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  • black-grass and wheat

    Black-grass: the farmer’s nemesis

    Visit an arable farm in England, particularly in its central and Southern parts, and ask the farmer what their number one problem is on their farm. They will most likely tell you it is black-grass. More

  • diagram showing the impact of different management options

    Root system based limitations to agriculture

    Improving root systems can be a step towards sustainable intensification in crop production. Using the contrasting wheat cropping systems of Australia and Denmark as examples, Thorup-Kristensen et al. find that increased rooting depth is the most promising trait for improved water and nitrogen use. Root systems and depth can be improved through genetics and breeding. […] More

  • Camellia sinensis

    The interconnectedness of plant studies

    Have you ever wondered how the monthly Plant Cuttings’ collection comes to be? Do you think Mr P Cuttings knows in advance what he’s going to write about each month? He has a notional idea of the items he wants to cover, but he usually has no idea where a news item will actually go […] More

  • An authentic "Mariscada" from Galicia.

    Decision time: Inorganic or Organic..?

    Plants need appropriate amounts of essential nutrients if they are to grow fully and generate the yield of which they are capable. Quite often, however, one of those essentials – principally, nitrogen (N) – is in insufficient supply in the soil. To achieve maximum crop yields those missing nutrient(s) are added by humans. Traditionally, that […] More

  • Phytic Acid

    Plants, given a helping hand

    I’ve been known to remind my students that just because testing demonstrates presence of e.g. ‘phosphate’ in a soil sample that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in a form that can be accessed/utilised by plants. And phosphorus (P) is a good example to use because it is one of the essential nutrients that plants need for […] More

  • in

    Location, Location, Location [Or, Why rice is thrice as nice (maybe…)]

      Arguably, one of humankind’s greatest achievements is agriculture [“the art and science of growing plants and other crops and the raising of animals for food, other human needs, or economic gain”], which in turn is considered to be a major contributing factor to the development of what we optimistically term civilisation *. However, with only […] More

  • Monks collecting alms

    Altruistic plants?

    There’s been a thoughtfulness* of books recently that reflect on aspects of plant intelligence – e.g. Daniel Chamovitz’s What a Plant Knows, Anthony Trewavas’ Plant Behaviour & Intelligence, Richard Karban’s Plant Sensing and Communication , and Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola’s Brilliant Green. Whilst the concept or meaning of plant intelligence is debated, let’s muddy […] More

  • Mars

    Will a Martian save the Earth?

    Plant scientists are essential to help provide solutions to three of the most important current and future threats to mankind’s existence on the planet – food security, water supply and climate change. But as universities close plant biology courses we have to ask: Where are those plant scientists to come from? More

  • Carpenter bee with pollen collected from Night-blooming cereus, paniniokapunahoa, papipi pua (Cactaceae)

    Plant-insect relationships, a double-edged sword

    Flowering plants have had an intim­ate rela­tion­ship with insects for mil­lions of years. Indeed, this is often cited as an example of co-evolution , par­tic­u­larly with regards to the flowers and their pol­lin­a­tion by the insects. However, this has also given parasites millions of years to adapt too. More

  • in

    80 shades of plants…

    Around the world in 80 plants. Stephen Barstow. 2014. Permanent Publications I normally have to request copies of books to review, but for this one I was invited to review a copy. Suitably intrigued by the book’s title – and a little flattered to have been selected for this privilege (it was – read on!), […] More

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