As carbon dioxide levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall, researchers find.

Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.
The new findings are reported in the journalNature. Eight institutions, from Australia, Israel, Japan and the United States, contributed to the analysis.
The researchers looked at multiple varieties of wheat, rice, field peas, soybeans, maize and sorghum grown in fields with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels like those expected in the middle of this century. (Atmospheric CO2concentrations are currently approaching 400 parts per million, and are expected to rise to 550 ppm by 2050.)
The teams simulated high CO2levels in open-air fields using a system called Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE), which pumps out, monitors and adjusts ground-level atmospheric CO2to simulate future conditions. In this study, all other growing conditions (sunlight, soil, water, temperature) were the same for plants grown at high-CO2and those used as controls.
The experiments revealed that the nutritional quality of a number of the world’s most important crop plants dropped in response to elevated CO2.
The study contributed “more than tenfold more data regarding both the zinc and iron content of the edible portions of crops grown under FACE conditions” than available from previous studies, the team wrote.
“When we take all of the FACE experiments we’ve got around the world, we see that an awful lot of our key crops have lower concentrations of zinc and iron in them (at high CO2),” said University of Illinois plant biology and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Andrew Leakey, an author on the study. “And zinc and iron deficiency is a big global health problem already for at least 2 billion people.”
Zinc and iron went down significantly in wheat, rice, field peas and soybeans. Wheat and rice also saw notable declines in protein content at higher CO2.
“Across a diverse set of environments in a number of countries, we see this decrease in quality,” Leakey said.
Nutrients in sorghum and maize remained relatively stable at higher CO2levels because these crops use a type of photosynthesis, called C4, which already concentrates carbon dioxide in their leaves, Leakey said.
“C4 is sort of a fuel-injected photosynthesis that maize and sorghum and millet have,” he said. “Our previous work here at Illinois has shown that their photosynthesis rates are not stimulated by being at elevated CO2. They already have high CO2inside their leaves.”
More research is needed to determine how crops grown in developing regions of the world will respond to higher atmospheric CO2, Leakey said.
“It’s important that we start to do these experiments in tropical climates with tropical soils, because that’s just a terrible gap in our knowledge, given that that’s where food security is already the biggest issue,” he said.
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The above story is based on materialsprovided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Brown Mang Onwuka

Automation in the feed industry a hot topic

Automation in feed mills worldwide is all about efficiency and energy savings. This was explained by Eric Cissen and Appie Boorsma from Actemium.

Over the last few decades feed mills have become more automised. Feed mills reduced their number of process operators by half or even more. “The feed industry is all about optimisation. This can be done by small nuances in the automation process.
At the same time, more data is becoming available. We try to find solutions for these feed mills, so that the operators can easily interpret the information that is gathered”, explained Cissen.
Actemium has a global presence but sees many opportunities in Asia. “There is still a lot of work done manually in Chinese feed mills for example. There is huge potential there. Our work in these regions is part the result of Western feed companies buying Asian feed mills. The next step is to make these mills compatible with the Western standards. That is why we have companies all over the world, so we can act locally to implement our products and to deliver the service needed.
Cissen thinks that in the future around 30-40% of their business in feed automation will be done in this region. “Work in Western Europe wil still be needed, because automation requires service”. He also sees that new automation solutions and bigger feed companies require skilled people. “It is hard to find good process operators. It is important to make young (technically schooled students) enthusiastic about working in the feed mill. That is why we also invite many students and schools to visit our business”.
Actemium (part of Vinci Energies) is a network of 300 Business Units. These companies are located in 35 countries across the world, most closely with our clients. Feed mills such as Cargill, ForFarmers and De Heus are clients.
by Emmy Koeleman

Brown Mang Onwuka

issues in sustainable agricultural growth

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