CROPS VIDEO LIBRARY
CROPS VIDEO LIBRARY
Crops Video Library
Co-Founders Rob Burleigh and Francis Dodds share their knowledge and insights into agricultural science.
Did you know that it has been estimated that maize yields need to be increased up to 60% by 2050 to feed our ever-growing population?
In this short video Francis Dodds, Editorial Director at Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, introduces our two volume collection on 'Achieving sustainable cultivation of maize' which addresses the challenges the maize industry faces.
Find out more about these two publications by visiting our online Bookshop.
October has been host to two international rice conferences - the 7th International Rice Blast Conference and the 5th International Conference on Bacterial Blight of Rice. Both conferences were held by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Manila, Philippines and shared a wealth of information from the industry and keynote speakers.
We're delighted to have two upcoming publications on rice, 'Achieving sustainable cultivation of rice (Volumes 1 & 2)', both edited by Professor Takuji Sasaki. Francis discusses the two volumes and their content in this week's video.
Next week is host to the very 1st International Apple Symposium, being held in Yangling, Shaanxi, China. We're delighted to have contributing author, Cameron Peace, in attendance. Cameron contributed to our upcoming publication, 'Achieving sustainable cultivation of apples', and will be giving a presentation based on the chapter he wrote with Kate Evans, editor of the book, at the Symposium next week.
Find out more about the book ahead of the event from Burleigh Dodds' Editorial Director, Francis Dodds, in our latest video.
Fusarium is one of the most serious diseases affecting wheat. The following video explores how Fusarium is being tackled by one of the world’s leading centres in agricultural science, Rothamsted Research.
15 August 2016
At the recent Cereals 16 trade event we heard from two UK based farmers about the challenges of soil health and the problems of over cultivation. In this week’s video we explain more about those challenges and the solutions being put forward.
1 August 2016
We were delighted to have Francis and Martin from the Burleigh Dodds team attend the excellent Cereals 2016 last month. Francis’ latest video gives a rundown on the ‘3 big themes’ he took away from the event.
25 July 2016
In addition to both our crop and livestock publications, we are looking at themes that cut across individual crops, such as weed management. Our collection, 'Integrated weed management for sustainable agriculture' edited by Prof. Robert Zimdahl, can help achieve smarter weed management for more productive and sustainable agriculture.
18 July 2016
As part of our climate•SMART•publishing series, Francis Dodds, Editorial Director at Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing explains how our forthcoming books will assist in making climate-smart agriculture a reality.
4 July 2016
This week is host to Cereals 2016, the technical event for the arable industry.
We're delighted to have Editorial Director, Francis Dodds, attending the event on Thursday 16th June, where he will be catching up with fellow delegates and attending seminars.
We look forward to seeing you there!
13 June 2016
In the past, weed control has relied heavily on the use of herbicides which account for the majority of pesticide use in countries such as the US. However, herbicides suffer from a number of disadvantages, including residues in food and the environment and growing herbicide resistance among weed species. As a result, governments (e.g. in EU) are seeking to reduce overall pesticide use. There are now over 450 confirmed cases of weed species showing resistance to herbicides with particular problems in wheat, maize, rice and soybean. This has resulted in growing pressure to reduce the high levels of herbicide use which enable resistance to emerge. The use of alternative techniques is of obvious importance in organic agriculture where herbicides are prohibited.
This is the challenge addressed by integrated weed management (IWM). A simple definition of IWM is ‘the use of more than one weed management tactic (biological, chemical, cultural or physical)’ (Harker and O’Donovan 2013). IWM includes herbicides as one part of a broader array of cultural, mechanical and biological methods of control. The basic goal of IWM is to restrict weed growth until a crop is sufficiently well-established (e.g. in the development of crop canopy cover) that it can outcompete weeds.
