Across Africa, armies of hungry caterpillars destroy the flowers and pods of cowpeas; casualties can reach 80 percent of this staple food crop if no measures are taken. But the real victims are smallholder African farmers who feed their families on farms smaller than five acres. Next year, they will have the option to grow cowpeas that are resistant to one of these pests.
You may be aware of bottlenecks in your work environment, but did you know that even plants have bottlenecks? What if there was a productivity coach for plants? Someone who could give them all of the secrets to being faster, greener and more productive? Someone who could whisper secrets into plant DNA so that they could transform sunlight into a bigger, better plant self…to be eaten by humans of course.
A research team from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I) is working on a project that might eventually change the world: tackling the growing issue of world hunger through increased crop yields.
Researchers at the University of Illinois are taking the basics of photosynthesis miles farther in Urbana-Champaign test plots and greenhouses — intervening in the process, through which plants use sunlight to produce energy, to create higher yields.
Don’t let the names fool you; FRED and WILMA are anything but Stone Age. FRED (field roving evaluation device) and partner WILMA (wagon for the investigation of leaves using multispectral analysis), and their respective Ph.D. creators at the University of Illinois, Katherine Meacham and Caitlin Moore, collectively gather much more information much faster than individual scientists clipping light sensors on leaves one at a time.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, farmers will need to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9.2 billion people.That's a problem, said Donald Ort, associate director of the RIPE project at the University of Illinois, which is exploring ways to meet this challenge.
RIPE Project Associate Director Don Ort discusses field trials that have shown increased biomass in tobacco plants from genetic modification of photosynthesis.
How do you feed 7 billion people? How do you grow that much food? That’s the question that confronts plant biologists. As the world population continues to grow, and change, researchers like RIPE Director Stephen Long are looking for more ways to grow more food, more quickly.
Throughout the growing season seemingly benign clouds pass over millions of acres of crops and inadvertently rob plants of their productivity, costing untold bushels of potential yield. Researchers recently reported in the journal Science that they have engineered a solution and increased the productivity of a crop in the field by 14- 20 percent—they believe this fix could be applied to staple food crops to help meet future global food demands.
What root vegetable is toxic eaten raw but a hunger quencher when cooked, and provides both tapioca flour and the pearls in bubble tea? This question probably will stump many Americans, but is easy for people in the developing world.