Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Abertay researchers in clover to unearth destructive bug

08.04.2002


Scots scientists are playing a key role in a major new research effort which could save Britain’s farmers millions of pounds a year through reductions in fertiliser and pesticide use.



Biotechnology experts at the University of Abertay Dundee, in partnership with two organisations in England, have been awarded £471,000 by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) for a three-year study into the relationship between white clover and a tiny insect.

White clover is highly valued throughout the country both for its feeding value for livestock and for its ability to ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil - a vital nutrient for other plants.


Some 75% of grassland seed mixtures sown in the UK include white clover, yet studies have shown that it only thrives in around 20% of fields managed as pasture for cattle and sheep. Experts believe that the main culprit is a tiny weevil, less than one millimetre long, which eats the roots of the plant including the all-important nitrogen-fixing nodules.

High levels of expensive fertiliser are needed to ensure that white clover grows properly and contributes to the productivity of the pasture and the livestock which feeds upon it.

Now, Abertay biotechnologists are working with colleagues at Reading University and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), to find out exactly what is going on just beneath the surface of our fields.

Researchers at Reading will be using advanced CAT scanners (computerised axial tomography) to see inside the soil without physically affecting it - the same non-invasive technology used widely in medicine for diagnosing conditions inside the body.

Experts at Abertay will then apply the latest computerised statistical techniques to produce a theoretical model of what happens inside the soil and what factors are influencing change. This can then be used to predict the outcome of changing any one of those factors through management of the field. It is hoped that the study will produce a new management model which could reduce the amount of fertiliser applied to UK grassland and comply with new, more stringent, environmental legislation in the future.

Professor John Crawford, director of SIMBIOS - the joint centre for mathematical biology established at the Universities of Abertay Dundee and Dundee - explained: “We know that this weevil, from the Sitona genus, preys on the root systems of the plant, but we don’t know how it moves around in the soil to find the roots. When you are less than a millimetre long, finding a food source several centimetres away could be difficult, but Sitona seems to manage.

“We need to find out how the weevils and their larvae do this, and what environmental factors influence their success. Then we can draw up guidelines of management practice which will help farmers reduce the impact of the weevil without using expensive and environmentally-unfriendly chemicals.”

Kevin Coe | alphagalileo

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

nachricht Ecological intensification of agriculture
09.09.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stronger turbine blades with molybdenum silicides

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Scientists Find Twisting 3-D Raceway for Electrons in Nanoscale Crystal Slices

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Lowering the Heat Makes New Materials Possible While Saving Energy

26.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>