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For the latest agricultural news and advice,
visit the Growth Spurts blog

Less Fertilizer, More Nutrition
Giving too much phosphorus to wheat and barley plants has been shown to raise the amount stored as phytate, rather than as more digestible forms of phosphorus.  The researchers found that soil phosphorus levels may affect grain phytate levels as much as plant breeding can, offering two complementary solutions to the nutritional and environmental problems caused by high phytate levels in grains. Besides being more environmentally sound, getting the application rate for phosphorus fertilizers just right might improve the nutrients delivered by grain crops such as wheat and barley.... continued

Essentials of Disease in Wild Animals
Essentials of Disease in Wild Animals
 Zoonoses Threaten Humans, Livestock
Wild birds helped spread the West Nile virus and deer are unwitting confederates in the dissemination of Lyme Disease. Rodents are harbingers of hantavirus and avian influenza flies in on the wings of wild waterfowl. The emergence, transmission, and control of all these diseases is in some way connected to wildlife, as are rabies, tularemia, plague, brucellosis, SARS and dozens of other human and livestock afflictions.  Today's critter populations may be closely managed and monitored, but the viruses and bacteria within them are still wild and their bite can be lethal..... continued.
New Beans More Disease-Resistant 
Five new pinto bean lines released by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) can resist significant bean diseases. The new lines, known as “BelDakMi-RMR” and numbered 19 to 23, are resistant to common bean rust, caused by the rust fungus Uromyces appendiculatus, and to the common mosaic and common mosaic necrosis viruses. These diseases reduce yield and crop quality and increase production costs. Most commercial bean varieties contain two or fewer disease-resistance genes. The BelDakMi pintos have six resistance genes--more than any other known bean. Each contains four genes for resistance to U. appendiculatus, and two for resistance to bean common mosaic and bean common mosaic necrosis. continued.

Direct from the Grower

Database Nation
The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century 
Producers' Personal Information Released
 The Farm Service Agency  (FSA) announced today that a firm under contract with its  Kansas City Administrative Office inadvertently released  the social security and tax identification numbers of  approximately 350,000 participants in the tobacco buyout  program as part of a response to a number of Freedom of  Information Act (FOIA) requests. The social security and tax identification numbers, which are protected from release under terms of the Privacy Act, were inadvertently sent to eight requesters  on January 19, 2006, along with program data authorized  for release.  FSA officials discovered the error on  February 9, 2006 .... continued.
Mushrooms' Secret May Fuel Alternative Energies 
 Fallen logs on the forest floor make a perfect home for Shiitake mushrooms. These fungi -- sold as a delicacy in the produce section of your local supermarket -- thrive on the downed wood, turning it into sugars that they use for food. Agricultural Research Service scientists in California have found and copied a Shiitake gene that's key to the mushroom's ability to dissolve wood.... continued.

Mushroom Kit

Growth Spurt Archives


Plant Roots
Plant Roots
Growth, Function and Interactions with the Soil

Flowering and its Manipulation
Flowering and its Manipulation

Diesel Tractor

Under the Tuscan Sun

Organic Seasalt

Nontimber Forest Products in the United States