News Items from UNC Greensboro

Portrait of Dr. Olav RueppellDr. Olav Rueppell (Biology) is one of 13 winners of the 2013 BREAD (Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development) Ideas Challenge, co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. Under the premise to stimulate novel research fields to help sustainable agricultural development, “individuals were selected for their entries that articulated novel or under-studied scientific challenges facing smallholder farmers in the developing world.” Rueppell’s entry explained “Smallholder farmers often must subsist on small areas of nutrient-impoverished land. Ironically, industrialization has released the building blocks of these same nutrients into the air in the form of aerial pollutants. Some plants (e.g. epiphytes) can make use of these aerial nutrients, but most of these have low growth rates or are not agriculturally useful.” The challenge? Develop knowledge and means to create or modify crops to make use of aerial nutrients, increasing smallholder farmers’ yields in nutrient-deficient land while reducing their dependence on chemical fertilizers. More information is at the BREAD Challenge site.

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