Agronomy for Sustainable Development



Landscape management, a new option to fight wireworms in maize crops

Crop-damaging wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles. Wireworms have emerged in Europe over the last 15 years. There is actually few efficient control solutions, and actual control options use toxic pesticides. There is therefore a need for safer control techniques. A survey of 341 maize fields by Saussure et al. shows that wireworm damage is decreased by the occurrence of hedges and cultivated crops at the maize field border. Whereas wireworm damage is increased by the occurrence of grassland at the maize field border or during the rotation.

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Safe control of banana-eating worm using a byproduct of sisal fabric production

The burrowing nematode, a worm, is damaging banana plantations worldwide. Actual control methods use toxic nematicides to kill the worm. Alternative control methods are therefore needed due to the high demand for safer and organic food.  Agronomists Jesus et al. found that an extract of sisal, a plant species growing in desert areas, is effective to contol nematodes.  This method is cheap  because the sisal extract is a byproduct of fiber and fabric production from the sisal plant.

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Phthalic acid ester contamination in chinese soils

Most plastic products contain phthalic acid esters that end up polluting water and soil after plastic degradation. Indeed, phthalic acid esters are endocrine disruptors. China is one of the largest consumers of phthalic acid esters. He et al. review the contamination of soils by phthalic acid esters. Findings show that the levels of phthalic acid esters in chinese soils are higher than recommended limits, thus contaminating vegetables. The main sources of phthalic acid esters in soils are plastic agricultural films, municipal biosolids, agricultural chemicals and wastewater irrigation.

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Better agricultural forecast using farmer knowledge

Simulation is a useful technique in agroecology to predict future climate and crop yields, for instance. However simulation research is rarely taking into account the knowledge from farmers and policy-makers. Such knowledge is essential to to achieve concrete results. Bellocchi et al. discuss the participation of actors in simulation research.

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Nanotech for better food, agriculture and water treatment

The recent development of nanoscience has led to the design of new materials of unprecedented properties. Agronomists Huang et al. review the applications of nanotechnologies for agriculture and food production. Examples include improvement of seed quality and plant growth, longer preservation of fruits and vegetables, livestock production, water disinfection, decrease of pesticide cost, and better fertilisation.

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Crop protection under a changing climate

Global warming is changing the geographical distribution of pests with, for instance, new insect pests appearing in previously uncontaminated areas. Scientists Lamichhane et al. propose seven recommendations to improve plant protection under a changing climate.

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Innovative Swiss agroforestry

Conventional monoculture systems are failing in the long run because they have been designed solely for higher yields and economic benefits, thus neglecting pollution, biodiversity loss and non-traded social benefits. Agroforestry appears as a solution. However, farmers are often reluctant to adopt tree-based systems despite incentives to do so. To understand why, Sereke et al. have studied agroforestry in Switzerland using collaborative research and bioeconomic assessment of farmer agroforestry innovations.

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Urban vegetable for food security

Urban agriculture will increase because more than 50% of the world population actually lives in cities, and local production is both socially and economically more efficient. Agronomists Eigenbrod and Gruda reviewed various urban agriculture systems. They found that growing vegetables in cities is particularly beneficial.

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