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Significant room for improvement exists in the environmental efficiency of both crop production and the control of pollution from nitrogen-fertilizer runoff, says a new study from Teresa Serra, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.

Paper: 'Considerable scope' for improvement in agricultural pollution

Author: Phil Ciciora, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:April 21, 2015

While different sustainability indicators have been developed at an aggregate level, less attention has been paid to farm-level sustainability measures. A study from a University of Illinois expert in production economics and efficiency analysis has developed technical and environmental efficiency indices for agriculture that can be used to assess sustainability at the farm level.

Published Date: April 21, 2015


Plant biology professor Stephen Long and colleagues report on advances and challenges in improving plant photosynthesis.

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed the world by 2050

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 26, 2015

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in the journal Cell.

Published Date: March 26, 2015


Plant biology professor Ray Ming and his colleagues discovered that papaya cultivation 4,000 years ago likely led to the evolution of hermaphrodite plants, which are favored by growers today.

Cultivated papaya owes a lot to the ancient Maya, research suggests

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 17, 2015

A genetic study of papaya sex chromosomes reveals that the hermaphrodite version of the plant, which is of most use to growers, arose as a result of human selection, most likely by the ancient Maya some 4,000 years ago.

Published Date: March 17, 2015


Animated videos teach survival gardening. From left: Carl Burkybile, agricultural director of Healing Hands International, worked with entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, animator Benjamin Blalock, Center for African Studies assistant director Julia Bello-Bravo and animator Anna Perez Sabater to develop the videos, which HHI distributes around the world.

Survival gardening education goes global via cellphones

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 16, 2015

Subsistence farmers in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean are learning how to construct raised planting beds and install drip irrigation systems to boost their agricultural productivity, conserve water and perhaps even halt the rapid advance of desertification in some drought-prone regions.

Published Date: March 16, 2015


University of Illinois plant biology professor Katy Heath and her colleagues found that long-term nitrogen fertilizer use disrupts the mutually beneficial relationship between legumes and soil microbes.

Long-term nitrogen fertilizer use disrupts plant-microbe mutualisms

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 23, 2015

When exposed to nitrogen fertilizer over a period of years, nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia evolve to become less beneficial to legumes – the plants they normally serve, researchers report in a new study.

Published Date: February 23, 2015