Mussel shells are useful in vineyards

Picture copyright González-Chang et al.

New Zealand grass grub beetles severely defoliate New Zealand grape vines and so far chemical control has dominated the vineyard management practices against this pest. Scientists González-Chang et al. have found that silicon-based dusts applied to vine leaves and crushed mussel shells placed in the under-vine areas can reduce the damage caused by this pest. They argue that changes in beetles’ flight behaviour after mussel shells were applied are responsible for this reduction in vine damage.

The tricky management of heat stress in wheat

Picture copyright Maitre, INRA

Heat stress lowers wheat growth and productivity. Agronomists Akter and Islam review some appropriate strategies able to improve wheat yield under extreme heat stress. These include the choice of cultivars, the management of soil moisture and nutrients, the adjustment of planting time and the use of exogenous protectants. It remains, however, that the overall success of the complex wheat heat stress management will depend on the prospective collaboration of crop modelers, molecular biologists, and plant physiologists.

Insects as sustainable food and feed

Picture copyright Van Huis

Edible insects species are promoted worldwide as sustainable human food and animal feed. Scientists Van Huis and Oonincx compare the environmental consequences of harvesting insects from nature with insect farming. They review the environmental sustainability of insect farming compared to livestock production, emphasizing several major benefits, such as less land and water needs and low greenhouse gas emissions.

Services to lever the agroecological transition of livestock

Picture copyright Pline

Agronomists Beudou et al. show that local actors from two contrasted French territories have different perception of livestock services provided to the society. They highlight how societal demand for these services can lever the agroecological transition of livestock farming systems, orientate public policies and trigger effective actions.

Alternatives to chemical aphid control in orchards

Picture copyright Rousselin et al.

Aphids are major pests of apple and peach orchards and their management often relies on intensive chemical inputs. Rousselin et al. review the alternatives to spraying chemicals at each stage of aphid life cycle. They reckon that improvement of plant resistance to aphids combined to stimulation of aphid natural enemies can lower infestations. This could be achieved by adapting different cultural practices such as irrigation, fertilization, pruning, hedge or weed strip plantations, to orchard conditions and environment.

A crop residue to fertilize oil palm production

Picture copyright Tao et al.

Nutrient management in oil palm is important for its sustainable development. Scientists Tao et al. used for fifteen years the empty fruit bunch, an oil palm residue, to fertilize palm oil trees in an Indonesian field trial. Applying this residue maintained crop yield and temporal variability while increasing soil organic carbon. Switching from chemical fertilizer treatment to crop residue application is a sustainable practice in the palm oil agricultural management.

A plea for alternative framings of sustainable intensification

Picture copyright Struik and Kuyper

Current agronomy and the concept of sustainable intensification are contested. Sustainable intensification requires radical transformations in the social and economic organisation of agriculture. It also requires clarity about what can and should be intensified, with the aim of making agronomy “green again”. For that to occur, scientists Struik and Kuyper reckon two trends must coincide: sustainable de-intensification in the industrial agriculture of the north and sustainable intensification of the low-input agriculture of the south.

Planting Azolla to reduce methane emission from rice

Picture copyright Xu et al.

Reducing methane emission and maintaining rice sustainable production are two major challenges in rice production. Scientists Xu et al. showed that planting the free-floating water fern Azolla along with double rice reduced methane emission in rice paddies due to significant effect on dissolved oxygen and soil redox potential, which are key factors for methane emission.