The Plant nutrition courier newsletter publishes six times a year about plant nutrition related research. On this news page we give previews and we post plant nutrition related news that is beyond the scope of the newsletter but that still may be of interest.
 
Student test with glyphosate put scientists on wrong track

  10-07-2019  

Click here for the special interest issue with the full reconctruction   Glyphosate has much less influence on nutrients in crops than has been thought for years. A small-scale student test is the likely cause of misconceptions about this herbicide. This is apparent from a reconstruction of two decades of research into the effects of glyphosate on nutrients in crops, carried out by the popular scientific magazine Plant nutrition courier . Glyphosate binds to calcium and magnesium, manganese and zinc. Other nutrients such as copper and iron can also be chelated (sequestered) by this active ingredient. Researchers disagree about the circumstances under which this occurs: only in the sprayer tank, or also in plants. The controversy can be traced to a small-scale student test, according to a reconstruction of two decades...

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Studentenproef met glyfosaat zette wetenschappers op verkeerde been

  10-07-2019  

Klik hier voor het themanummer met de volledige reconstructie Glyfosaat heeft veel minder invloed op voedingsstoffen in gewassen dan jarenlang is gedacht. Een kleinschalige studentenproef is de vermoedelijke oorzaak van misvattingen over dit onkruidbestrijdingsmiddel. Dat blijkt uit een reconstructie van twee decennia onderzoek naar effecten van glyfosaat op voedingsstoffen in gewassen, uitgevoerd door het populair-wetenschappelijke magazine Plant nutrition courier . Glyfosaat bindt zich aan calcium en magnesium, mangaan en zink. Ook andere voedingsstoffen zoals koper en ijzer kunnen door dit onkruidbestrijdingsmiddel worden gebonden. Onderzoekers verschillen van mening over de omstandigheden waaronder dit verschijnsel zich voordoet: alleen in de tank met spuitvloeistof, of ook in planten. De controverse is te herleiden...

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Seed dressing with micronutrients mitigates stress effects

  23-12-2016  

Seed treatment with well-chosen micronutrients is a promising approach to mitigate different forms of stress, according to researchers in the Plant nutrition courier. Other studies reviewed in this popular scientific magazine cover seed potato treatment with phosphorus. It is a cold spring. The maize seedlings on the field are pale yellow from the stress, because the temperature is too low for a smooth start of the crop. The low temperature in the root zone severely reduces root growth, but also limits nutrient acquisition and nutrient uptake. A trace of well-chosen micronutrients on the seeds would help the suffering seedlings through this period of growth stagnation. The micronutrients can be applied through the usual seed dressing techniques, according to experiments reported in the Plant nutrition courier . Micronutrients...

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Smartphone spoort gebreksziekte in gewas vroegtijdig op

  03-08-2016  

Agrariërs kunnen binnenkort met hun smartphone vroegtijdig voedingstekorten in hun gewassen opsporen. Dat verwacht de wetenschappelijke nieuwsbrief Plant nutrition courier na analyse van de ontwikkelingen op het gebied van sensoren en van apps voor mobiele telefoons en tablets. Het gewas staat er op het oog kerngezond bij. Aan de frisgroene kleur valt niet af te lezen dat de planten een groeiend tekort hebben aan een essentiële voedingsstof. Gebreksziekten veroorzaken echter al schade, voordat de eerste verschijnselen aan de planten zijn af te lezen. Alleen een dure fluorescentiemeter kan in dit stadium het tekort ter plekke aantonen. Een smartphone of tablet met de juiste app kan binnenkort hetzelfde, meldt de Plant nutrition courier . De ontwikkeling van gevoelige sensoren en geavanceerde apps gaat snel, zo blijkt...

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Better soil data key for future food security

  21-06-2016  

Future food security depends on a variety of factors – but better soil data could substantially help improve projections of future crop yields, a new study shows. To project how much food can be produced in the future, researchers use agricultural models that estimate crop yield, or how much of a crop can be produced in a certain amount of space. These models take into account factors like climate and weather variability, irrigation, fertiliser, and soil type. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications shows that the type of soil used in such a model can often outweigh the effects of weather variability - such as year to year changes in rainfall and temperature. The study is the first global assessment of the importance of soils in global crop models. In particular, it shows that for yield projections in...

