Articles

Livestock and poultry heat stress app could help improve animal welfare

The University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) , have jointly developed a new free app available from Google Play or Blackberry Marketplace that helps stockmen calculate the level of heat stress experienced by livestock. According to the OMAFRA website, the App allows producers to calculate the heat stress index on...
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Highest winter losses in recent years for honey bees in Scotland

Soaring numbers of honey bees died last winter, University of Strathclyde research has revealed. A survey, run by Strathclyde academics on behalf of the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association, indicated 31.3% of managed honey bee colonies in Scotland failed to survive last winter – almost double the previous year’s loss rate of 15.9%. Dr Alison Gray and Magnus Peterson, of Strathclyde’s...
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Genetic testing by DNA barcoding reveals which ray species are being sold to consumers

Genetic testing by DNA Barcoding, has revealed which species are sold under the commercial term ‘ray wings’ in Ireland and the UK. This showed that the blonde ray, given the lowest rating for sustainability in the marine conservation society’s good fish guide, was most widely sold. Samples from the only retailer to label their products as originating from more sustainable sources...
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How do plants avoid sunburn?

Finding that  explains how plants avoid sunburn in intense light  could help to develop crops with increased protection from bright light with enhanced photosynthesis rates A US team has discovered a group of stress-related proteins that explains how plants avoid sunburn in intense light, a finding that one day could help biotechnologists to develop crops that can better...
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World changing technology enables crops to take nitrogen from the air

A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers. Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes...
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FAWC consultation on the welfare of animals in the beef industry

In April 2013 the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) began an 18 month study considering issues relating to animals in the beef industry, including male calves and veal, leading to an Opinion (a short report). The work is being carried out by FAWC’s Ruminants Standing Committee, chaired by Huw Davies. FAWC is an expert committee providing advice to the Department for Environment,...
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Consultation on a Draft Strategy for Achieving "Officially Bovine Tuberculosis-Free" Status for England

A plan to rid England of bovine TB within 25 years has been set out by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.  The strategy sets out action in areas such as disease surveillance, pre- and post-movement cattle testing, removal of cattle exposed to  bTB , tracing the potential source of infection and wildlife controls including culling and vaccination trials. ...
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Inflammation can play beneficial role in dairy cows in days after giving birth

Inflammation. The word typically has a negative connotation. Arthritis … infection … numerous maladies come to mind. But a Kansas State University researcher found that inflammation that occurs naturally in dairy cows the first few days after giving birth may play a surprisingly beneficial role in the complex process of going from late pregnancy to lactation. "We know that during...
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UK's native bees under threat from disease-carrying bumblebee imports

Stricter controls over bumblebee imports to the UK are urgently required to prevent diseases spreading to native bumblebees and honeybees, scientists have warned. The call follows the discovery of parasites in over three-quarters of imported bumblebee colonies they tested. The study - the first of its kind in the UK - is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. While wild species of...
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Why crop rotation works

New research led by scientists at the BBSRC-funded John Innes Centre could help explain the dramatic effect on soil health and yield of crop rotation. Crop rotation has been used since Roman times to improve plant nutrition and to control the spread of disease. A new study to be published in Nature's 'The ISME Journal' reveals the profound effect it has on enriching soil with bacteria,...
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Pathogen that caused Irish Potato Famine is even more virulent now

The plant pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s lives on today with a different genetic blueprint and an even larger arsenal of weaponry to harm and kill plants. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, North Carolina State University plant pathologist Jean Ristaino and colleagues Mike Martin and Tom Gilbert from the University of Copenhagen compared...
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Study finds that European fish stocks are poised for recovery

The results of a major international effort to assess the status of dozens of European fish stocks find that many of those stocks in the northeast Atlantic are being fished sustainably today and that, given time, those populations should continue to recover. The findings, reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 18, come as surprisingly good news amid widespread...
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UK’s Agricultural Resilience Strengthened by New Initiative in York