Cultural IWM techniques include:
Use of more competitive varieties, mixing cultivars, the use of pest or herbicide-resistant varieties
Use of clean or herbicide-coated seed to help prevent the introduction of weeds as well as their spread
Cultivation techniques such as: different tillage practices, the use of stale seedbeds, changing planting timing and density, the use of mulching
Selective promotion of crop root health such as better fertiliser use and application (e.g. in timing and more targeted application) which benefits crops rather than weeds
Use of rotations, intercropping and cover crops
Physical methods include:
Mechanical weeding (e.g. inter-row weeding machines)
Soil solarisation (heating the soil to supress weeds using mulches and plastic sheeting)
Biological tools include:
Exploiting the allelopathic properties of plants (in preventing or slowing weed seed germination and growth)
Bio-herbicides, use of fungi and bacteria or insects
Chemical techniques (sometimes known as integrated herbicide management) involving using different types of herbicide in different ways at different points: pre-plant incorporated, pre-emergence, post-emergence, tank mixtures or sequential applications.
An example of IWM in practice is the control of Striga (also known as witchweed), a parasitic weed attacking cereal crops such as maize, sorghum and millet which has infested an estimated 50 million hectares of land in sub-Saharan Africa (see: http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/51849).
Techniques to control Striga include:
The development of Striga-resistant maize varieties by international research groups such as IITA and CIMMYT and national research organisations such as Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
Crop rotation or intercropping e.g. with legumes or soybean
Use of fungi for biological contol
The success of IWM can be seen in trials in Northern Nigeria using a combination of Striga-resistant varieties in rotation with legumes (with allelopathic properties) which has reduced weed density by up to 50% and increased overall crop productivity by over 90%.
Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing is supporting IWM by:
Commissioning and publishing individual chapters on IWM for particular crops such as wheat and maize
Developing a comprehensive review of principles and techniques in IWM: Integrated weed management for sustainable agriculture, edited by Emeritus Professor Robert Zimdahl of Colorado State University, USA
In this way we are building a rich resource of reference material on IWM for the benefit of the research community.
To preview what we are developing, click here and read an excerpt from our chapter on Integrated weed management in wheat cultivation by K. Neil Harker and John O ’ Donovan, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada; and Breanne Tidemann, University of Alberta, Canada.
A version of this blog can be found with supporting references here.
We aim to support researchers in maize cultivation achieve this by:
Commissioning individual reviews of key topics from leading experts in their field
Bringing these experts and reviews together into an overall framework which puts each review in context of maize cultivation as a whole
An example of an individual review is a recently completed chapter on advances inmycotoxinresistant maize varieties commissioned from a leading expert in the field (see sample material here). Based on reviewing and contextualising the key research (in this case through almost 70 references), the chapter includes features such as:
A clear structure to guide researchers through the subject, from the introduction through key challenges to techniques to resolve them
Case studies illustrating how research can be implemented in practice
‘Future trends’ and ‘Where to look for further information’ sections which help readers to investigate a topic further for themselves
Edited by Dr Dave Watson, Manager of the CGIAR’s Maize Research Program, our brand new volumes on maize bring together these individual reviews from some of the world’s leading experts:
Achieving sustainable cultivation of maize Volume 1: From improved varieties to local applications
Achieving sustainable cultivation of maize Volume 2: Cultivation techniques, pest and disease control
Volume 1 covers:
Advances in understanding of plant physiology which help us to understand what determines crop growth and how plants respond to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Ensuring genetic diversity, by identifying and conserving wild species, which is seen as essential for future breeding, e.g. by exploiting the genes which allow wild plants to survive harsh conditions or resist disease.
The use of genetics in maize breeding which has helped to accelerate new varieties with desirable traits such as: higher yield varieties (including improved nitrogen uptake), heat anddrought tolerance, mycotoxin resistance, improved iron content, or enhanced protein, starch or oil content
Since all these innovations will have limited impact if they are not taken up by farmers, particularly smallholders in developing countries where yield need to improve most, market and other constraints and ways of supporting smallholder access to seed, training and resources
Improved varieties need good husbandry. Volume 2 goes on to cover:
Seed variety selection and quality control
Conservation agricultural techniques (such as maximising soil health)
Improved nutrient and irrigation management
Cultivation techniques such as intercropping
Mechanisation to save labour
Better understanding and management of pests and diseases
With these two volumes we have created a standard reference for maize researchers and an essential foundation for future research.
