Defending crops with maths
A mathematical toolkit could dramatically reduce crop losses from pests and pathogens.
7 April 2011
The world faces a potential food crisis in the coming decades as the population grows inexorably and as climate-related changes intensify pressures on food production. Given that the most productive land is already being used around the globe, simply increasing crop production is not the answer. One way to safeguard food security is to increase the yield of crops from the same amount of land and also to minimise the amount lost to pests and pathogens - the so-called untaken harvest.
Moreover, outbreaks of disease can sometimes reach epidemic proportions, wiping out entire crops, often with substantial social and economic consequences. Today, epidemics such as cassava mosaic disease, citrus canker, sugar beet rhizomania and a particularly alarming new wheat pathogen, Ug99, threaten important agricultural and food crops in regions across the globe.
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