Benifical Fungi Reduces Need For Plant Irrigation By 40%

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Strawberry growers could reduce irrigation inputs by up to 40 per cent while still maintaining yields, by inoculating their plants with naturally-occurring beneficial soil-dwelling fungi, researchers at Kent’s East Malling Research (EMR) have found.

Two different species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, or the two in combination, gave similar beneficial results over the control plants in trials by a team that was led by University of Kent PhD student Louisa Robinson-Boyer.

“While it has been long-known that these beneficial fungi can have positive effects on plant nutrient uptake, protect plants from infection by pathogens and buffer them against adverse environmental stresses, this work provides an opportunity to reduce irrigation by 40 per cent and still retain required growth and yield outputs,” she said.

“Working with these fascinating fungi has great potential to address some of the future food security challenges being raised by climate change. This work will greatly assist with future sustainable food production – maintaining yields while reducing inputs.”

The results are published in the Mycorrhiza journal. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi occur in most ecosystems, but their levels are much decreased across intensive agricultural systems, mainly due to soil tillage and the use of fertilisers.

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Britain Must Grow More Sustainable Food

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Proposals for national food strategy calls for UK farming ‘revolution’ in response to climate change and food security (2010)

Britain must grow more food, while using less water and reducing emission of greenhouse gases, to respond to the challenge of climate change and growing world populations, the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, said yesterday.

“Food security is as important to this country’s future wellbeing, and the world’s, as energy security. We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably. And we need to make sure what we eat safeguards our health,” he said.

Launching the government’s food strategy for the next 20 years with a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, he proposed a consumer-led, technological revolution to transform UK farming.

“We know that the consequences of the way we produce and consume our food are unsustainable to our planet and to ourselves,” he said. “We know we are at one of those moments in our history where the future of our economy, our environment, and our society will be shaped by the choices we make now.”

He said consumers, rather than retailers, should lead by buying “greener” food, wasting less and growing more of their own: “People power can help bring about a revolution in the way food is produced and sold.”

Food businesses, supermarkets and manufacturers would follow consumer demand for food that was local, healthy and had a smaller environmental footprint – just as consumers had pushed the rapid expansion of Fairtrade products and free range eggs in the last decade, Benn said.
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