The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and the University of York have announced a new joint venture: an Initiative in Agrifood Resilience. This announcement was made on the same day as the Government launched its new UK Agricultural Technologies Strategy , which sets out how investment will back the technologies of the future allowing our agricultural industries to grow and...
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Defra publishes review of evidence on consumer food related behaviours that impact on sustainability

Defra has published a review of evidence on consumer food related behaviours that impact on sustainability, critically assessing and summarising evidence around two key objectives: What are the ‘hotspots’ (i.e. points of greatest environmental impact) along the food consumer journey? What mechanisms are available and most effective for influencing consumer...
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Report on managing the land in a changing climate

The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the UK's Committee on Climate Change has published a report on "Managing the land in a changing climate" focussing on the use of land to supply food, timber, wildlilfe habitats, carbon storage with the soil and protection from rises in sea levels. The report highlights prioriti areas of increasing the efficiency of water use in agriculture and...
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New project will help breed better British strawberries

British scientists are helping to ensure the Wimbledon tournament classic of strawberries and cream stays on the menu for years to come with a £2M project to research strawberry disease. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will fund nearly £800,000 of the five-year project into protecting strawberries from diseases. The two grant awards from BBSRC,...
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PMWS calculator allows pig farmers to see how much disease costs

BBSRC-funded researchers at  the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) studying post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) have devised a PMWS calculator to allow farmers to see just how much the disease, present in 99% of pig farms, has cost them. Earlier this year research from the team showed the cost of PMWS to the British pig industry was running to millions of pounds every...
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New fast and portable seed sorting machine gives highly accurate results

A scientist at the US Department of Agriculture, working in collaboration with a manufacturing company, has developed a fast, relatively cheap, portable seed sorting machine which can separate seeds with great accuracy. The machine is currently proving its worth by separating unwanted grass seeds from highly desirable native plant seeds, and is also being used by a major pea and bean...
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Scientist urges us to mine the wealth of the world’s seed banks today in order to feed future generations

With fewer than a dozen flowering plants out of 300,000 species accounting for 80 percent of humanity’s caloric intake, people need to tap unused plants to feed the world in the near future, claims Cornell University plant geneticist Susan McCouch in the Comment feature of the July 4 issue of Nature. To keep pace with population growth and rising incomes around the world, researchers...
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The more mates the better .... for honeybees

When it comes to honey bees, more mates is better. A new study from North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that genetic diversity is key to survival in honey bee colonies – a colony is less likely to survive if its queen has had a limited number of mates. “We wanted to determine whether a colony’s genetic diversity...
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New evidence that insecticide causes changes in honeybee genes

New research by academics at The University of Nottingham has shown that exposure to a neonicotinoid insecticide causes changes to the genes of the honeybee. The study, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, supports the recent decision taken by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoids amid concerns that they could be linked to bee deaths. There is...
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Greenhouse gas could be altering ocean foodchains

Climate change may be weeding out the bacteria that form the base of the ocean’s food chain, selecting certain strains for survival, according to a new study. In climate change, as in everything, there are winners and losers. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperature rise globally, scientists increasingly want to know which organisms will thrive and which will perish in the...
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Study finds livestock-associated Staph strains present in workers at industrial livestock operations

A new study found drug-resistant bacteria associated with livestock in the noses of industrial livestock workers in North Carolina but not in the noses of antibiotic-free livestock workers. The drug-resistant bacteria examined were Staphylococcus aureus , commonly known as “Staph,” which include the well-known bug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ). New Staph strains are...
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World aquaculture industry now producing more protein than beef industry

A report from the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) has revealed that fish farming is now producing more animal protein than the beef industry, with 66 million tons of fish produced in 2012 versus 63 million tons of beef. You can find out more in an interesting article on The Beef Site by clicking here.
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Crabgrass produces herbicide to kill neighbouring plants

Contrary to popular belief, the common weed crabgrass (Digitaria) does not thrive in lawns, gardens and farm fields by simply crowding out other plants. A new study in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found that the weed actually produces its own herbicides that kill nearby plants. Crabgrass is not only a headache for lawns and home gardens, but also a major cause of...
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