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The benefits of producing biofuel from perennial grasses make them a very attractive alternative source of energy. An EU-funded project is working to create improved varieties and identify the optimal environments for production of different grass species to make perennial grasses even more sought after.
Published: 22 January 2014
Agriculture is at risk from climate change as temperatures, pest levels and growing seasons change. However, agriculture also contributes to these effects through emissions from fertilisers, water wastage and biological processes. A third of vegetables and fruit consumed in the EU are produced by protected horticulture. As 90% of the greenhouse growers are small and medium enterprises (SMEs), they have to compete with cheaper labour, production costs and regular supply from producers outside the EU.
Published: 12 September 2013
In the UK, Plant Health Officials are approving a newly developed portable DNA testing device for disease diagnosis. They are checking for ash dieback, the spore-borne disease caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea which, according to the UK Forestry Commission, has infected more than 330 sites in the UK and resulted in the destruction of tens of thousands of young trees. A sample of infected bark is taken from an ash tree and prepared in a manner which can amplify and detect DNA from the organism. The result is available within minutes - rather than the days it would have taken if the sample had been sent for laboratory analysis. Since speed is of critical importance in diagnosing such disease outbreaks, this is a major step forward.
Published: 30 July 2013
As a food, asparagus can trace an illustrious lineage back 20,000 years to Egypt; it features in the world's oldest surviving cook book, Apicius's third century 'De re coquinaria'; it is packed with vitamins, and a very good source of dietary fibre. No wonder the asparagus is such a prized food. But its reputation as the ultimate gourmet vegetable is also reflected in its delicate cultivation, with white asparagus in particular requiring labour intensive hilling. And in Europe, this dedicated nurturing is threatening the crop as farmers struggle to find the manpower needed to harvest asparagus.
Published: 10 May 2013
Honey has been a part of human life since ancient times. Cave paintings in Valencia,
in Spain, suggest that humans hunted for honey at least 10,000 years ago. Ancient
Egyptians used honey to embalm the dead, and traces have even been found in the
tomb of Tutankhamun.
Published: 7 August 2012
The search for alternative products to wean the world away from its dependence
on petro-chemicals is an intensive and ongoing one, which takes many forms.
Researchers have explored many different avenues. However, one place the search
has led them to is perhaps more unexpected than many others: the slaughterhouse.
Published: 7 August 2012
Nitrogen is rarely thought of as a vital element, but it is still essential for life. While not as obvious as water, oxygen or carbon, it is nonetheless needed to synthesize DNA, RNA and amino acids for proteins, the basic building blocks of plants, animals and other life forms.
Published: 6 July 2012
Concerns about climate change coupled with Europe's dependency on petrol have led to calls for the increased use of renewable energies. Biomass is one such renewable energy source, and can be comprised of plant material, vegetation, or agricultural waste.
Published: 4 July 2012
There is a electrifying new way to squeeze more from an ancient resource - olives.
Published: 13 April 2012
Water is a precious commodity, especially in regions where rainfall is scarce. For farmers, smart irrigation means better crops for less outlay.
Published: 16 March 2012