The fruit fly Drosophila suzukii threatens worldwide fruit production. Its control relies mainly on the application of synthetic insecticides during the soft fruit ripening period. Scientists Dam et al. reviewed the natural compounds reported effective against D. suzukii. Even though several natural compounds show promising in vitro activity against this pest, knowledge of their effects on non-target organisms and their field-efficiency are often missing, limiting their wide-spread use.
Agriculture has to reduce synthetic inputs. Consequently, ecological processes and alternative agricultural practices will become the main regulators of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in cropped soils. Scientists Bertrand et al. recently observed that soil C storage is constrained by N and P supplies in various agricultural situations. Several agroecological practices that improve nutrient recycling can resolve this constraint.
Producing desert truffles constitutes a valuable agricultural activity in semiarid areas of the Iberian Peninsula due to their much appreciated edible value and their low water requirement. Scientists Andrino et al. found that the crop of desert truffle can be stabilized and optimized, around 300 kg/ha, by controlling the aridity index and soil water potential in the field by irrigation during autumn and spring. They propose four methods to manage the plantations depending on available resources and facilities at the cultivation sites.
In sub-Saharan Africa, rapid-growing cities generate increasing volumes of organic wastes that can be recycled and transformed into organic fertilizers. Scientists Thuriès et al. found considerable variability and discrepancy in both agronomic and economic values of these wastes. Their results suggest that the composting process needs to be improved. They reckoned that the humus potential should be calculated to assess more accurately the amendment value and used to adjust their market price.
Preserving remnants of the forest in agricultural landscapes supports biodiversity conservation and the provision of agriculturally-relevant ecosystem services such as pollination or biological control. In Brazil, scientists Medeiros et al. recently found that forests in the surrounding landscape reduce the occurrence of a widespread economic pest in sun-coffee monocultures by enhancing natural enemy diversity. Remnants of the forest maintain a permanent reservoir of natural enemies and therefore, these habitats should be protected.
In the context of the agroecological restoration, exploiting soil biodiversity is the top priority for reducing crop dependence on chemical inputs. Focusing on mycorrhizae, scientists Chave et al. elaborated a methodological framework for designing efficient agrosystems. This method reveals various constraints and levers. It fosters local innovation and develops both systemic reasoning and collective actions. Such a global approach allows farmers to understand that all of them are potential “mycorrhizae producers”.
Planting more trees in the landscape is a spreading strategy to provide multiple ecosystem services in human-dominated environments. Scientists Kuyah et al. recently found in sub-Saharan Africa that agroforestry practices increase provisioning services such as crop yield while maintaining the delivery of regulating and maintenance services such as soil fertility, erosion or water regulation. They reckoned that selecting appropriate agroforestry practices and a suitable management of tree canopies can minimize trade-offs resulting from competition and shading.
Pennycress is underused in agriculture, despite multiple agronomic benefits as a winter annual and a potential to produce an oilseed feedstock for industrial uses. Scientists Cubins et al. recently reviewed the promise shown by this plant for successful integration on agricultural land in the Upper Midwest. They reckoned, however, that information regarding basic management practices, such as seeding rate, row spacing, and nutrient requirements is lacking. Henceforth, further breeding efforts are needed to develop commercially viable varieties.
The use of mulch-based no-tillage is limited in organic cropping systems despite its benefit to soil quality and savings in both labor and fuel. Scientists Vincent-Caboud et al. recently reviewed the production issues of this technique in organic agriculture. They showed that the main problems were cover crop establishment and termination, nutrient management and adequate seed-to-soil contact when planting into thick mulch. More research is needed on cover crops and on developing adequate equipment with farmers’ constraints.
The sustainability of genetic improvement programs in developing countries depends on breeders’ participation. Scientists Camara et al. evaluated the motivations of breeders and the factors influencing their participation in the N’Dama cattle-breeding program in Senegal. They found that social, family and institutional relationships are factors as important -as distance or production systems features.