Root architecture discoveries could help breed drought-resistant crops

A freesia's root architecture helps the plant store food to survive seasonal weather conditions.

We should breed new varieties of crops based on their root architecture rather than just focusing on the top half of the plant, according to scientists looking at how to cultivate plants that use water more efficiently and better withstand drought conditions. Yellow, parched fields were a common sight in Europe this summer. The severe … Read more

Recharging soils with carbon could make farms more productive

Agriculture should be a good example of a circular economy, but modern farming practices and international markets have changed that.

Turning crop waste and discarded paper into a material called biochar could help to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil while also helping to enrich farmland. Agriculture has historically been a circular industry where crops use nutrients in the soil to grow which are then replaced through compost or manure. But globalisation … Read more

Indoor farms could fine-tune the flavours of our food

In the future, produce could be grown directly in supermarkets or restaurants.

A new way to farm indoors using different wavelengths of light could boost the taste of fruits, salads and herbs, while also increasing food supply and nutritional value. Growing food inside brings many benefits to farmers by reducing the amount of land, fertilisers, energy and water needed to cultivate the plants. But it can come … Read more

Decoding the honeybee dance could lead to healthier hives

Understanding the way bees and ants communicate might make it easier to protect them in the future.

Unravelling one of the most elaborate forms of non-human communication – the honeybee’s waggle dance – could help researchers better understand insect brains and make farming more environmentally friendly. It’s part of a field of work looking at insect neurology which is helping to unravel the complexity of their brains. Bees have evolved a unique, … Read more

Forensic accounting can predict future food fraud

Researchers are working on methods that are faster than laboratory tests to determine if food has been tampered with.

Food fraud, where different or low-quality food is deliberately mislabelled and sold as high-quality goods, risks the health of consumers as well as the economic viability of producers and manufacturers. To combat this, researchers have figured out that analysing the past and present behaviour of criminal activity could predict what they might target in the … Read more

Smart beehives and heat treatments could protect bees from decline

New technologies are being developed to protect beehives from theft, parasites and illnesses without the use of chemicals.

Since the mid-1980s, the number of bees in Europe has been in decline. Threatened by pesticides, insecticides and climate change, they are also being struck by infestations of mites and a crippling virus that deforms their wings. But new technology aims to take the sting out of the situation. The number of Varroa mites, a bee parasite, … Read more