Rice and Shine
Farmers may be able to significantly reduce or even eliminate their use of pesticides by planting different strains of rice, wheat, or other crops in the same field, according to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature. Researchers studied farms in China’s Yunnan Province where a variety of rice strains were planted and found that the mixed fields were far less vulnerable to rice blast, a fungus that attacks rice crops, and that the yields were 89 percent higher than those of fields where just one strain of rice was planted. The research challenges modern agricultural methods that rely on crop monocultures and heavy use of chemicals. The study also questions the need for genetically modified, pest-resistant crops, indicating that organic methods may be superior.