Robots that use artificial intelligence to recognise the health of fruit and vegetable crops and when they’re ready to harvest are being trialled to help small, organic and greenhouse farmers with weeding and patrolling for pests.
A plant disease spread by sap-sucking insects has been devastating olive and fruit orchards across southern Europe, but scientists are inching closer to halting its spread with the help of insect repelling clays, vegetative barriers and genetic analysis.
Tapping into the genetic diversity contained within the seeds of wild relatives and forgotten crop plants could help farmers decrease their dependency on global agribusiness and grow food better suited to local conditions.
A raft of strategies is being trialled in Europe to turn nutrient-rich farm waste such as chicken feathers, cow dung and plant stalks into green fertiliser. Full of phosphorus and nitrogen, recycled products could help reduce intensive agriculture’s emissions and reliance on fertiliser imports.
Small farms sometimes get overlooked as a feasible solution for feeding a growing population, but researchers say they should be given greater support, with some producing more food than official statistics report.
Forests have a special magic for many of us. Steeped in folklore and fantasy, they are places for enchantments, mythical creatures and outlaws. But if they are to survive into the future, they may also need a helping hand from science.
We should breed new varieties of crops based on their root architecture rather than just focusing on the top half of the plant, according to scientists looking at how to cultivate plants that use water more efficiently and better withstand drought conditions.
Horizon spoke to virologist Johan Neyts.
Dr Alexey Solodovnikov on why we need a less biased view of the animal kingdom.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.