According to a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, global warming has posed a rising threat to the whitebark pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains as native mountain pine beetles climb ever higher, attacking trees that have not evolved strong defenses to stop them. The whitebark pine forests of the western United States and Canada are the forest ecosystems that occur at the highest elevation that sustains trees. It is critical habitat for iconic species such as the grizzly bear and plays an important role in governing the hydrology of the mountain west by shading snow and regulating the flow of meltwater.
According to UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Experts, approximately 25 billion tons of soil are lost every year due to erosion. Staggeringly, it takes 500 years to replace just one inch of top soil. UGA Cooperative Extension offers important tips to help to prevent erosion and benefit future generations. Some easy ways to reduce erosion at home include planting a grass lawn, planting ground cover plants, and building a terrace.
According to University of Maryland Professor Patrick Kangas, algae could be a very important biofuel producer for the future. “Algae actually grows faster than any other kinds of plants,” Dr. Kangas said. “That’s why it may well be the best source as a feedstock for biofuel.” Dr. Kangas has been studying algae and its potential to help reduce water pollution and produce fuel since 1979. His work was recently highlighted on CNN in an interview about the importance of backing algae research.
According to Ryan Van Roekel, a doctoral student in the University of Arkansas College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, Arkansas’ annual soybean yield can keep improving. His research has applied various practices in Fayetteville and eastern Arkansas test fields in pursuit of the maximum yield of soybean. Management practices such as soil sampling, amending with fertilizer, early planting, and choosing the right soybean variety can all help Arkansas growers get even more out of their soybean crops.
Two researchers from NCSU’s Plants for Human Health Institute have discovered evidence that natural steroids from certain plants such as mustard greens, collards, broccoli, and kale can increase lean body mass, the number of muscle fibers, as well as overall muscle endurance – and possibly without the side effects incurred by the use of animal-derived steroids.
Debora Esposito, post-doctoral associate at Rutgers and NCSU explained that “Our goal is for … a person who is aging, a person who is in the hospital and cannot exercise, a person who had surgery and cannot go to the gym” to get muscle help from a healthy substance they can take orally”.
NDSU Extension service agricultural engineers remind us that grain temperature is an important factor in stored grain – and in order to protect those handling the grain as well as the grain itself, it’s important to check to assure that the grain temperature is at 20 to 30 degrees in northern states and below 40 degrees in warmer regions of the country to prevent insects “The early 2012 harvest and warm fall increase the likelihood of storage problems…” according to Ken Hellevang of NDSU, and due to the market value of soybean and wheat, “monitoring and managing the stored grain to prevent problems is worth your time”.
University of Florida researchers have discovered for the first time that some Earth bacteria can live under the same low pressure conditions found on Mars. The results could help scientists protect Mars from contamination by Earth bacteria during spacecraft missions, as well as aid in the search for life on that planet. Andrew Schuerger, a co-author of the studies and a research assistant professor in UF’s plant pathology department. Understanding the minimum set of conditions required for bacterial growth and replication on the Martian surface is key, said Andrew Schuerger, a co-author of the studies and a research assistant professor in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences plant pathology department.
California rangelands cover nearly 40 million acres, providing environmental and economic benefits such as livestock forage, wildlife habitat, and plant biodiversity. They are also important for cycling nutrients, sequestering carbon, and generating more than 85 percent of California’s drinking water supply. However, due to changes such as oak tree removal over the past century have put California rangelands at high risk of degradation. UC Davis Cooperative Extension experts are hard at work at the California Rangeland Watershed Laboratory conducting research and community outreach to discover and promote conservation and preservation techniques to preserve this important natural resource and improve biodiversity and agricultural production.
Chefs and home cooks in the eastern U.S. could soon have easier access to a local “super food,” thanks to a Cornell-led team of researchers working to expand broccoli’s availability at farms, farmer’s markets and grocery stores from Maine to Florida. Currently, most U.S. broccoli production is based on the west coast, leading to high energy expenses and higher prices for east coast consumers. Thomas Björkman, associate professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is leading a team that includes researchers from public broccoli-breeding programs and private seed companies, production specialists and economists in building a regional food network for the vegetable. Their goal is to move production from isolated pockets to a year-round market worth $100 million a year.
NMSU will hold the annual Chile Pepper conference Feb. 4 and 5th at Hotel Encanto De Las Cruces. The conference will feature practical solutions for chile growers, processors and producers. It will cover topics such as solutions for diseases and pest management, as well as latest updates on management practices and food safety. Conference speakers will also address genomics, including information about unraveling the chile pepper genome, the potentials of biotechnology, fungicides, curly top virus, food bio-security, direct marketing, social media and laws governing food safety and labeling.
Waterhemp was a significant weed issue in corn and soybean production in the central and western corn belt in the mid-1990s, and was formerly handled using herbicides. Today, crop producers have come upon new mutations of the waterhemp weed that can now resist most herbicides and are proving to act as a thorn in the side of farmers. Researchers from University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources are hard at work to develop new weed reduction methods that require further understanding of the weed’s biological structure.
The School of Ants project, originally begun at North Carolina State University, has moved its home base to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Since 2011, the project’s founder, Professor Andrea Lucky, and her colleagues have been working with everyday people around the country to gather data on different ant species in hopes of being able to better track epidemics and issues associated with different types of ants. Participants collect ants from their yards and neighborhoods, then entomologists identify each species and plot its location on digital maps that, eventually, will provide a snapshot of ant distribution around the country. “Knowledge of the presence of a species of ant might help for things like quarantine and control, if the species is a problem,” Lucky said. “If we find a rare ant, or an ant that’s way outside its known range, we may want to keep an eye on it purely for academic purposes.” Since Florida is home to over 200 species of ants, scientists are excited about making it the new home base of the project.
The Ohio State University CFAES and the Touchstone Research Laboratory have begun to study the use of algae in an attempt to develop new efficient and renewable sources of natural fuel. The oil derived from algae could also be used to develop bio-plastics, food supplements and many other products in a sustainable and cost effective way – with the program at Cedar Lane Farms boasting of goals to ultimately “make the algae industry competitive with petroleum fuels.”
The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences recently completed a 4-year studying alternatives to corn-producing ethanol. According tho the study’s findings, Perennial biofuel crops such as miscanthus, are now shown to have another beneficial characteristic–the ability to reduce the escape of nitrogen in the environment. The study compared miscanthus, switchgrass, and mixed prairie species to typical corn-corn-soybean rotations, each of the perennial crops were highly efficient at reducing nitrogen losses, with miscanthus having the greatest yield. According to Mark David, U of I biogeochemist, results from this study clearly show these crops have the potential to quickly and greatly reduce nitrogen losses that have important environmental effects, while providing a large biomass harvest.
Through some very thorough research that involved an abundant variety of different and specifically engineered tomatoes (about 100) and an extensive amount of taste testing (13 panels of 100 people for each variety of tomato), the team compared the results and chronicled the genes and biochemical pathways responsible for producing the “volatiles”, or chemicals that give fresh tomatoes their characteristic flavor and aroma. They exhibited the same type of experiment with different varieties of strawberries, and made some exciting discoveries – “So when you bite into a strawberry, you think when it tastes sweet, you’re tasting sugar. But 10 percent of that ‘sweet’ is in the volatiles. It turns out that fruit has been using this mechanism forever and we didn’t know it”
Agricultural meteorologists from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture warn that artic temperatures may have a drastic impact on Kentucky agriculture if producers are not prepared. UK livestock specialists said animals have a higher requirement for energy in the colder months, so producers should have high-quality grains and forages on hand to meet their needs. Additionally, livestock producers should make sure animals have adequate shelter, water, dry bedding and feed to make it through this cold spell. Pet owners should bring pets indoors, and monitoring of livestock body temperature and condition should be highly increased.
A collaboration between Fort Valley State University’s Meat Technology Center and the Ellenwood-based Gotcha Goat company is putting goat meat in dozens of Kroger grocery stores. It all started when David Martin and his wife, Frances, approached FVSU in 2010 to seek assistance with the production and marketing of goat meat products. “We told them that we could process goat meat and help them get into the market,” said Terrill Hollis, meat plant manager at the center. Hollis and the Gotcha Goat representatives discussed the pros and cons of such an operation. “They came up with the ‘Gotcha Goat’ brand, and we started processing from there,” Hollis said. Fort Valley State started processing goats for the company last March, and FVSU workers process from 25 to 50 goats per visit.
Due to a recent explosion in demand for locally grown blackberries and raspberries for their “superfood”-like health benefits, OSU Extension researchers are currently in the middle of a multi-year project to develop alternative planting methods that help Ohio growers increase their yields of the fruit. Faced with a 300% growth in blackberry/raspberry consumption, growers could now accept the challenge of meeting that demand by growing more winter-hardy varieties of blackberries and raspberries, which typically don’t tend to do well through harsh Ohio Winters.
According to Randall Miles, associate professor of soil science at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, said that two years of drought in the Heartland have left many prime growing areas bone dry to at least five feet down. Even if the Midwest gets normal rain and snow, it will take almost two years for soil moisture deep in the earth to recharge and sustain normal crop growth. This is where the roots of the crops live, sucking up moisture and nutrients. Without enough water, these crops produce poor yields “Don’t count a full recovery of soil moisture soon,” Miles said. “Even if parts of the Midwest receive a lot of snowfall and rain, that moisture will take time to move deep into the soil where the driest conditions exist.”
A university of Illinois researcher believes that the solution to the rising threat of invasive species entering Lake Michigan via the growing Asian carp population lies not only in an electric fence, but also in the use of CO2 gas. Cory Suski explains that the use of CO2 can act as an “anesthetic gas” for fish that fail to leave an area in due time or risk the loss of equilibrium.
Cornell student Spenser Reed ’14, a life-long type 1 diabetic and double major in food science and nutritional sciences, has begun researchfocused on evaluating the properties of plants that affect human cells — specifically those plants used by indigenous groups to treat type 1 diabetes. Reed selected five plants to survey for anti-diabetic properties. One of his choices, the avocado leaf, particularly stood out because itwas rumored to be helpful in treating diabetes when brewed in a tea.
After positive results from a series of in vitro tests including an antibiotic test; an allelopathy test that measures the ability of extracted compounds to influence growth and metabolism; and a toxicity test, Reed performed an oral glucose tolerance test on himself that involved drinking sugar water prior to drinking a tea brewed from the avocado leaf and measuring his postprandial, or after-eating, blood glucose levels every 30 minutes. The results were again positive for the avocado leaf as a diabetes-fighting agent. Reed’s next step is to move from isolating and characterizing the bioactive chemicals in traditional plant remedies to testing their effects in live organism – with hopes that his work will eventually lead to an animal or cell-based assay.
The warmer-than-normal temperatures of 2012 — thefourth warmest year on record in South Carolina —signal potential challenges for growers of the state’s best-known fruit. According to Clemson University plant biologistDouglas Bielenberg, the cold of winter is essential to the dormant stage of peach blossoms. “The tree must get sufficient chilling hours to trigger buds to open. Without this chill time, very few peach varieties will bloom well, if at all,” Bielenberg says. Conducting research at the Clemson University Experiment Station, Bielenberg’s work on plant dormancy and chilling can help plant breeders and the S.C. peach industry deal with agricultural and economic consequences of climate change.
Environmental scientists worry about airborne mercury because when it falls to earth, the metal can transform into a toxic organic form that travels up aquatic food chains, harming wildlife and people. A new study reports that the methods scientists use to monitor mercury in the air underestimate the levels of a reactive form of the metal. This form, which microorganisms readily transform into toxic methylmercury, may be two to three times more abundant in the atmosphere than previously thought, the researchers say.
With the recent boom in understanding of the health benefits of berries for the fight against cancer, researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered that two families of pigments that provide berries with their colors, called anthocyanins, are more susceptible to degradation in the mouth than are the other four classes of these pigments – meaning that they are mostly broken down by bacteria in the saliva. This has led to investigation of whether it’s the berry pigments themselves, or instead the products of their degradation, that actually promote health; and researchers from The Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences are now moving their testing forward to include live human volunteers rather than in test tubes.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumed by 3 billion people, rice is arguably the world’s most important food staple, and one reason for its popularity is that rice can be grown under flooded conditions that suppress weeds, making cultivation easier.
In some parts of the world, water is in short supply, but farmers often devote what they can to rice farming because the crop is so important. However, research has led to a simple but profound solution that requires less water – growing rice in fields, a practice called aerobic rice production.
Researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, and the U.S. Department of Agricultural Research Service on the Cornell Campus believe to have isolated a set of chemical changes to a plant’s DNA, or epigenetics, that play a pivotal role in tomato ripening and signal to the fruit when the time is right to redden. This research opens the door to new ways of thinking about how to develop varieties of tomatoes that can survive the trip from the farm to the grocery store with flavor and texture intact, ending the long lost search for ways to control the ripening process by improving fruit quality and preventing spoilage.
Although reports of drought conditions, water wars and restrictions have often painted a bleak picture of the nation’s water availability, a new University of Florida survey finds that conditions aren’t quite so bad as believed.
Jim Jawitz, a UF soil and water science professor, and Julie Padowski, who earned her doctoral degree from UF and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, knew that previous assessments of urban water supplies typically used what is known as a “runoff-based approach,” which takes into account factors such as river flows and rainfall amounts. This research could prove important for farming communities around the nation
A team of scientists from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture are conducting research to investigate the effects of cattle grazing wheat that will later be harvested for grain. Extending the grazing season is good for herd health and is cost effective. But it is difficult to do in the winter when very few grasses are growing. If cattle can successfully graze on wheat without damaging the crop’s chances of flourishing later, this could be a huge cost and time saver for producers. “In the cattle business, we say any day grazing is a good day, and beef cattle wintering costs are so high,” said Roy Burris, UK extension beef specialist. “If cattle can graze the wheat, it will be good for the cattle and good for producers’ pocketbooks.”
Imagine that a river could talk. Imagine that it could convey its condition to the people who manage the water flow needed for drinking water…hydroelectric power…recreation…and industrial production. Imagine an Intelligent River.Water flows. So does information. Water resource managers need to know immediately — not days or weeks later — if there is a dangerous change in water temperature, oxygen levels, flow-rate or chemical make-up. Imagine a system that reports this information as it’s happening. That vision is being realized today by the Intelligent River project at Clemson. The same technology that’s being used to monitor rivers can be used to monitor virtually anything. Plans are already in the works for an Intelligent Farm, Intelligent Forest…even Intelligent Buildings and Roads
University of Arkansas Extension experts warn fruit producers of the dangerous impact that spotted wing drosophila , or SWD, can have on crops. SWD is already blamed for tens of millions of dollars in damage to fruit in both east and west coast states, and some central states. Unfortunately, its presence has now been confirmed in Arkansas as well. University of Arkansas Extension experts urge state fruit growers to learn to identify, sample for, and control the spotted wing drosophila. The spotted wing drosophila, or SWD, cuts through the skin of ripening fruit, and its eggs and larvae go on to damage, infect, and disfigure the fruit. In Arkansas, the fruit industry is worth millions- U of Arkansas experts provide more information for growers on this threatening pest to help avoid falling victim to the millions of dollars worth of damage that it has the potential to do.
Forest pathologist Jason Smith, an associate professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences developed a new and improved method to test imported pine seeds for fungi that carry pitch canker disease, a common fungal disease in pine seeds. The test, which can detect a specific DNA molecule and eliminate any doubt about the identity of a fungus, makes important improvements to the method currently endorsed by the International Seed Testing Association which was slow and yielded uncertain results. Now, the test can be completed in half the time with 66% more accuracy.
Earthworms are long revered for their beneficial role in soil fertility, but with the good comes the bad: they also increase greenhouse gas emissions from soils, according to a study published Feb. 3 in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, soil scientist.
The team found that earthworms do not, as was suspected, stimulate carbon sequestration in the soil, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, they actually increase greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of ways.
Two MU School of Natural Resources sustainability experts will be featured at the inaugural SEC Symposium, “Impact of the Southeast in the World’s Renewable Energy Future” Feb. 10-12 in Atlanta.
Shibu Jose and Hank Stelzer, two researchers from the University of Missouri, will display the latest results from their research on renewable energy during the symposium
Once a major threat to the tomato industry, the thrips-vectored tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) has been unable to penetrate the vegetable’s latest line of defense — resistant cultivars.
Scientists from the University of Georgia, University of Florida and Clemson, North Carolina State universities have collaborated over the last two decades in an effort to try to alleviate what had become a deadly problem. The results have proven to be beneficial and profitable for tomato growers
Dave Bohnoff, a CALS professor at biological systems engineering at University of Wisconsin has designed a “Green Frame” building system that replaces the post-frame building used for virtually every new structure on a modern farm ranging from those used to house livestock, store/repair equipment, shelter hay, and many other uses. What’s even better is that these new sustainable structures won’t cost any more to build and can be fabricated on site using materials found on most lumberyards, using tools from any farm shop and basic construction skills.
WACO – A 32 percent decline in Texas beef cattle has many pointing to drought as the main culprit, but there are other factors that have chipped away at inventory levels over the past couple of years, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist. Stan Bevers told beef producers at the Blackland Income Growth Conference that not only has drought forced large sell-offs of cattle down to the point of Texas inventory levels of 1959, but land fragmentation continually is taking away potential beef cattle production
The University of Kentucky’s Integrated Pest Management School is hosting a discussion relating to challenges faced by producers that arose during the 2012 growing season. The school is March 6th at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton and is set to include specialists from the UK College of Agriculture as well as the Kentucky office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Due to the efforts of Iowa State University’s Department of Agronomy, farmers are now able to check soil moisture levels and gather information regarding actual crop water consumption around the state. The upgraded weather stations serve as a tool for risk management for crop producers. The new stations are replacing previous units that have been used to monitor weather data for over 30 years.
Researchers at Cornell University have developed a new strain of Maize with a high iron bioavailability, making absorption of the nutrient more effective. With anemia affecting nearly a quarter of the world population, such a discovery provides a great advantage towards fighting the prevalence of nutritional deficiency. This research is just the start to the scientific initiative to isolate and exploit the availability of other vital dietary nutrients.
Cornell Researchers are finding new sources for syrups similar to that which comes from maple trees – from the sap of birch and walnut trees. This allows for maple croppers to start a whole new crop of trees, such as Birch trees, as soon as maple season ends – using the same equipment used for maple syrup production. According to the director of Cornell’s Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, there are hundreds of millions of tappable birch and walnut trees in the eastern United States, providing a significant opportunity for a valuable forestry crop.
The soybean breeding program at Kansas State University has been hard at work in discovering more efficient ways of production and cultivation. Soybeans provide a great level of versatility in application ranging from feeding methods to cooking oil, creating a scientific urgency to reduce production time and cost. With the introduction of spectral analysis techniques in conjunction with the K-State Agronomy Department, researchers hope to determine yields, stress tolerance as well as disease resistance in order to eliminate unpromising soy bean lines in early stages. The results of such applications so far have been successful, providing hope for a dramatic reduction in production costs for farmers.
HAMMOND, La. – Landscapes around the state are in various stages of their spring awakening, but it is still February. “With our unusually warm January and February, we’re seeing flower buds opening and foliage growth commencing ahead of schedule,” said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. Weather stations and meteorologists around the state reported average daily temperatures this winter have been considerably above normal. In addition, Louisiana has had fewer days below freezing than normal, and some areas south of the I-10/I-12 corridor have not yet had a freeze this winter. During the dormant season, many fruit trees and some landscape plants require a certain number of chilling hours – the amount of time when temperatures are below 45 degrees – in order for them to properly produce fruit or flowers. And they are below average statewide for this winter, Owings said. “The most important months for chilling hours are November through February in Louisiana,” Owings said. “And they are offset by the times when temperatures are above 70 degrees. ”Many mid- to late winter-flowering trees – such as ornamental cherries, Oriental magnolias, swamp red maples and more – are blooming two to three weeks ahead of their normal flowering dates in some parts of the state. In addition, azaleas in south Louisiana began showing signs of bloom opening in January. Normal peak bloom for many of the Indica-type azaleas in south Louisiana is March 20- 25.
University of Arizona associate professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the head of the department of entomology are partnering with Chinese scientists to combat insect resistance to genetically engineered cotton plants. Farmers have struggled for longer than a century to keep two insect pests, cotton bollworm and pink bollworm, from destroying their cotton crops especially in Arizona, where cotton has long been a key industry.
Practical Farmers of Iowa is joining forces with Iowa Learning Farms to provide a farmer showcase on cover crop experiences. Cover crops are gaining tremendous popularity in use as a way to protect soil from wind and water erosion as well as regulating nitrogen emissions and these field days will serve to generate more information on the matter. All conservation practice field days are free, open to public entry and will include lunch.
The University of Georgia is holding a Farm Safety Workshop. This workshop will include classroom presentation, farm equipment demonstrations, and one hour of pesticide credit will be given to those with a private license. Dr. Glen Rains, University of Georgia Professor, will be the guest speaker. The workshop is free but those planning to attend should call the Walker County Extension Office at (706) 638-2548 by March 1st. This is a joint effort of the local Extension Service and Walker County Farm Bureau
University of Hawaii is holding a workshop to help attendees learn what the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) researchers and extension faculty are doing to expand and diversify tilapia aquaculture in Hawaii. Workshop attendees will be participating in a brainstorming session to obtain input on challenges facing Hawaii’s tilapia stakeholders.
For lovers of trees, the F.R. Newman Arboretum is an amazing and wonderful space rich in color, detail, shape and form. The tree collections present visitors with a cornucopia of species, varieties, shapes and colors that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Event runs from January 3, 2013 to February 28, 2013.
A team of scientists in Raleigh and Chapel Hill is working to achieve a salmonella-free line of poultry by manipulating bacteria that live in the intestines of chickens. Researchers will try to identify microscopic elements in the birds’ intestines that might fend off salmonella, and then encourage those “good” bacteria to flourish, said Matthew Koci, associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science at N.C. State University.
Biobutanol shares similar benefits to ethanol with some additional features that give it potential as the biofuel for the future. Biobutanol is less corrosive and can be manufactured and distributed using the existing ethanol production methods and facilities. Researchers at Michigan State University seek to unlock this potential for a renewable transportation fuel.
Thanks to more than a decade of research from Auburn University agriculture experts, a new variety of kiwifruit is now available commercially. In 1985, Alabama Ag Experiment Station researchers began an experiment to see if the subtropical fruit could be grown in Alabama both by home gardeners and commercial crop producers. The new variety of kiwifruit emerged from this study, and after years of research, they are now patented by Auburn University and available on the market. The AU kiwifruit are a new and refreshing variety, with sweet, golden flesh and a smooth, not fuzzy exterior. According to nutritional research, the golden kiwi’s are even higher in antioxidants than their more familiar green cousins. They can also be grown throughout the southeast, and experts predict they will be a huge success.
Instituting a tax on carbon dioxide emissions won’t just benefit the environment but could play a pivotal role in the nation’s economic recovery, said two Cornell economists at a policy briefing for lawmakers and a luncheon for members of the media, both in Washington, D.C., March 1.
UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is working jointly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research Service on the development of a new biofuel. The research team is studying the production of winter-grown, energy beets as a potential energy alternative. If successful, this will provide farmers across the Southeast with a winter crop to grow in rotation with their summer commodities.
Grazing is the most cost-effective method by which producers feed ruminant animals. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture annually hosts two installments of the Kentucky Grazing School in an effort to help producers better manage their grazing systems. The school will cover grazing information specific to Kentucky and focus on spring and summer grazing options.
An international conference next week at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) will examine the feasibility of natural gas as an alternative fuel. The SAE International Natural Gas Symposium Tuesday and Wednesday opens with a high-level overview session providing natural gas production forecasts, infrastructure development, government initiatives and technology trends.
An extract from a shrub often used for medicinal purposes in tropical Africa may have lethal effects against a dangerous parasite that transmits malaria, according to a multi-institutional team of scientists led by researchers at Virginia Tech. Research shows that a compound isolated from this common appears to be useful for the development of drugs targeting the parasites that cause malaria, Plasmodium Falciparum – while interestingly enough the same chemical compound was previously shown to slow the growth of ovarian cancer cells.
The University of Florida’s Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) has begun hosting a monthly webinar series. Entitled ‘Easy as PIE’, the series provides an opportunity to learn about critical issues regarding agriculture and natural resources in an interactive online environment. The program will include presentations from experts and practitioners sharing relevant research, experiences, and recommendations.
According to recent studies, children born in 2000 will have a shorter life span than their parents. The latest laws restricting trans fats and soda have sparked a rush of controversy. And if we continue on our current path, by 2050 we’ll need two more Earths to sustain our increasing population, according to a federal expert.
In the wake of the population declines of bees in the Northeast over the past 150 years, Cornell University scientists began an important research project chronicling bee patterns in the region. “Our goal was to database all major bee collections from the northeastern United States — and to seek trends in relative abundance over time,” said co-author Bryan Danforth, Cornell professor of entomology. “This study shows how important natural history collections are for documenting and studying long-term trends in plants and animals over time,” he said.
North Missouri beef producers are being encouraged to plant a new novel-endophyte fescue variety, according to University of Missouri forage specialist. Their aim is to replace toxic strands of Kentucky 31 tall fescue with a new fescue. These toxin-free fescues make higher grass yields, meaning more opportunity for better livestock gains for producers.
The Rwandan genocide of 1994 scarred its people and its landscape. Cornell graduate student Bryan Sobel is trying to help heal both — using mushrooms. Sobel, a graduate student in the field of horticulture, recently spent two weeks promoting mushroom cultivation to women farmers in the Central African Republic. The short-cycle, high-yield crop could offer a profitable complement to traditional crops in an economy largely driven by subsistence agriculture – and could also replace increase organic matter lost to deforestation, possibly increasing the capacity to plant more permanent crops.
Whether farmers are growing carrots destined to be baby-sized for school lunches, cut into small pieces in frozen pot pie or the classic length sold with their green feathery tops intact, they rely on a collaborative breeding program that has been in the works at UC’s Desert Research and Extension Center near El Centro for nearly 50 years. More than 1,000 varieties are grown each year on a one-acre nematode-free section of the research center with silty clay soil. In 88 beds each 120 feet long, a different carrot variety is planted every six feet under the direction of center superintendent
A new report, “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water and Sunlight,” was completed and submitted as the first ever comprehensive plan for an individual state to provide 100% of its energy from wind, water, and sunlight – while also calculating the number of energy devices, land and ocean areas, as well as jobs and polices required to make the plan a reality. Co-authored by Robert W. Howarth, Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell professor of engineering– the report explained that the project could generate 4.5 million jobs for New York and give the state an opportunity to “lead the nation… toward what we all know must be the energy path of the 21st century”.
The leaders in winemaking, Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, would be pleased to hear that the resulting waste that is left as a result of processing the fruits can now used for biodegradable packaging materials, turned into natural food preservatives, or even used as nutritional enhancement for baked goods. As a nation we process over 4 million tons of grapes yearly, whereas most of the time producers pay for the pulp to be hauled away. The pulp waste, or pomace, is packed with dietary fiber and phenolics, which have antioxidant effects – and OSU Extension specialists explained, “We now know pomace can be a sustainable source of material for a wide range of goods”.
The University of Florida extension program held a Beef/Forage Day at the North Florida Research and Education Center just North of Marianna. The workshop shared some of the latest information pertaining to beef production and forage to those on hand. Attendees of the event were given an opportunity for interchange from experts and have their questions addressed.
The Fort Valley State University extension program will be hosting a program that aims to save farmers money and sustain their agriculture. As part of its 10th anniversatry celebration, the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC) will be conducting a parasite management symposium. The event will provide hands-on parasite control training and presentations from internationally recognized parasitologists and animal scientists. Information gained from attendance could potentially reduce drug costs for animal producers.
In an aim to connect people with the food they eat, the University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension program hosted an egg production seminar. The workshop is part of the UF AGRItunity 2013 Conference. With the popularity of backyard poultry rising, attendees of the conference were treated to an abundance of information on raising chickens and flock management from field experts.
The University of Florida and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science held an open house at the UF Dairy Farm in Hague. The event allowed attendees to tour the farm, have their questions addressed regarding milk production and the research conducted by UF faculty and students. The program provides a firsthand encounter of the dairy process, allowing the public to see ‘Where Milk Comes From’.
The Cooperative Extension program at the University of California will reunite with the National Shearing Program to offer two sessions of their popular sheep shearing school. The five-day course is designed to show participants how to maintain a quality wool clip and minimize stress for both the sheep and shearer. The school is directed towards both beginners and advanced shearers.
Cornell researchers, in cooperation with the Dept. of Agriculture have learned to grow stress-tolerant crops on non-farmable land, rendering some of the world’s most toxic soils moot. In their research of the Maize genome, they found three copies of the same gene known toaffect toxic aluminum tolerance in soil (which rivals drought as a food-security threat in critical tropical food-producing regions).
Acidic soils dissolve aluminum from clays in the soil, making it toxic to plant roots in half the world’s arable lands. The MATE1 gene, which was found in triplicate in aluminum-tolerant maize, turns on in the presence of aluminum ions and expresses a protein that transports citric acid from root tips into the soil, which binds to and locks up aluminum, thereby preventing it from harming roots.
There’s a big difference between the questions what is best for my family? and what kind of agriculture is best for the whole world? According to Maarten Chrispeels, a plant physiologist and UC San Diego distinguished professor emeritus and Global Food Systems Forum panelist, it’s very difficult to choose between organic and GM’s. We’re being bombarded with information, but how much of that is true? Do we even need to choose between the two?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 30 percent of the world’s total land is too acidic to support crop production. The University of Florida Genetics Institute recently identified a strand of corn that is capable of growing in acidic soil that could be a breakthrough for this farming issue. The triplicate gene may ultimately be used to genetically modify plants to adapt to aluminum-rich soil.
A new initiative seeks to provide college students with an introduction to key energy issues. A webinar is going to be held that will highlight frameworks emphasis on critical thinking. In an effort to help address the array of energy challenges facing the country, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Maryland and the Environment and Energy Study Institute to unveil a model curricular framework called ‘Energy 101.’
In southwestern Missouri, cattle theft is posing a problem for farmers and is increasingly getting worse. What was thought to be a problem of the Old West is also presenting itself as a very real 21st century issue. Cattle are much for valuable to producers because they represent an investment rather than mere profit. The Extension program at Missouri University is holding a free branding workshop to help deter thefts by tagging the cows to their rightful owners.
Scientists at the University of Georgia Research program believe that peanut breeding can help alleviate high-priced threats to Georgia’s peanut crop. With Georgia supplying over half of the nation’s peanuts, this breakthrough proves to be invaluable to sustaining the industry. Crop improvement through breeding techniques has already facilitated a nematode-resistance trait, giving hope to more sustainable agriculture for the future.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will host the global Water for Food Conference, where experts from around the world will discuss today’s challenges to agricultural regions around the world. The theme of the conference is “Too Hot, Too Wet, Too Dry: Building Resilient Agroecosystems” and will address how to use the world’s finite water supply to feed a growing global population. This theme is particularly appropriate given the extreme temperatures and weather-related events that have impacted Nebraska and the world in recent years.
The Wooster campus of Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center is recycling waste to alternative energy. The research group employs an anaerobic digestion technology, which turns a variety of organic wastes into biogas that is converted into electricity. The campus is slowly reaching is taking strides in the right direction to reach its goal of carbon neutrality, with nearly a third of the energy required to power the main campus being satiated from these methods.
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources department is working to support the citrus industry in battling the insect disease that is threatening crops. This tiny pest has already destroyed a third of the citrus in Florida and the damage is being detected as far as California. Researchers are working hard to fight back but require much more support towards their efforts. The UC Cooperative Extension is making the initiative to educate commercial growers and the general public statewide about the epidemic.
Rebecca Schneider, Cornell associate professor of natural resources, has led the development of a method to restore agricultural land by adding wood chips and compost into the upper soil layer, and collecting and retaining water to make the most of meager rainfall supplies that can also contribute to soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Prompted by parched land in the Ningxia autonomous region in China, Schneider and other researchers on the project have made several trips to Ningxia in the past two years and have been examining alternative soil amendment types for their ability to improve plant growth since last august.
MANHATTAN, Kan. – With forecasts of snow still a possibility and the wheat just starting to green up in parts of Kansas, it may surprise some wheat growers to know that March is an important month for wheat disease development.
“It turns out that February and March are important because we often receive our first reports of disease activity from states to our south,” said Erick De Wolf, plant pathologist with K-State Research and Extension. “This is particularly relevant for the rust diseases, which often survive the winter in these southern climates.”
So far this year there are several reports of rust developing in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, De Wolf said. Stripe rust has been observed in all four states and appears to be spreading beyond the initial foci of infection. Leaf rust has been reported in Texas, but not the other states.
MANHATTAN, Kan. – With forecasts of snow still a possibility and the wheat just starting to green up in parts of Kansas, it may surprise some wheat growers to know that March is an important month for wheat disease development.
“It turns out that February and March are important because we often receive our first reports of disease activity from states to our south,” said Erick De Wolf, plant pathologist with K-State Research and Extension. “This is particularly relevant for the rust diseases, which often survive the winter in these southern climates.”
So far this year there are several reports of rust developing in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, De Wolf said. Stripe rust has been observed in all four states and appears to be spreading beyond the initial foci of infection. Leaf rust has been reported in Texas, but not the other states.
The University of Wisconsin Extension has noticed a large jump in the use of cover crops among farmers. This is because farmers are trying to improve the quality of crop residues in order to get away from commercial supplements. Why not? Especially since there are benefits producers can experience when planting cover crops, like increasing yields of crops like corn and soybeans.
CALSIP researchers in cooperation with the Boyce Thompson Institution for Plant Research (BTT) have shown that roundworms can live up to 20% longer when bathed in their own secretions – which make the slippery, tiny worms more resistant to different types of stress.
By signaling pathways that are evolutionally conserved, chemicals called ascarosides trigger stress-resistance mechanisms that ultimately slow aging. Interestingly enough, ascaroside-promoted longevity appears to require a protein called sirtuin – a factor already known to be important for the biology of human aging and stress and is suggested to be activated by red wine and red grapes. The worm-made ascarosides seem to increase lifespan by a similar mechanism, but that is roughly 1000 times more effective than the grabe derived sirtuin reservatols.
OSU Extension Entomologists have found a relatively new pest to Ohio field crops that has the potential to cause significant economic losses for growers — Northern Ohio corn growers who’ve experienced unexplained stand loss for the past couple of years may have fields that are infested with Asiatic garden beetle grubs.
What’s surprising about this is that the grub, which is a species that is more associated with being a minor pest in turf, now appears to be much more damaging to crops than most other grubs. The grubs were recently associated as a newer corn pest in northeast Indiana and southwest Michigan from 2006 to 2008, always in sandier soils following soybeans – conditions that some fields in Ohio do meet. These grubs have the pestering (pun intended) feature that there isn’t really much that can be done to mitigate them once they’ve begun feeding in the soil and causing stand reductions. Growers can use a preventive treatment of liquid or granule soil insecticides labeled for grub control in their fields, but OSU experts suggest that growers leave untreated strips to see what insecticide applications work best for their fields when applying insecticides (due to the lack of data on the pest).
Spring has sprung! The Michigan State University (MSU) Horticulture Club’s annual spring show and plant sale is slated for April 20-21 at the Plant and Soil Sciences Building (at the corner of Bogue and Wilson avenues on campus).
This year’s show, entitled “Sensory Overload,” will take place from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. April 20 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 21.
The funds raised at the plant sale will allow students to participate in numerous community service projects, including a student-designed sensory garden installed and maintained at the Heartwood School in Mason, Mich.
For the second consecutive year, the club has sent several volunteers to plant trees with the Greening of Detroit project, which is replacing trees lost to Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer along Detroit’s residential roadsides.
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. Cool-season vegetables let the well-organized gardener enjoy harvest bounty in the spring and again in the fall. These early-season vegetables can tolerate light frost, so they’re a perfect addition to your spring garden. As with all things gardening, everything starts with the soil. “Be patient and wait until the soil is ready to be worked,” said Jennifer Schutter, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension. “The soil is ready when a handful of soil crumbles when gently pressed.”
This is the time when you add nutrients and amendments to the soil. Schutter said phosphorus is important because cool soils tend to limit the availability of the mineral to early-planted vegetables.
Perennial cool-season vegetables-Plant perennial cool-season vegetables at the edge of the garden because they’re going to be there for some time. Schutter said rhubarb and asparagus are two of the most commonly planted cool-season perennial vegetables.
Annual cool-season root vegetables-This group includes radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas and parsnips. Schutter said they require well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
Annual leafy cool-season vegetables-This group includes broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, mustard greens, collards, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts. While these can be planted by direct seeding, Schutter recommends using transplants.
NCSU CALS asst. professor Dilip Panthee is taking the reins of a tomato breeding program that’s developed the cultivars for 60-75% of the vine ripe tomatoes grown in the Eastern United States. As a part of the nation’s largest university plant breeding program, his research develops hardier, higher yielding plants for North Carolina’s $30-million-a-year tomato industry.
Panthee uses MAS breeding methods – which are especially helpful when it comes to developing disease-resistant varieties using DNA-based markers, a shift away from genetic engineering. He expects to begin releasing disease-resistant cultivars within the next two or three years.
Already, in collaboration with Gardner, Panthee has helped develop Mountain Merit, a high-yielding, fresh-market cultivar with resistance to late blight, tomato spotted wilt virus and root-knot nematodes, and Mountain Majesty, a large-fruited tomato with improved fruit color and resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus.
Agricultural leaders and economists will discuss the new Farm Bill and its impacts on agriculture in the West at an all-day conference on May 14 at the UC Davis Conference Center. Karen Ross, secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture and former U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture chief of staff, and Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, will share their insights on what the Farm Bill is likely to mean for agriculture in the western states. “The Farm Bill affects every California commodity,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and conference coordinator. “Growers, lenders, agribusiness executives, policy advisors, agricultural leaders, university professionals, students and everyone who values comprehensive and objective information about the upcoming Farm Bill and U.S. farm policy are invited to participate in the conversation.”
Some of the Specific sessions include:
“The Farm Bill: What it Does and What it Means.” Joseph Glauber, USDA chief economist, will explain what the Farm Bill does. Now working on his fifth Farm Bill, Glauber is one of the most objective and knowledgeable experts on U.S. agricultural policy. “The Expanding Role of Risk Management and Crop Insurance Policy” led by Hyunok Lee, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, with participation from growers and risk management experts.
A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world. The U.S. Department of Energy says that hydrogen fuel has the potential to dramatically reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and automobile manufacturers are aggressively trying to develop vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells. Unlike gas-powered engines that spew out pollutants, the only byproduct of hydrogen fuel is water. Virginia Tech’s discovery opens the door to an inexpensive, renewable source of hydrogen that utilizes renewable natural resources, releases almost no greenhouse gasses, and does not require costly or heavy metals. Previous methods to produce hydrogen are expensive and create greenhouse gases.
University of California Davis are collecting temperature inversion data at different locations in 60 coastal vineyards throughout three counties to document inversions during frost events to protect from devastating spring freezes that cause tender shoots and leaves to burn back, causing damage that reduces the crop yield when it is harvested many months later.
Farmers take various measures to protect their crops when temperatures dip below freezing, such as mowing or tilling the vineyard row middles, or running sprinklers with water pumped from underground aquifers or diverted from streams – and UC scientists are now gathering data to help inform farmers before making the costly investment.
Extension engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are uncovering the benefits of continuous no-till and residue management for production. They argue that residue and growing vegetation serves as protection to surface soil from erosion and absorbs the energy of rain impact, reducing soil particle detachment. This farming technique is beneficial to irrigation practices because it improves infiltration by reducing evaporation. With a cool moist surface, root development improves and strengthens production.
A new N.C. State University study under way at the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus is focused on enhancing levels of lutein in broccoli. Lutein, an antioxidant, is associated with lowering risks for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (which affects 10% of people aged 66-74. 30% in people aged 75-85) and is also found in leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Dr. Allen Brown of the Dept. of Horticultural Science at NCSU will use conventional plant breeding methods and believes he can produce broccoli that is even more of a superfood than is now the case, with enhanced levels of compounds that fight cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration.
To support the rising popularity of home canning and other food preservation methods in American households, The University of Georgia Extension program is offering valuable tips and resources to make the process safe and successful. With support from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, UGA Extension provides a source of current research-based recommendations which aims to reduce risk from foodborne illness and spoilage. Many participants hold on to traditional methods of food storage but UGA Extension points out the necessity to apply science-based recommendations in order to defend against modern day threats. Adhering to health precautions will act to further the presence of locally grown foods and artisan interests in today’s consumer food world.
The Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to support rural communities. The program, Stronger Economies Together (SET), provides training, in-depth regional socio-economic data and technical assistance to help provincial communities implement economic growth strategies. SET works on the premise that isolation from nearby counties is ineffective and pushes for cooperation to build on assets and economic strengths.
Experts from Mississippi State University have developed a new program to aid Delta producers with row crop irrigation in more efficient and economical ways. These researchers are working with producers to reduce irrigation water use and maintain or improve crop yields and overall profitability. The RISER program seeks to promote good water management practices by implementing scientific irrigation scheduling tools to reduce unnecessary expenditure.
Cornell scientists’ discovery of a previously unknown function of a family of enzymes could increase scientists’ understanding of the body’s immune response and help treat diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Cancer. The Sir2 family of enzymes has been extensively studied for its role in aging; and it has recently been found to release TNF, a molecule that in abundance is associated with the development of Rheumatoid arthritis but also with the promotion of cancer cell death. Manipulation of these enzymes can control how much TNF is released, and could be used in therapies to treat diseases like cancer.
The Ohio State University Fruit and Vegetable Safety Program is hosting three new workshops on the topic of good agricultural practices, or GAPs, for produce growers. Lessons at these seminars will teach ways to reduce the risk of food-borne illness from fresh produce. Discussions will relate to soil safety, water safety, worker training, worker hygiene, recordkeeping, traceability, good handling practices and standard operating procedures.
Going along with the initiatives towards alternative fuels, engineers at Kansas State University have developed a method by which to utilize waste products of biofuels to strengthen concrete. Another positive from recycling this debris is the smaller carbon footprint left behind. Concrete is one of the world’s most-used industrial materials, providing an urgency and opportunity to make it greener. Waste products of agriculture such as corn stover, wheat straw, and rice straw are being applied to replace Portland cement.
Researchers from North Carolina State University believe they have solved a puzzle that has vexed science since plants first appeared on Earth. They have provided the first three-dimensional model of an enzyme that links a simple sugar, glucose, into long-chain cellulose, the basic building block within plant cell walls that gives plants structure and nature’s most abundant renewable biomaterial; an important resource for production of biofuels that represent alternatives to fossil fuels. New understanding of the structure of the modeled plant enzyme, a cellulose synthase, may allow researchers to genetically engineer plants and trees for better cotton fibers or stronger wood, for example. From a materials engineering perspective, the findings can also be used to create beneficial nanocrystals with desired properties and functions.
Purdue professors of food science have found that exposing packaged liquids, fruits and vegetables to an electrical field for just minutes might eliminate all traces of foodborne pathogens on those foods, according to a Purdue University study. The methods they use apply electricity to generate a plasma, or ionized gas, from atmospheric gases inside the food package – one of the newest ways to kill harmful bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella, that contaminate foods and cause serious illnesses and deaths. Adapting the technology for liquids could allow development of portable devices to clean drinking water in areas with contamination or that lack other purification methods. It could also allow food processors to bottle juices without first heating them, a process widely used to kill bacteria that can alter products.
Smartphone technology is far exceeding social networking and entertainment value. An increasing number of applications are taking advantage of this applied science to help farmers do their jobs. Producers can utilize these apps for everything from staying up to date on agriculture news to diagnostic information on equipment. Having this tool in the work field is making farm-work more efficient and effective.
There has beet significant progress made on a project to develop a new industrial crop of energy beets in North Dakota. These sugar beets are bred for biofuel and industrial purposes. Scientific demonstrations and trial plots are displaying a high yield of production for these beets in various soil types and conditions. Along with tolerating dryer soils, energy beets also have the potential to help farmers by improving soil health because the tap root penetrates further into the ground, utilizing nutrients, nitrogen and water that most other crops can’t reach. The project is a cooperative effort between Fargo-based Green Vision Group (GVG) and Iowa-based Heartland Renewable Energy.
A research team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been working on a project to identify the best methods by which to feed a growing global population. The developments focus on yield potential as a foundation by which to base results. The team is developing the Global Yield Gap Atlas, a tool to estimate food production capacity and the gap between present and potential farm yields on every hectare of existing farmland using the best available science and data. The project is calling upon agronomists worldwide to identify key agricultural areas and collect data about local conditions and farming methods.
Tumultuous weather conditions have Iowa residents on alerts. With much of the state in moderate to extreme drought conditions, this week southeast Iowa received more than six inches of rain and flash flooding. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programs are assisting those preparing and recovering from both natural disasters by making information more accessible to the public. These disaster preparedness and response resources will help producers in rural areas defend against nature’s fury.
As reported by Dr. Godfrey, the Blue Alfalfa Aphid has been reported at high levels. Entomologists with UCCE continue to monitor the situation with Pest Control Advisors and IPM Professionals. Here is a summary of observations in the San Joaquin Valley in past two weeks.
Extent of Outbreaks
While populations are widely noted, the heaviest densities have been very localized. In the Buttonwillow area of Kern County, populations exceed the threshold of 40-50 aphids per stem for hay prior to cutting. There are reports of alfalfa being damaged by the feeding in this area
Some PCAs have treated the outbreak using carbamates and organophosphates while others are waiting it out. Natural enemy populations have been lower than normal in the Kern County outbreak area, especially the presence of ladybird beetles, even before alfalfa weevil treatments commenced. Aphids infected with fungal disease have been noted but epizootic development has been slow, even with warm and moist conditions prevailing. Ladybird populations been on the increase in some fields and the situation seems to be turning the corner for the better.
The outbreak has been reported to be expanding outside the original infested area in Kern County with outbreaks noted in the Wasco area. Outbreaks have also been recently reported in Merced County in the Dos Palos area, about 2 weeks later than Kern County. PCAs report second year alfalfa with damage symptoms similar to those caused by Blue Alfalfa Aphid; slow growth, twisted or deformed growing tips and in some cases, yellowing.
UVALDE – How do you track dama gazelles across more than 20,000 acres of Texas range to gather insights to help ensure their survival here and in their native Africa?
To answer that question, Dr. Elizabeth Cary Mungall, science officer for the Second Ark Foundation and adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University, contacted Dr. Susan Cooper, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research wildlife scientist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde.
Last year, Cooper was asked by the foundation to provide her technical expertise, gained from tracking white-tailed deer in South Central Texas, to help track the movements of dama gazelle bucks roaming the Stevens Forest Ranch in West Texas.
“Here at the center, we have been using GPS tracking collars on white-tailed deer to conduct research on how their use of habitat changes in response to different land management practices, as well as their interaction with other animals, which is relevant in potential disease transfer,” Cooper said. “We’ve fitted GPS collars on more than 100 animals for investigation purposes, including deer, cattle, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes and feral hogs.”
She explained that the collars have a GPS unit built into the top and a battery box on the bottom, along with an antenna built into one side of the collar. On the other side there is a built-in timed drop-off unit that releases the collar automatically after a set time.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Art and science aren’t always birds of a feather, but a new University of Florida project has them flocking together.
Students from UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences recently worked with UF’s Harn Museum of Art to identify Brazilian birds and plants illustrated by famed naturalist painter Jean-Theodore Descourtilz.
A website detailing their work was launched earlier this year. It can be found here: http://descourtilz.wordpress.com/.
“The museum needed to know the names of the birds and plants depicted, whether they were accurately rendered, and if they were biologically realistic,” said Emilio Bruna, an associate professor in UF’s Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.
Bruna and John Blake, a professor in the department, co-taught the graduate-level class that led the project. Both are members of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Students in the class, An Introduction to Tropical Ecology and Conservation, examined five prints – each portraying three to five birds and a plant species upon which the birds are perched. And while some of the birds were labeled by Descourtilz, none of the plants had identification.
The students were asked to accurately classify the birds and plants using modern taxonomic nomenclature and to prepare a report that outlined what the birds eat, where they live and in which part of the tropical forest canopy they reside.
Georgian vegetable farmers have relied heavily on the soil fumigant methyl bromide to control weeds, insects and nematodes in the past. Recent changes in environmental regulations have created urgency for a replacement to the potentially ozone-damaging pesticide. Research teams are heavy at work on alternatives with studies regarding four systems to replace the pesticide that use plasticulutre – a planting technique used in commercial vegetable production where black plastic is stretched over planting rows to reduce water loss and block weeds.
A research team at Kansas State University has been awarded $5.5 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to aid in the development of novel disease control strategies for two closely-related diseases in rice and wheat. These initiatives seek to defend U.S. wheat fields from the deadly disease known as wheat blast as well as from the deadly rice blast disease already established in the U.S. and other rice-growing countries. The scientists hope to utilize traditional strategies for finding and deploying resistance genes, as well as novel techniques based on new knowledge generated by research on rice blast. These studies have displayed global food security implications.
Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has become the first graduate program at the University to achieve affiliation in the National Professional Science Master’s Association for its professional degree in Plant Health Management (MPHM). This degree is a joint effort of the departments of plant pathology and entomology. The divisions aim to provide hands-on training that includes both technical and professional aspects of plant health management to meet the increasing demand for qualified individuals in the field. The program focuses on preparation for the professional world, therefore targeting individuals who are going into the industry rather than those in pursuit of a research path.
If you plan on deworming cattle, spring is the right time. Parasite burdens in pastures peak during the spring, drop over the summer, and rise again in the fall. Internal parasites cause subclinical effects that are then followed by clinical signs. Subclinical effects show up as productions losses. The animals don’t look sick but they experience reduced gain, decreased milk production, lowered conception rates, etc. Clinical effects can be seen and include rough coats, anemia, and edema. