Tobacco as biofuel

Picture copyright GRISAN et al.

Tobacco is an industrial crop traditionally used for manufacturing cigarettes but due to European subsidies restriction, an alternative use should be found. Tobacco could be used as an oilseed crop with an oil yield ranging from 30 to 40% of seed dry weight. Grisan et al. review the performance of tobacco cultivar Solaris in Italy. Seed production was evaluated to be 1.1 – 1.8 t/ha, with an oil yield up to 0.59 t/ha. In North Est Italy two seed harvests determined a total seed yield of 4.5 t/ha, from which 1.48 t of oil/ha could be obtained.

The comeback of perennial grains in Malawi

Picture copyright ROGE et al.

In Malawi, the rise of pigeonpea and cassava production has created conflicts. Farmers in Malawi cut pigeonpea and sorghum to extend production for more than one growing season. They also grow cassava, a perennial food crop that has a proven track record of abating hunger. Rogé et al. show that research is needed to evaluate trade-offs of ratooned systems, to further develop markets for smallholder farmers, and to breed ratoon crops with yield stability and resistance to diseases and pests.

Human virus contamination from sprayed wastewater

Picture copyright GIRARDIN et al.

Domestic wastewaters are used to irrigate soils, thus saving pristine waters. However wastewater contains human enteric viruses that may contaminate the atmosphere after wastewater spraying. Scientists Girardin et al. found that 11-89% of murine mengoviruses applied to the soil were aerosolized during the first half hour. They have developed a model to help policymakers refine standards governing wastewater reuse in irrigation.

Organic chocolate production saves energy

Picture copyright PEREZ NEIRA

The industrialization of agriculture has often led to lower efficiency, pollution and greater dependence on non-renewable energy. Organic agriculture and traditional agriculture are thus potential alternatives. Agronomist Pérez Neira studied the energetic and economic behavior of cacao in traditional, semi-intensive traditional, technified and organic farms in Ecuador. Results show that well-managed organic farms improve energy efficiency by comparison with technified or semi-intensive management strategies, and also improves the economic performance.

Zinc spraying on wheat is cheaper with pesticides

Picture copyright WANG et al.

Biofortification of staple crops with zinc is a strategy for overcoming human zinc deficiency. Agronomists Wang et al. calculated the cost of agronomic biofortification of wheat with zinc in China. Results show that the price is high when zinc is sprayed alone. Whereas the cost is cheaper, from US$ 41 to US$ 108, when zinc is combined with routine pesticide management to reduce labor cost.

No till farming high N2O greenhouse gas

Picture copyright VERMUE et al.

Global warming is induced by several factors, notably by the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) by some agricultural practices. Agronomists Vermue et al. measured the nitrous oxide emissions of various weed management options. They found the highest emissions, of 5226 g per hectare, in the no tillage system, versus 177 g for intensive tillage. Most N2O emissions occurred in spring.

How to scale up successfully agricultural innovations

Picture copyright CDI, Wageningen UR

Agricultural innovations such as disease resistant maize varieties and integrated pest management often hold a potential for wider application. This motivates many agricultural development interventions to aim for scaling agricultural innovations. However, several factors may constrain such intentions. Scaling may also lead to undesirable side-effects such as environmental degradation. Wigboldus et al. review current and alternative approaches to scaling. They present a framework to enrich views on what is involved in helping such innovations go to scale in an effective and responsible way