b'EXTRASFARM ROBOTS ARE THE FUTURE; LETS STARTNEW TOMATO BREEDING INITIATIVE THE FIRST PREPARING NOW, RESEARCHER ARGUES OF ITS KIND IN CANADANo longer science fiction, farm robots are already hereand theyFour horticultural research projects at the Vineland Research have created two possible extremes for the future of agricultureand Innovation Centre (VRIC) in Ontario will bolster the horti-and its impacts on the environment, argues agricultural econo- culture sector, including an on-the-vine breeding program for mist Thomas Daum in a Science & Society article published Julygreenhouse tomatoes, which is the first of its kind in Canada. 13 in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution. One is a utopia,The program focuses on developing high-yield varieties with where fleets of small, intelligent robots farm in harmony withimproved flavour and production traits that are adapted to nature to produce diverse, organic crops. The other is a dystopiaCanada\'s climate.in which large, tractor-like robots subdue the landscape throughThe projects will receive a total of $4 million in government heavy machinery and artificial chemicals. funding.He describes the utopian scenario as a mosaic of rich, greenThe Government of Canada\'s confidence in Vineland fields, streams, and wild flora and fauna, where fleets of smallthrough investment in horticulture innovation means new vari-robots fueled by sustainable energy flit around the fields, theireties preferred by consumers and adapted for the Canadian whirrs intermixed with insect chirps and birdsong. Its like aclimate and new crop protection solutions making better use Garden of Eden, says Daum, a research fellow at the Universityof resources and helping the sector be more sustainable. We of Hohenheim in Germany studying agricultural developmentappreciate the continued support of our work to enhance the sec-strategies. Small robots could help conserve biodiversity andtor\'s competitiveness and drive short- and long-term economic combat climate change in ways that were not possible before. growth, said Ian Potter, president and CEO, Vineland Research He suggests that the utopian scenario, which is too laborand Innovation Centre.intensive for conventional farming but is possible with robotsVRIC will also receive up to $877,000 to help make Canadian working 24/7, would likely benefit the environment in numerousroses more disease resistant and adaptive, so that they may ways. Plants would be more diverse and the soil would be morereach more domestic and international markets. A further nutrient-rich. Thanks to micro-spraying of biopesticides and laser$931,000 will support the Centres work to discover and eval-weed removal, nearby water, insect populations, and soil bacteriauate new biocontrol solutions to advance the research on pest would also be healthier. Organic crops yieldswhich are currentlymanagement for the Canadian greenhouse sector. These projects often lower than conventional crop yieldswould be higher, andare also supported through the AgriScience Program.farmings environmental footprint would be significantly reduced. The fourth project will help VRIC lay the foundation to ramp up the conversion of horticultural waste into value-added ingre-dients in Canada. Up to $200,000 will be provided for the project NEW SCOTTISH KNOWLEDGE PORTAL TO OFFERthrough the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program.ACCESS TO WEALTH OF RESEARCHA new website which brings together thousands of researchSCIENTISTS GATHER IN CATALONIA FOR LARGE publications, dating back centuries to the present day, has beenFIELD CAMPAIGN TO STUDY EXTREME WEATHERlaunched by six Scottish Government funded partners.The new Research Scotland portal (https://research-scot- More than 60 scientists from renowned European and North land.ac.uk) will collate publications from Biomathematics andAmerica institutions gather in Catalonia this month for a joint Statistics Scotland, James Hutton Institute, Marine Scotland,research into understanding extreme weather events, in particu-Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, SASA and the Moredunlar drought, extreme temperatures and wildfires. Forecasting Research Institute. It will make it easier for members of theextreme weather under a mosaic of landscapes is one of the big-public to access full-text research on areas like climate change,gest challenges that environmental scientists are facing today. biodiversity loss and the state of our waters and oceans in oneThe data gathered during this field campaign, will aid to improve place, free of charge. climate and weather model projections.The available publications date from 1683 and range fromThe study domain, the Ebro Basin in Catalonia, is not ran-the Hortus medicus edinburgensis, the first catalogue of plantsdomly chosen explains Oscar Hartogensis, project leader on growing in the Botanic Garden, right up to the outputs frombehalf of the Meteorology and Air Quality (MAQ) at Wageningen current publicly funded research. An example of the wealthUniversity & Research (WUR). "The basin stretches from the of research available through the new portal is a paper on thePyrenees to the Iberian System. In its natural state the area is spatial distribution of marine litter on the northwest Europeana desert and experiences extreme temperatures, drought and continental shelf. The study looks at how the prevailing windwildfires. Over the last century a very large 60 x 60 km2 irri-direction impacts on how much litter is washed on to, and offgated area has been developed within this zone that is used for from, beaches in Scotland. This information can be used, along- fruit cultivation. The area is playing a key role in the regional side monitoring data from a citizen science programme run byeconomy.the Marine Conservation Society that measures the amount of litter on beaches, to help managers and policy makers measure the success of litter reduction strategies.RBGEs Dr Lorna Mitchell, Research Scotland project lead, said: By bringing together publications into one single platform, Research Scotland is helping to present a fuller picture of work that has previously been produced and identifying gaps where further research is required across some of our big global soci-etal issues like climate change and biodiversity loss.58IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'