Peanut variety with water conservation trait sustains yield even in drought
The beloved peanut usually grows in sandy soil where there might not be much moisture.
Crop scientists are trying to find the peanut varieties best at it.
Thomas Sinclair at North Carolina State University and colleagues are studying peanut varieties to find a ‘water conservation’ trait.
“Crop varieties that have a greater yield than others, with less water, are crucial in maintaining or increasing the profits available to growers,” he explains.
By doing this early in the soil drying cycle, the plant conserves water for later as the drought gets worse.
“Somewhat surprisingly, nearly all plants show a decrease in transpiration with soil drying,” Sinclair says.
This means there is more water available to sustain the crop as the drought goes on.” The researchers set out to find this water conservation trait through three sets of experiments.
“This research was a three-phase study to identify a peanut line that had the potential for increased yields under drought conditions,” Sinclair says.
Sinclair says the next step in this research is exploring another trait, nitrogen fixation.
“I am a crop physiologist who is interested in sorting out how plants grow and develop in the field to generate yield,” he says.
Ways to encourage ‘refuge’ planting, slow resistance to Bt crops
Ways to encourage ‘refuge’ planting, slow resistance to Bt crops.
However, insect pests have shown the ability to evolve resistance to Bt proteins.
In fact, in the case of Bt corn, farmers are required to plant a section of their fields with refuge crops.
That’s because refuge crops provide fodder for insect pests that are not resistant to Bt proteins.
Some growers plant too little of their fields with Bt crops, and some don’t plant refuge crops at all.
Reisig divides his time between conducting research and helping farmers deal with problems related to insect crop pests.
What can influence whether growers plant refuge crops?
Reisig also found that there was a high correlation between how much land was devoted to corn, cotton and soybeans in a county, and how likely farmers in that county were to plant refuge crops.
Reisig also found that better enforcement and peer pressure from other farmers weren’t seen as making farmers more likely to plant refuge crops.
Journal Reference: Dominic D. Reisig.