A quick look at crown rust of oats

Crown rust of oats is the most common leaf disease of oats in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is caused by a fungus named Puccinia coronata f. sp. avenae and can cause major damage in susceptible cultivars. Although the word “crown” is referred to in the name, which may be confusing, it is basically…

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Is Climate Change a Reality?

The Mangaung Metro Municipality experience Whether or not climate change is a reality is a dilemma faced by many within the farming community and poses different questions. For example, why have the onset date and duration of seasonal rainfall changed? Why are we noticing the intensification of prolonged dry spells that can last up to…

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Solar Steam Distillation Technology in SA’s Indigenous Oils Extraction

Wild exotic oils play an important role in the societies in Africa and globally, from a flavour, fragrance, and aromatherapy perspective. South Africa, a country with a strong history of traditional healing, hosts a variety of more than 30,000 plant species which account for almost 10% of the world’s higher plants habitant in the country.…

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Maggot burgers can help to solve world hunger

Fancy maggot burgers for dinner? Eating animals and plants which revolt many of us could cut hunger caused by climate change. A diet of maggot burgers, green slime and seaweed may not appeal to most people, but scientists say it will be essential if the world is to avoid widespread malnutrition. These “novel foods”, as…

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The magical mystery of an apple’s sleep

It might have been an apple that Snow White bit into that sent her into a death-like sleep but, this notion of suspended-animation is not the stuff of fairy tales nor science-fiction stories. Apples, one of the most popular fruit commodities on earth, and a R6.3 billion industry in South Africa, are nowadays available throughout…

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Soil health in a nutshell

Soil is the upper layer of the earth’s crust, which sustains life. It consists of a mixture of mineral particles, organic material, organisms, and liquids, and has various physical, chemical, biological and morphological properties. It sustains plant life, which in turns sustains the lives of animals and humans on the planet. Since we rely on…

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Elements of Agroecology

Guiding the transition to sustainable food and agricultural systems. Today’s food and agricultural systems have succeeded in supplying large volumes of food to global markets. However, high-external input, resource-intensive agricultural systems have caused massive deforestation, water scarcities, biodiversity loss, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite significant progress in recent times, hunger…

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Food and clean water start with soil biodiversity

Although soils are vital for agriculture, biodiversity, and clean water, this below-ground world is often overlooked. The loss of life below the ground due to intensification of agriculture, climate change, erosion, and compaction, among other things, is one of the biggest global threats to soils. Many organisms live in the soil. In fact, about 25% of all biodiversity occur…

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To restore our soils, feed the microbes

Our soils are in trouble. Over the past century, we have abused them with ploughing, tilling and too much fertilizer. What many thinks of as “just dirt” is an incredibly complex mixture of rock-derived minerals, plant-derived organic matter, dissolved nutrients, gases, and a rich food web of interacting organisms. By ploughing and overtilling, we have…

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Water in agriculture

Water is a critical input for agricultural production and plays an important role in food security. Irrigated agriculture represents 20 percent of the total cultivated land and contributes 40 percent of the total food produced worldwide. Irrigated agriculture is, on average, at least twice as productive per unit of land as rainfed agriculture, thereby allowing…

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