Small farms produce more food than statistics show

Recording the true production levels of small farms could help farmers access greater support, according to researchers.

Small farms sometimes get overlooked as a feasible solution for feeding a growing population, but researchers say they should be given greater support, with some producing more food than official statistics report. While small farms can play an important role in supporting rural economies, many owners struggle to earn a decent living which can lead … Read more

Drones and satellite imaging to make forest protection pay

Image credit - lubasi, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Every year 7 million hectares of forest are cut down, chipping away at the 485 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) stored in trees around the world, but low-cost drones and new satellite imaging could soon protect these carbon stocks and help developing countries get paid for protecting their trees. ‘If you can measure the biomass you can … Read more

Bioeconomies aim to become a beating heart of local communities, both rural and urban

Firms such as Novamont in Italy are using renewable resources to develop bioplastics and biochemicals, through the use of biorefineries.

As the EU aims to head towards a sustainable, low-carbon future, experts in bio-based industries at the forefront of this transition are turning food waste and waste-water sludge into bioplastics and converting decommissioned factories into new biorefineries by working with local populations. According to figures cited in renewed EU plans for a circular bioeconomy, biobased … Read more

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