published in the journal Crop Protection.

Decline of Bees, Other Pollinators Threatens U.S. Crop Yields

Crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators, according to Rutgers-led research, the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. Most of the world’s crops depend on honeybees and wild bees for pollination, so declines in both managed and wild bee populations raise concerns about food security, notes the study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Geoengineering’s Benefits Limited for Apple Crops in India

Geoengineering – spraying sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to combat global warming – would only temporarily and partially benefit apple production in northern India, according to a Rutgers co-authored study. But abruptly ending geoengineering might lead to total crop failure faster than if geoengineering were not done, according to the study – believed to be the first of its kind – in the journal Climatic Change.

How to Tackle Climate Change, Food Security and Land Degradation

How can some of world’s biggest problems – climate change, food security and land degradation – be tackled simultaneously? Some lesser-known options, such as integrated water management and increasing the organic content of soil, have fewer trade-offs than many well-known options, such as planting trees, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Global Change Biology.

Juicy Genomics

When Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award winner Kendrick Lamar rapped “I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA,” he almost certainly wasn’t talking about the humble tomato. But a new study unveiling more than 230,000 DNA differences across 100 tomato varieties which will allow breeders and scientists to engineer larger, juicier, more profitable plants, proves that tomatoes indeed have riches buildin’ in their DNA, too.

Oyster Farming and Shorebirds Likely Can Coexist

Oyster farming as currently practiced along the Delaware Bayshore does not significantly impact four shorebirds, including the federally threatened red knot, which migrates thousands of miles from Chile annually, according to a Rutgers-led study. The findings, published in the journal Ecosphere, likely apply to other areas around the country including the West Coast and Gulf Coast, where oyster aquaculture is expanding, according to Rutgers experts who say the study can play a key role in identifying and resolving potential conflict between the oyster aquaculture industry and red knot conservation groups.

Oysters and Clams Can be Farmed Together

Eastern oysters and three species of clams can be farmed together and flourish, potentially boosting profits of shellfish growers, according to a Rutgers University–New Brunswick study. Though diverse groups of species often outperform single-species groups, most bivalve farms in the United States and around the world grow their crops as monocultures, notes the study in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

CT scanning wheat grains for stress tolerance

Scientists have developed a computed tomography (CT) scanning method for screening large samples of wheat for drought and heat tolerance. They believe the new system will allow more accurate and much more rapid analysis of wheat heads, speeding up the process of breeding for plants better adapted to climate change

Red Algae Thrive Despite Ancestor’s Massive Loss of Genes

You’d think that losing 25 percent of your genes would be a big problem for survival. But not for red algae, including the seaweed used to wrap sushi. An ancestor of red algae lost about a quarter of its genes roughly one billion years ago, but the algae still became dominant in near-shore coastal areas around the world, according to Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Debashish Bhattacharya, who co-authored a study in the journal Nature Communications.