An estimated 60 million tonnes of pulses are produced annually in around 55 countries. Developing countries are the largest producers of pulses, accounting for 70% of global production. Asia accounts for over 25% of production, followed by Africa, Europe, Latin and North America. Major producers include India, China, Pakistan, Canada, Brazil and Australia. Up to 25% of pulses are used as an animal feed (particularly for pigs and poultry) with the majority used for food.
Grain legumes are an important crop in the developing world for a number of reasons. They are a particularly rich source of protein, consisting of up to 25% of protein by weight, double the protein content of wheat and triple that of rice. They are also a source of fibre, amino acids, minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus) and B-vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and folate), and have a low fat content. Their antioxidant content has also been linked to the prevention of chronic diseases and obesity.
In addition, pulses grow rapidly, often in relatively poor soils, require a fraction of the water required by many other crops and are easily stored without losing their nutritional value. This and their ability to fix nitrogen and improve soil health (with less need for fertilisers) makes them a key cover, intercropping or rotation crop in the sustainable intensification and diversification of smallholder farming. Using pulses in rotation with cereals has been shown, for example, to increase cereal yield and protein content. This makes pulses a key food security crop in the developing world as well as contributing to a more sustainable, climate-smart agriculture.
Yields in developing countries are low (at under 40% of those in the developed world) as a result of such factors as the need for improved varieties of seed, poor seed distribution, the impact of pests and diseases, as well as vulnerability to poor soils, drought and other effects of climate change.
To achieve these goals, the cultivation of staple crops such as maize needs to achieve ‘more with less’ i.e. to increase output but with fewer inputs if it is to be truly sustainable. The answer to what seems a paradox lies in agriculture becoming smarter. Research is focussing on the various ways of achieving this.
Climate-smart research topics under the heading of ‘Adaptation’ include:
Improving climate risk prediction in maize cultivation
Advances in our understanding of plant physiology e.g. the ways plants respond and adapt to environmental stresses
Protecting the genetic diversity of maize, for example by conserving and exploiting wild species which may be better suited to harsher environments
Developing new varieties of maize able to respond to the effects of climate change e.g. heat and drought-tolerant maize varieties
Topics under the ‘Mitigation’ heading include:
Developing higher-yield maize varieties or, for example, varieties with improved nitrogen uptake Defining and implementing good agricultural practice in sustainable maize cultivation
Precision farming techniques to make more efficient use of inputs such as water or fertiliser (e.g. site-specific nutrient management)
Ways of maintaining soil health for more sustainable, low-input cultivation (e.g. zero-till cultivation, mulching, crop rotations, intercropping such as maize-legume systems)
Advances in drying and storage of harvested maize to reduce post-harvest losses (e.g. lowcost pest-proof hermetic storage grain silos)
Topics under the heading of ‘Enhanced security’ include:
Bio-fortification to improve the nutritional value of maize
Improving the protein, starch and oil content of maize to add value to the crop
Understanding and overcoming market and other constraints in the take-up of new techniques in maize cultivation in developing countries
Ways of supporting smallholders in maize cultivation such as access to new varieties
Regional strategies for supporting smallholder cultivation in in Africa, Asia and South America
Topics which cut across more than one category include:
Breeding: both ‘conventional’ techniques, such as cross-breeding hybrid varieties and doubled haploid (DH) breeding technology, or the use of new genetic techniques, such as marker-assisted breeding and genome wide selection (GWS)
Pests and diseases, ranging from advances in pest and disease-resistant maize varieties to integrated pest management (IPM) and biological control strategies for the control of maize pests such as push-pull technology
Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing is supporting this research in a number of ways. These include an innovative new subject page for maize , with a range of useful information for researchers, and a major two-volume review of key research trends in maize (edited by Dr David Watson - CGIAR Maize Research Program Manager):
Achieving sustainable cultivation of maize Volume 1: From improved varieties to local applications Achieving sustainable cultivation of maize Volume 2: Cultivation techniques, pest and disease control
See (here) for further details of what promises to be a standard work in its field. Together we hope to achieve the goal of truly climate-smart maize cultivation.