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Torrefied biomass improves poor soil

  17-06-2016  

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan have shown that torrefied biomass can improve the quality of poor soil found in arid regions. Published in Scientific Reports , the study showed that adding torrefied biomass to poor soil from Botswana increased water retention in the soil as well as - the amount of plant growth. When high temperatures and the absence of oxygen are used to bring about the decomposition of biomass residue from agricultural products such as grains, the result is a charcoal-rich substance called biochar. Torrefied biomass - sometimes called bio-coal - is a type of biochar made at relatively lower temperatures that has recently received attention as a pretreatment method for biomass utilization. In order to characterize the biological properties of soil treated with biochar,...

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700-year-old West African soil technique could help mitigate climate change

  16-06-2016  

A farming technique practised for centuries by villagers in West Africa, which converts nutrient-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland, could be the answer to mitigating climate change and revolutionising farming across Africa. A global study led by the University of Sussex which included anthropologists and soil scientists from Cornell, Accra, and Aarhus Universities and the Institute of Development Studies has for the first-time identified and analysed rich fertile soils found in Liberia and Ghana. They discovered that the ancient West African method of adding charcoal and kitchen waste to highly weathered, nutrient poor tropical soils transforms the land into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils which the researchers dub 'African Dark Earths'. Read more Source: University of Sussex

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Using espresso machines to do chemistry

  15-06-2016  

Many chemists are familiar with taking trips to the espresso machine while running late-night experiments, but until now these excursions were merely undertaken for the caffeine boost. A Spanish research group recently reported in ACS' Analytical Chemistry , however, that espresso machines can quickly and inexpensively perform some complex chemistry experiments, such as testing for harmful compounds in the environment. Read more Source: American Chemical Society

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Bacteria in branches naturally fertilise trees

  20-05-2016  

University of Washington plant microbiologist Sharon Doty, along with her team of undergraduate and graduate students and staff, has demonstrated that poplar trees growing in rocky, inhospitable terrain harbor bacteria within them that could provide valuable nutrients to help the plant grow. Their findings, which could have implications for agriculture crop and bioenergy crop productivity, were published in the journal PLOS ONE . The researchers found that microbial communities are highly diverse, varying dramatically even in cuttings next to each other. "This variability made it especially difficult to quantify the activity, but is the key to the biology since it is probably only specific groupings of microorganisms that are working together to provide this nutrient to the host," said Doty, a professor in the UW School...

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Farms have become a major air-pollution source

  16-05-2016  

A new study says that emissions from farms outweigh all other human sources of fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China. The culprit: fumes from nitrogen-rich fertilisers and animal waste that combine in the air with industrial emissions to form solid particles - a huge source of disease and death. The good news: if industrial emissions decline in coming decades, as most projections say, fine-particle pollution will go down even if fertilizer use doubles as expected. The study appeared in the journal Geophysical Research Letters . Agricultural air pollution comes mainly in the form of ammonia, which enters the air. It then combines with pollutants from combustion - mainly nitrogen oxides and sulphates from vehicles, power plants and industrial processes - to create tiny solid particles,...

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Phosphorus ‘tax’ could be huge if tropical farming intensifies

  18-04-2016  

If the world turns to intensive farming in the tropics to meet food demand, it will require vast amounts of phosphorus fertiliser, a new analysis shows. One way to feed the globe’s growing population is to ramp up intensive farming in tropical regions, but doing so will require a lot of fertiliser - particularly phosphorus. This is not only because it is often present at very low levels in tropical soils, but also because many of these soils bind added phosphorus fertiliser, making it less available to crops. A new study in Nature Plants estimates that intensifying farming on the world’s phosphorus binding soils could annually sequester in soil 1 to 4 million metric tons of phosphorus fertiliser. For comparison, approximately 2 million metric tons of fertiliser phosphorus are used in North America each year....

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Copper sulphate is toxic to stingless bees

  11-04-2016  

Copper sulphate has been used in agriculture since the 1800s, at least. It is widely used as a fungicide on organic and conventional crops, and it is also used as foliar fertiliser. A study from the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil has found that copper sulfate, when used as a leaf fertilizer, is lethal to the native Brazilian bee known as Friesella schrottkyi . In addition, the study, which was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology , found that sublethal exposure also affected the bee's behaviour. Read more Source: Entomological Society of America

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Researchers find key to zinc rich plants to combat malnutrition

  11-04-2016  

The diet in many developing countries is lacking zinc, but researchers have just solved the riddle of how to get more zinc into crop seeds. The discovery has been published in Nature Plants , and the research was led by University of Copenhagen. A milestone has been reached in the research of zinc loading in crop seeds with large potential benefits to people in the developing world. A team of scientists, led by Professor Michael Broberg Palmgren from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at University of Copenhagen, has just published an article about their findings in Nature Plants , which might well lead the way to growing crops with more zinc accumulated in the seeds. Michael Broberg Palmgren explains about the breakthrough: “We have identified the specific system of transport in the plant cells...

