Despite the fact that we produce enough food to comfortably feed the global population, alarming food waste and the uneven distribution of food means that famine and malnutrition are still pressing concerns in many parts of the world. Increasingly dramatic climate conditions – leading to droughts, floods, and fires – have made global food supply chains even more precarious, making the need for reliable and sustainable agriculture even more prominent.
What is Agronomy and how can it help?
Agronomy is the branch of agriculture that investigates crop production, including soil science, fertilizers, and growing mediums. In today's world, Agronomy research focuses on developing agricultural practices to sustainably feed communities using novel or underutilized techniques, materials and crops while preventing further harm to the environment.
The following collection of research lay summaries from International Journal of Agronomy, created by Research Square, investigates potential agricultural causes and solutions to pollution, with research investigating how proper land management can help capture and store atmospheric CO2, and how fertilizers such as ammonia can contribute to air pollution while alternative natural fertilizers can help reduce agricultural pollution.
These summaries also address how best to feed communities through increasing crop yield using combinations of fertilizers and bacteria, maintaining soil fertility through combined use of organic and chemical fertilizers, and how previously wasted material can be used to cultivate nutritious food sources.
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- ‘Effect of Land Use on Organic Carbon Storage Potential of Soils with Contrasting Native Organic Matter Content’
Soil stores over half the world’s terrestrial carbon and can act as a major carbon sink by capturing and storing atmospheric CO2, but this ability is highly dependent on land use. This study examines how geography and land use alter the carbon storage capacity of soils in Bangladesh. Findings show that while that capacity may diminish when soils are cultivated for crop production, proper land management can ensure that stable carbon traps can be maintained.
- ‘Introduction to the Integrated Nutrient Management Strategies and Their Contribution to Yield and Soil Properties’
Could using more organic fertilizer be one way for farmers to help in the fight to alleviate poverty and world hunger? This review outlines the benefits of integrated nutrient management, where chemical fertilizers are used in conjunction with organic alternatives such as manure. Benefits include optimizing yields and maximizing profitability, while maintaining soil fertility and reducing environmental pollution.
- ‘A Review of Chamber and Micrometeorological Methods to Quantify NH3 Emissions from Fertilisers Field Application’
Agriculture is the primary source of ammonia in the atmosphere, which can threaten both air and ecosystem quality. This article reviews the strengths and limitations of common methods for measuring ammonia pollution over areas of varying size. While micrometeorological techniques are preferable on the field scale, techniques utilizing enclosures or wind tunnels can be reliable comparison methods, particularly when tailored to the measurement site.
- ‘Action Mechanisms of Plant Growth Promoting Cyanobacteria in Crops In Situ: A Systematic Review of Literature’
Replacing synthetic fertilizers with natural alternatives could go a long way in reducing the pollution generated by agriculture. This study explores the promising use of photosynthetic cyanobacteria as fertilizer. These microbes make atmospheric nitrogen available to plants and promote plant growth via a number of different mechanisms. Several beneficial cyanobacteria strains have been identified in Asia and Africa and could be adapted to other regions, such as Latin America.
- ‘Growth, Nodulation, and Yield Responses of Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) as Influenced by Combined Application of Rhizobium Inoculant and Phosphorus in the Guinea Savanna Zone of Ghana’
Combined application of phosphorus fertilizer and exotic strains of nitrogen-fixing bacteria could be the ingredients for boosting production of groundnut, or peanut, in northern Ghana. Applying a Brazilian strain of the bacterium Bradyrhizobium yuanmingense (BR 2367) to plant roots increased the yield of three groundnut varieties, while adding phosphorus fertilizer increased yields even further. Refining the recipe for maximum production could help farmers in Ghana battle poor soil fertility.
- ‘Evaluating the Suitability of Baobab Fruit Shells as Substrate for Growing Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)’
Easily cultivated and nutritious, oyster mushrooms have been identified as a possible food source for alleviating malnutrition in developing countries. Unfortunately, the substrates they're often grown on, such as corn cobs and straw, have other important uses including as feed for animals. This study shows that oyster mushrooms grow quickly and yield well on baobab fruit shells, which are cheap and plentiful in much of Africa.
- ‘Variability in Prolificacy, Total Carotenoids, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin of Yellow Small-Ear Waxy Corn Germplasm’
In Asian countries including China, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, waxy corn (or sticky corn) is a popular food crop that’s sold by the ear. It’s also a good source of carotenoids, vitamins that support the immune system and eye health. Researchers evaluated 44 corn germplasms for agronomic traits and yield components to outline a 3-step strategy for breeding varieties of waxy corn that produce more ears per stalk and higher quantities of carotenoids, supporting growers and consumers alike.
(Lay summaries by Research Square)
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration adapted from Adobe Stock by David Jury.