Helping save apples from sunburn
Just like humans, apples can get sunburn. Summer sunshine helps apples ripen and brings on their classic red color, but sun and heat can quickly become too much of a good thing.
This summer, researchers at Washington State University are testing a high-tech approach to prevent the burn and save water and energy. While apple tree leaves can soak up sunshine, fruit doesn’t dissipate heat as well. Sunburn can happen in as little as 10 minutes, causing disorders that ruin fruit quality and appearance—think ugly, brown dead spots. Unaddressed, sunburn can ruin as much as half of growers’ crops. […]
In a project jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation, Khot’s team is developing a sensor-based orchard system that can sense fruit surface temperature and fine-tune delivery of cool water for evaporative cooling.
Using infrared cameras and miniaturized weather stations, the prototype activates overhead sprinklers just when they’re needed, minimizing the negatives of spray cooling. […]
“Such in-field crop and weather sensing nodes are key as we explore digital agriculture concepts for orchards,” Khot said.
Tackling ticks through DNA
A new study indicates that eradication of the cattle tick in Australia is theoretically feasible.
- Globally, the annual economic loss from cattle ticks is estimated to be US$22-$30 billion.
- A new UNE-initiated study has established the feasibility of breeding tick resistance into all cattle, even Bos taurus breeds.
- The ability to breed for tick resistance, used with other measures, suggests that eradication of cattle tick in Australia may be feasible.
- The study interpreted genomic data drawn from multiple breeds across several nations, a world-first that greatly expands the practicality of genomic approaches to modifying cattle traits.
No side effects with mechanical control of root weeds in organic fields
Organic farmers are in dire need of methods that can effectively combat perennial weeds – also called root weeds. A commonly used method of management is mechanical tillage. Researchers from Denmark, Norway and Sweden have, in a 4-year trial in Norway, investigated which mechanical treatments that works best for different root weed species, as well as how the mechanical tillage affects soil structure, diseases, and yield.
“It is a rather interesting experiment because it is rare in the literature that there are several elements at the same time. Often, we only look at weeds or diseases, but here we have included several elements at once, so that we can see if the mechanical treatments have derived and undesirable effects on soil structure and grain diseases,” explains Associate Professor Bo Melander from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus university. […]
“The Norwegian organic farmers can learn from our experiments, among other things, that the control must take place in the autumn after harvest if they want to be sure of an effect. In addition, we also had oats in the trial, and it proved to be a very good competitor to the weeds. And they can perform these treatments without having to worry about disease attacks or destroying the structure of the soil,” Bo Melander says.