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Mapping the alarming loss of phosphorus in global grasslands

  09-03-2016  

Grasslands in large parts of the world are getting little if any fertiliser, which is leading to soil exhaustion. Farmers will have to apply four times as much phosphorus fertilisation in 2050 in order to make the soil fertile again. Only then will there be sufficient grass and hay to produce enough milk and meat for the rapidly growing global population, writes Martin van Ittersum, Professor in Plant Production Systems in Wageningen, in trade magazine Nature Communications . Read more Source: Wageningen UR

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How much fertiliser is too much for the climate?

  10-06-2014  

Helping farmers around the globe apply more-precise amounts of nitrogen-based fertiliser can help combat climate change. These fertilisers spur greenhouse gas emissions by stimulating microbes in the soil to produce more nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas, behind only carbon dioxide and methane and also destroys stratospheric ozone. Agriculture accounts for around 80 percent of human-caused nitrous oxide emissions worldwide, which have increased substantially in recent years, primarily due to increased nitrogen fertiliser use. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Michigan State University researchers provide an improved prediction of nitrogen fertiliser’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields. The study uses data from...

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As CO2 levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall

  09-05-2014  

As carbon dioxide levels rise, grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today. Researchers from eight institutions in Australia, Israel, Japan and the United States found that these crops will have significantly reduced zinc and iron concentrations at the elevated levels of atmospheric CO 2 anticipated by around 2050. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Nature (see abstract ). The researchers looked at multiple varieties of wheat, rice, field peas, soybeans, maize and sorghum grown in fields with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels like those expected in the middle of this century; atmospheric CO 2 concentrations are currently approaching 400 parts per million and are expected to rise to 550 ppm by 2050. The results showed a significant decrease in the concentrations of zinc,...

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Food security may be increased by new agricultural production modeling

  05-05-2014  

Predicting crop yields based on climate, planting and other variables can help regions optimize their limited resources. Farmers are used to optimizing crop production on their own lands. They do soil tests to choose the right amount of fertilisers to apply and they sometimes plant row crops on some fields while keeping others in pasture. But is it possible to optimize production across a much bigger area? That’s the question a team of USDA-ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Lab scientists in Beltsville (USA) has begun to tackle by developing a sophisticated new modeling tool. Known as the Geospatial Agricultural Management and Crop Assessment Framework , the tool brings together crop models that estimate plant growth and crop yield at scales as fine as 30 meters (90 feet), with spatial sources of information on soils,...

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Nitrogen-tracking tools for better crops and less pollution

  19-02-2014  

Finding a way to improve nitrogen uptake in crops could improve yields and decrease risks to environmental and human health. Nitrogen is primarily taken up from the soil by the roots and assimilated by the plant to become part of DNA, proteins, and many other compounds. Uptake is controlled by a number of factors, including availability, demand, and the plant's energy status. But there is much about the transport proteins involved in the process that isn't understood. New work from Carnegie's Cheng-Hsun Ho and Wolf Frommer developed tools that could help scientists observe the nitrogen-uptake process in real time and could lead to developments that improve agriculture and the environment. It will be published by eLife on March 11 and is already available online . Frommer had previously developed technology to spy on...

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Magnesium may protect against hip fractures

  19-02-2014  

Drinking water with a relatively high concentration of magnesium protects against hip fractures, according to results of a study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health . There are considerable variations in the quality of drinking water in Norway. The researchers studied variations in magnesium and calcium levels in drinking water between different areas, as these are assumed to have a role in the development of bone strength. They wanted to examine whether there was a correlation between magnesium and calcium concentrations in drinking water and the incidence of hip fracture. The study results show that magnesium protects against hip fracture for both men and women. The researchers found no independent protective effect of calcium. Read more Source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health

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Worldwide study finds that nitrogen destabilizes grasslands

  17-02-2014  

Nitrogen could be too much of a good thing for the world's grasslands, according to study findings published online by the journal Nature. The worldwide study shows that, on average, additional nitrogen will increase the amount of grass that can be grown. But a smaller number of species thrive, crowding out others that are better adapted to survive in harsher times. It results in wilder swings in the amount of available forage. The Nature article is one of several research articles on the relationships between grassland diversity, productivity and stability, generated by the Nutrient Network experiment . The three-year study monitored real-world grasslands at 41 locations on five continents. The sites included alpine grasslands in China, tallgrass prairies in the United States, pasture in Switzerland, savanna in Tanzania and...

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