The nutritional quality of crops and the impact of climate change

Today at COP26, discussions are focused around public empowerment and education in climate action. Galvanising public action is difficult but not impossible. Grace Kangara explains how promoting locally available organic nutrient resources to farmers is key to both improving soils and improving the nutritional quality of crops, ensuring the availability of micronutrient-dense foods at the …

The problem of cadmium in cocoa beans

We are identifying ways to produce safer chocolate in order to help small-holder farmers, say David Salt, David Gopaulchan and Gabriel Castrillo Cadmium is a potentially toxic heavy metal that can be found in various foods through bioaccumulation from the soil. It occurs naturally in soils (from volcanic activity, forest fires, and rock weathering), but …

The effects of increasing night time temperatures on plants

It is vital to explore the night time processes of plants to protect our crops from changing climatic conditions, say Prof Erik Murchie and Dr Lorna McAusland The last decade (2009-2019) was the warmest on record. With global temperatures predicted to increase between 2-5 °C over the next 30 years, and more frequent, longer lasting …

Identifying heat tolerant rice varieties to maintain future food security

Rising temperatures are forcing scientists to develop heat tolerant varieties, but this takes time. Policymakers must commit to emissions reductions now, in order to avoid future food insecurity, writes Jordan Robson Global warming is undeniably a huge issue. Average temperatures have been rising steadily since the industrial revolution, and have risen significantly since the 1950s. …

Giving up meat and eating plants instead: Is it really that simple?

The complexities of nutrition and the misrepresentation of the livestock/meat industry are creating a simplistic view of much more complex systems, say Andy Salter and Phil Garnsworthy A Guardian commentary piece last week suggested that British meat-eating habits were rather out of control, and would need to be reduced by at least 20% (a statistic …

Evolving grass pea from ‘orphan’ crop to staple food

This post is written by Drs Peter Emmrich and Levi Yant.  Malnutrition from protein deficiency is a widespread problem and concern. Populations in the developing world are at particular risk due to the higher costs of animal proteins when compared to plant proteins. These populations therefore tend to rely on protein-rich plant-based foods like beans, …

Droughts and their effects on agriculture – An interview with Amit Kumar

Amit Kumar is a PhD student on the Palaeobenchmarking Resilient Agricultural Systems (PalaeoRAS) project   Why did you decide to do a PhD? What were you doing before?    Before coming to the UK, I worked for the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) in Roorkee (India) as a Senior Research Fellow for two years. NIH is a leading research institute working under the Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India. Earlier, I had completed my Masters in …

UK Plant Health Week: A conversation with a plant pathologist

2020 is the International Year of Plant Health and April 20-27 is UK Plant Health Week. We spoke to Dr Rumiana Ray, a Crop Pathologist, about the importance of plant health, and what you can do to support keeping plants healthy.   You are a specialist in crop pathology, what does that mean? Plant pathologists …

Plants for future food security: the case of Bambara groundnut

Future Food Beacon researchers in Malaysia and UK are working with partners in Africa and Asia to help secure the future of our food supply. They are doing this by exploring the wider use of crop diversity to fill food production and nutrient gaps, making a diverse range of food crops available and accessible to …

Collaborations with Embrapa to research Brazilian agricultural practices

The Future Food Beacon is developing a working partnership with Embrapa, Brazil. Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply and is concerned with generating knowledge and technology for Brazilian agriculture. In late 2018 and early 2019, supported by the UoN International Collaboration Fund, six Future …