Food & Agriculture

Compost, cover crops increase carbon in soil

November 28, 2019
In a 19-year study at the University of California, Davis, scientists dug six feet down in a study plot to compare changes in soil carbon in conventional, cover-cropped, and compost-added plots of corn-tomato and wheat-fallow cropping systems. Their findings showed that soil health and the importance of carbon is more complex than often realized but, with the right management, the soil is a huge natural resource where carbon can be sequestered. The implications are that the right applications not only help to slow the rapid rise of carbon in the atmosphere but foster effective sustainable agriculture.

New Packaging Aims to Prevent Produce Spoilage

January 09, 2019
There’s an old saying that “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.” But that may no longer be the case thanks to new materials being developed by UC Davis researchers to line produce bins and for reusable packaging. UC Davis food scientist Nitin Nitin with samples of antifouling, antibacterial plastic. The material could be used for packaging and for lining produce bins. The goal is to produce plastics that both repel bacteria and reduce food-spoilage microbes. The antimicrobial activity comes from chlorine bound to the plastic. It would be recharged by rinsing with a bleach solution. The bacteria-repelling, or antifouling property comes from the plastic itself. It feels slippery, so if bacteria cannot stick to a surface, they cannot grow and form a contaminating film.

Harnessing Plant Microbiomes to Promote Agricultural Growth

February 28, 2018
In a paper appearing in PLOS Biology, Joseph Edwards, ’17 Ph.D. in Plant Biology, Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan, Departments of Plant Biology and Plant Sciences and their colleagues tracked root microbiome shifts throughout the life-cycle of rice plants (Oryza sativa). The research could help inform the design of agricultural probiotics by introducing age-appropriate microbes that promote traits like nutrient efficiency, strong roots and increased growth rates in the plants.