Agronomy for Sustainable Development



The fragile weed-bee affair

A million-years old relationship has been established between bees and weed flowers. Weeds indeed provide food to bees in the form of tasty pollen, and bees carry pollen from plant to plant to ensure pollination, weed reproduction and diversity. This win-win relationship is endangered by industrial agriculture practices such as weed control and the use of insecticides. Scientists Rollin et al. review agricultural practices that modify weed-bee long-standing collaboration.

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Micronutrients for healthy food production

Industrial agriculture has favoured almost solely the production of for-profit high-yield crops by selecting high-yield cultivars, and adding massively mineral NPK fertilisers and pesticides. Such an approch has led to many negative consequences, such as food and water contamination, pest- and climate-sensitive crops, and food depleted in micronutrients (and taste). Dimkpa et al. review the role of micronutrients such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and Zinc (Zn), for crop protection against pest and drought.

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Major agricultural issues in Central Asia

Climate change is forecasted to impact deeply agricultural and food production in the next decades. Actually there is few knowledge on the major issues faced by farmers in Central Asia. Therefore agronomists Hamidov et al. reviewed 362 scientific papers published from 2008 to 2013. They classified the papers into three categories: environmental, economic and social issues. They found that the major issues of land use are the quality of air, soil, minerals and water; ecosystem services for fertilisation and food production; and biomass and energy.

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Farmer tools for ecological move

Issues such as food contamination by toxic pesticides have fostered the need to develop safer cropping. Farmers are thus trying to implement alternative ecological practices, but the results of such changes, either positive or negative, is so far not clear. Therefore agronomists Toffolini et al. have analyzed indicators of ecological change to provide guidelines.

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How plants adapt to salt and drought?

Safflower is a major crop used for flavoring foods, dyes, livestock feeds and medicine. However, safflower production is threatened by climate change that increases soil salinity and drought. To solve this issue, plant scientists Hussein et al. review the mechanisms of the impact of drought and salt on plants, and the strategies to enhance safflower resistance.

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Deficit irrigation to save water in agriculture

Agriculture consumes more than two-thirds of the planet freshwater. As a consequence there are conflicts of freshwater allocation between agriculture and other water users. There is therefore a need for advanced methods to save water in agriculture. Scientists Gan et al. found that regulated deficit irrigation is an alternative method that saves large amounts of water without yield decrease. Moreover, deficit irrigation enhances plant adaptation to drought stress.

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We need sustainable soybean production

Industrial production of soybean developed in the Argentinean Pampa since the 1990s is not sustainable. Specifically, herbicide use creates glyphosate-tolerant weeds and pollutes waters. To solve this issue scientists Salembier et al. designed a method to identify alternative practices developed by farmers. These alternative practices include diversification of crop rotations, occasional return to tillage, and low pesticide use.

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Why farmers stop legume production in Europe ?

Legume farming has many benefits such as natural fertilisation by fixation of air nitrogen. However, grain legume production is decreasing in Europe, whereas Europe imports legumes, mainly soybean, to meet protein needs. To understand why farmers stop producing legumes in Luxemburg, Zimmer et al. surveyed farmer knowledge and issues of grain legume cultivation.

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