What’s the news regarding food for the new millennium?
U.S. agriculture will continue to produce low-cost food supplies and will help feed the world in the 21st century. Tomorrow’s technologies -- genomic science, biotechnology and integrated systems carried out in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University -- will be key to maintaining our world food supply. These technologies will improve crop yields and nutritional quality, as well as ensure food safety.
The following are some NC State programs that will help improve food for the future:
- Plant and livestock breeders have long recognized the role genetics play in improving food products, but traditional breeding can take decades. Through genomic science, researchers in NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are learning to identify genes for improved traits in livestock and crops. They also use biotechnology to transfer the beneficial genes into the next generation, without transferring genes for undesirable traits.
- Farmers using satellite technology? Sounds futuristic, but NC State is a leader in using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to help farmers create maps showing the varied nutrient needs across a crop field. Such technology, called precision agriculture, is designed to help farmers use nutrients where they are needed most, to increase crop yields to feed the world more efficiently and to protect the environment.
- Savvy consumers want to know that the food they eat has the fewest possible chemical residues. Using biotechnology, NC State researchers are looking for genetic cues to make crops naturally resistant to certain pests, thereby reducing the need for agricultural chemicals.
- Reducing the use of pesticides is the goal of Integrated Pest Management strategies advanced by NC State scientists. Through careful observation, growers look for evidence of insect damage to plants in order to apply pesticides sparingly and to use chemicals that attack specific insect pests without harming beneficial insects.
- Scientists are beginning to understand the role that wind and climate conditions play in the onset of diseases that attack crops. To protect crops, NC State scientists have issued weather-based advisories to let farmers know when disease spores for peanut leaf spot and cucurbit downy mildew are present and could damage crops Other crop advisories may be added as more is learned about the spread of disease spores by wind.