So what is SRI? It had an unlikely origin in the work of a Jesuit priest, Father Henri De Laulanié, working in Madagascar in the 1980s. By working with local farmers, he came up with a series of practical steps to improve rice yields. Some of these steps seemed counter intuitive, such as achieving much higher crop yields by significantly reducing planting density and water use. Scientists now realise SRI works because it encourages stronger root systems and canopy development whilst protecting soil health. This reflects our rapidly expanding understanding of soils and their complex interactions with plants.
From its humble origins in Madagascar, SRI has spread to around 60 countries, from irrigated to rainfed rice systems, and from rice to other crops such as wheat, millet, sugarcane, legumes and vegetables. SRI contributes to climate smart agriculture by reducing inputs such as seed, fertiliser and water, producing plants which are more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses, conserving soil health and biodiversity as well as reducing emissions
Burleigh Dodds has commissioned a review of the key research on SRI by its leading exponent, Professor Norman Uphoff of Cornell University, which will be published in 2016.
Maize is a good example of both the challenges faced by agriculture and the ways those challenges can be addressed. It has been estimated that yields of cereals such as maize need to increase by 2.4% per year to meet rising demand. However, yields must increase without contributing further to global warming, not least because maize is particularly vulnerable to more extreme weather conditions (such as drought) associated with climate change.
The ‘Push-pull’ cropping system is one solution to this challenge. Jointly developed by The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Rothamsted Research and other partners, the system uses companion cropping (e.g. of grasses) with maize to reduce insect pests and weeds, sustainably improving maize yields whilst providing other benefits to smallholders.
Maize yields can be substantially reduced by pests such as stem borer moth larvae and the parasitic Striga weed, as well as by other factors such as poor soil quality.
The ‘Push-pull’ system involves:
- Planting ‘push’ plants like the legume Desmodium, which uses smell to deter stem borers, in between rows of maize.
- Planting ‘pull’ plants like Napier Grass, which attracts moths away from maize, around the main crop.
The grass emits a glue which traps the insects.
In addition, the roots of Desmodium emit a selective herbicide which inhibits the growth of the roots of the parasitic Striga weed. The plant also fixes nitrogen which contributes to improving soil fertility which can itself be a significant factor in reducing yields. It also acts as a protective covering for the soil, retaining moisture and reducing soil erosion. Finally, both the Desmodium and Napier Grass can be used as forage for cattle.
The system is currently being used by almost 70,000 farmers in Africa. Levels of Striga and stem borer infestation have been dramatically reduced whilst maize yields have more than doubled in some cases. The most recent development is to assess the use of the system in drier areas using plants such as drought-tolerant Brachiaria grass so that it can adapt to future climate change.
The forthcoming Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing programme includes comprehensive reviews of these and other ways of achieving sustainable maize cultivation.
Since 2010 the concept has become a major focus for discussion and research. Major events this year include the conferences ‘Our Common Future under Climate Change’ held in July 2015 and ‘Climate Smart Agriculture 2015: Third Global Science Conference’ due in September 2015. These will culminate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) which will try to achieve a new international agreement to tackle climate change. This will be held in Paris in November-December 2015.
The cultivation of crops such as maize or wheat has been associated with a range of environmental impacts such as the level of water, energy and chemical (e.g. fertiliser) use, which increases the crops’ carbon footprint, run-off which causes pollution, and the impact of more intensive methods of cultivation on soil quality, erosion and biodiversity. Ways of tackling these challenges to make agriculture more sustainable will be a major theme in the forthcoming Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing programme of titles on the sustainable cultivation of key crops.