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The Sahara Desert has millions of trees!

05 November 2020
A recent analysis of a database of satellite images using artificial intelligence revealed that there are over 1.8 billion trees and shrubs with a crown size more than 3 square metres in size across a 1.3 million square kilometre area of West Africa and Sahel. The analysis also allows scientists to determine how much carbon is stored in deserts, a factor that is not currently included when modelling for climate change related research.

Japanese farmers may benefit from rising global temperatures

07 September 2020
Rising global temperatures have extended the growing season in Southern Japan, making two rice crops possible through a farming technique known as rice rattooning. In this technique, the first crop is harvested, and the stubble allowed to grow back to form a second crop. Researchers found that after harvesting the first crop and cutting the plants at a high height for regrowth as a second crop resulted in 3-fold higher rice yield compared to traditional farming methods.

'Bee' thankful for the bumblebees

02 June 2020
Climate changes results in the disruption of timing between the plants and their pollinators. Researchers from ETH Zurich discovered that bumblebees may help to overcome these challenges by biting leaves of the plants that have not flowered yet, to stimulate the new flower production when pollen is scarce. Click here to read more.

Ancient date palm seeds found and grown after 2,000 years

25 May 2020
Seven date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) have been grown from among hundreds of seeds found in caves and in the ruins of an ancient palace built in the 1st century BC in the Judean desert near Jerusalem. The seeds were radiocarbon dated to be close to 2,000 years of age, making them the oldest seeds ever germinated. Click the title above to read more. The ancient seeds were prepared by soaking them in water, adding hormones that encourage germination and rooting, then planting them in soil in a quarantined area. Genetic analysis showed that several of them came from female date palms that were pollinated by male palms from different areas. This hints that the ancient Judean people cultivated the palms using sophisticated plant breeding techniques, producing the best tasting dates that are popular in the culture and religions of the Middle East and also symbolic of oasis agriculture.

Little Coffee Heroes

03 April 2020
Coffee leaf rust has been a significant challenge for coffee producers since 1980s. Recently, a field research in the lush central mountains of Puerto Rico found that the Asian tramps snails (Bradybaena similaris) prey on the rust. Ironically, these snails are labelled as notorious pests of many crops such as citrus, grapes, legumes and vegetables. However, the presence of the fungal parasite - Lecanicullium lecanii on the affected leaves creates competition, shifting the snails’ focus towards the rust. This preliminary finding is essential to develop a long term solution that manages the snail’s population while suppressing the rust damage on coffee.