Seed Hunter: Dr. Ken Street (02:16)
Dr. Street lives in Syria in what once was the Fertile Crescent where wheat, barley, and chickpeas originated. Street is interested in attaining an ancient variety of wild chickpeas.
Searching for Ancient Farms (05:36)
Street, a member of the ICARDA agricultural research institute, knows the ancient variety of the wild chickpea can only be found in remote areas of political discord. Assembling an international team of agricultural scientists, Street set off on a 14 day seed hunt in Tajikistan.
Adaptation of Wheat (04:53)
John Shepherd, an Australian wheat breeder, is fighting the climate change crisis effect on their wheat crops. Street is attempting to pilot a successful seed hunt on a tiny research budget.
Researching Agriculture in Tajikistan (02:15)
The research team scavenges the hills and farms of Khujand, but their Russian vans make traveling through Tajikistan problematic.
Modern and Ancient Crops (01:21)
Street and his researchers struggle to gain access to a restricted area of remote, northern Tajikistan. No seed collectors have searched the isolated farms who used variations of the ancient seeds to produce hardy crops.
Developing Better Seeds and Crops (02:54)
Several land races of wheat are found in a small, remote field, but most local farmers have been convinced to use high-yielding, modern breeds of wheat. The green revolution of the 1960s pushed for the use of modern seeds in order to feed the developing world.
Adapting Plants for High Salinity (02:08)
Land degraded due to climate change can become salt-ridden plains that few plants are able to withstand or adapt to. Graduate student Caitlin Byrt is a member of a team at CSIRO and uses an EC meter to measure the salinity of soil.
Altering the Seed Search Route (07:44)
Natalia Rukin approaches elderly farmers in Tajikistan to find ancient grains and chickpeas. Farmers like Ian McClelland in Australia have relied on modern seeds and technology; Street discovers their seed hunt is following in the footsteps of a German agricultural aid agency.
Creating Seeds for the Future (03:50)
The agricultural research team keeps detailed records of the seeds they find in the remote fields of Tajikistan. Byrt states the quickest way to combine the genes of the ancient seeds with the modern ones is through genetic engineering.
Cutting the Agricultural Mission Short (07:05)
Street finds a field full of the modern variety of chickpeas, but no landraces. Meanwhile in Australia, Byrt's team has discovered wheat with salt-tolerant genes they will cross-pollinate with the modern varieties.
An Agricultural Success (07:17)
Street only has three days with the research team to find the wild chickpeas; he states the ancient variety of the seed contains a hardy variety of genes. After being airlifted atop a mountain, several species of wild chickpea are discovered.
Creating the Future of Farming (02:07)
In Syria, Street gives the ancient seeds to local wheat farmers; the highly adaptive chickpea seeds have the ability to withstand the dry conditions of the area. Street places the ancient seeds in the bunker of Svalbard built to withstand global catastrophe.
Credits: Seed Hunter (00:48)
Credits: Seed Hunter
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