Abstract: Biochar application to agricultural soils is an interesting emerging technology with promising potential for long-term carbon storage, sustainable waste disposal, and soil fertility enhancement. Extensive information exists in the literature on the highly beneficial properties of biochar. Nevertheless, systematic application of biochar on European agricultural soils may have wide ranging policy implications as well as environmental and public health concerns. In this paper we critically review existing scientific evidence from a European policy perspective and identify research gaps for future comprehensive assessments of the policy, environmental, economic, and health implications of the systematic use of biochar in European agricultural soils.
Abstract: Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is an important legume crop worldwide. However, abiotic and biotic stress limits bean yields to <600 kg ha−1 in low-income countries. Current low yields result in food insecurity, while demands for increased yields to match the rate of population growth combined with the threat of climate change are significant. Novel and significant advances in genetic improvement using untapped genetic diversity available in crop wild relatives and closely related species must be further explored. A meeting was organized by the Global Crop Diversity Trust to consider strategies for common bean improvement. This review resulted from that meeting and considers our current understanding of the genetic resources available for common bean improvement and the progress that has been achieved thus far through introgression of genetic diversity from wild relatives of common bean, and from closely related species, including: P. acutifolius, P. coccineus, P. costaricensis and P. dumosus. Newly developed genomic tools and their potential applications are presented. A broad outline of research for use of these genetic resources for common bean improvement in a ten-year multi-disciplinary effort is presented.
Abstract: Extreme climatic variation is predicted with climate change this century. In many cropping regions, the crop environment will tend to be warmer with more irregular rainfall and spikes in stress levels will be more severe. The challenge is not only to raise agricultural production for an expanding population, but to achieve this under more adverse environmental conditions. It is now possible to systematically explore the genetic variation in historic local landraces by using GPS locators and world climate maps to describe the natural selection for local adaptation, and to identify candidate germplasm for tolerances to extreme stresses. The physiological and biochemical components of these expressions can be genomically investigated with candidate gene approaches and next generation sequencing. Wild relatives of crops have largely untapped genetic variation for abiotic and biotic stress tolerances, and could greatly expand the available domesticated gene pools to assist crops to survive in the predicted extremes of climate change, a survivalomics strategy. Genomic strategies can assist in the introgression of these valuable traits into the domesticated crop gene pools, where they can be better evaluated for crop improvement. The challenge is to increase agricultural productivity despite climate change. This calls for the integration of many disciplines from eco-geographical analyses of genetic resources to new advances in genomics, agronomy and farm management, underpinned by an understanding of how crop adaptation to climate is affected by genotype × environment interaction.
Abstract: The effect of rice-husk char (potentially biochar) application on the growth of transplanted lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and Chinese cabbage (Brassica chinensis) was assessed in a pot experiment over a three crop (lettuce-cabbage-lettuce) cycle in Cambodia. The biochar was the by-product of a rice-husk gasification unit and consisted of 28.7% carbon (C) by mass. Biochar application rates to potting medium of 25, 50 and 150 g kg−1 were used with and without locally available fertilizers (a mixture of compost, liquid compost and lake sediment). The rice-husk biochar used was slightly alkaline (pH 7.79), increased the pH of the soil, and contained elevated levels of some trace metals and exchangeable cations (K, Ca and Mg) in comparison to the soil. The biochar treatments were found to increase the final biomass, root biomass, plant height and number of leaves in all the cropping cycles in comparison to no biochar treatments. The greatest biomass increase due to biochar additions (903%) was found in the soils without fertilization, rather than fertilized soils (483% with the same biochar application as in the “without fertilization” case). Over the cropping cycles the impact was reduced; a 363% increase in biomass was observed in the third lettuce cycle.
Abstract: Malnutrition has affected almost 31% of pre-school children.This paperprovides the information of nutritional values (leaf protein, 15 amino acids, biomass and leaf dry matter) of grain, vegetable and weedy types of amaranths (n = 76 accessions); particularly those novel materials originated from the highland areas of Sumatra-Takengon. The highest values of leaf protein and total amino acids were found in many weedy species (A. viridis, A. blitum L. and A. dubius). The ranges of leaf protein and total amino acids in most of weedy types were 12–29 g 100 g−1 DM and 84–93 g 100 g−1 DW protein, respectively. The leaves of amaranths were found to be a good source for lysine which is the limiting essential amino acids in most of cereal plants. Their values were in the range of 6 g 100 g−1 DW protein which are close to that of good protein quality according to FAO/WHO’s standard. The leaves of underutilized weedy species of A. dubius, A. blitum, A. viridis and the dual purpose types of A. caudatus L., A. cruentus L. deserve to be further exploited as a low cost solution for solving malnutrition problems, especially in Indonesia.
Abstract: Waterlogging can reduce crop yield by 20%–50% or more, and lack of efficient selection methods is an obstacle in plant breeding. The methods currently used are mainly indices based on germination ability in Petri dishes and leaf chlorosis in plants grown in waterlogged soils. Cultivation in oxygen-depleted nutrient solution is the ultimate waterlogging system. Therefore methods based on root growth inhibition and on fluorescence in plant material hydroponically grown in oxygen-depleted solution were evaluated against data on biomass accumulation in waterlogged soils. Both traits were correlated with waterlogging tolerance in soil, but since it was easier to measure fluorescence, this method was further evaluated. A selection of F2 plants with high and low fluorescence revealed a small but significant screening effect in F3 plants. A test of 175 Nordic cultivars showed large variations in chlorophyll fluorescence in leaves from oxygen-stressed seedlings, indicating that adaptation to waterlogging has gradually improved over the past 40–50 years with the introduction of new cultivars onto the market. However, precipitation also increased during the period and new cultivars may have inadvertently been adapted to this while breeding barley for grain yield. The results suggest that the hydroponic method can be used for screening barley populations, breeding lines or phenotyping of populations in developing markers for quantitative trait loci.