Improving yields—globally

Planting a field research trial
Planting a field research trial

In the age of big data, size is beginning to matter less and less as some researchers now question what to do with it all. While, on one hand, genome sequences and increasingly detailed genetic maps of Earth’s major crop species have proliferated, the field research of those same crops around the world has remained fragmented at best.

And that’s a problem. It’s the genotype in the environment, after all, that is measured in bushels per acre. Continue reading “Improving yields—globally”

Aloe vera on the rise

Aloe Vera Plantation
Aloe vera plantation

You’ve likely seen bottles of it on the grocery shelf between the $$$ pomegranate juice and coconut water. In fact, you probably have a specimen potted on the shelf above your kitchen sink. Aloe vera, both a staid home remedy and a flashy cure-all phenomenon, is now debuting in some South American beverages. And, of course, that means it is becoming an increasingly important crop in the region. Continue reading “Aloe vera on the rise”

Bacteria and worms filter water?!

Brown Swiss and Jersey dairy cows. (Photo taken in Oxapampa, Peru, by P. Froese.)

Two weeks ago, the Union-Bulletin of Walla Walla, Washington, reported a recent partnership between Organix Inc., a local organic waste management company, and BioFiltro, a Chilean firm. Organix will be the local distributor of the proprietary BIDA® organic wastewater filtration system sold by BioFiltro.

I became intrigued as I looked more closely at BioFiltro’s BIDA® filter, and thought I would share this (unaffiliated) short post about it. Continue reading…

Widespread labor shortage

When we got to the ‘careers’ unit in the English course that I taught in Colombia, I would ask the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. We were studying workplace vocabulary like office, hospital, grocery store, mechanic shop, nurse, firefighter, farmer, doctor, lawyer…. When I would point to the picture of the farmer on his tractor and ask, “Do you want to be a farmer?” their face would say, Are you kidding me? and their lips would pronounce, “No! I do not want to be a farmer.” Continue reading…

The strawberry meets a new foe

First recorded in Egypt in the 1980s, Macrophomina crown and root rot of strawberry has increasingly challenged Californian farmers within the past decade, and even more recently in other strawberry-producing regions of the world. Strawberry growers in Chile, Argentina, and Spain have not escaped this outbreak either, but Dr. Marlene Rosales of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is working to find genetic resistance to the disease. Continue reading…

Valentine’s Day roses: where did yours come from?

An Ecuadorian rose

For the past two years, Valentine’s Day (February 14) fell on a weekend. This year, floriculturists across Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia, are glad it’s on a Tuesday, since a weekday—as opposed to a weekend—holiday tends to boost flower sales. Continue reading…

Less nitrogen, more barley

Conservation agriculture aims to preserve natural resources—soil, water, air—while still making a living with a farm. Farmers love any technology that betters the long-term sustainability of their operation, especially if it also increases their efficiency and income. Now, a group of Mexican agricultural researchers have placed another flagstone in the pathway to efficiency and sustainability, this time using two little bacteria with big names. Continue reading…

Colombian exports: avocados, pineapples, and beef

Of all the nations in South America, Colombia, at the top of the continent and bounded by both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, is in the best geographic position to ship to the U.S.—that’s one of the many reasons why it’s a huge cocaine supplier for North America. Cocaine aside, recent changes in Colombian government spending and shifts in market demands have brightened expectations among some of Colombia’s more scrupulous farmers. Continue reading…