. Here are just seven examples of how nuclear technology is improving agriculture:
Improved soil and water balance
Nuclear techniques are now used in many countries to help maintain healthy soil and water systems, which are paramount in ensuring food security for the growing global population. For instance, in Benin, a scheme involving 5 000 rural farmers increased the maize yield by 50 percent and lowered the amount of fertilizer used by 70 percent with techniques that facilitate nitrogen fixation. Similarly, nuclear techniques allow Maasai farmers in Kenya to schedule small-scale irrigation, doubling vegetable yields while applying only 55 percent of the water that would normally be applied using traditional hand watering.
Animal productivity and health
Nuclear and related technologies have made a difference in improving livestock productivity, controlling and preventing transboundary animal diseases and protecting the environment. For example, Cameroon uses nuclear technology effectively in its livestock reproduction, breeding, artificial insemination and disease control programmes. By crossing the Bos indicus and the Bos taurus (two local cattle breeds), farmers have tripled their milk yields – from 500 to 1 500 litres – and generated an additional USD 110 million in farmer income per year.
The nuclear-derived sterile insect technique (SIT) involves mass-rearing and sterilizing male insects before releasing them over pest-infested areas. The technique suppresses and gradually eliminates already established pests or prevents the introduction of invasive species – and is safer for the environment and human health than conventional pesticides.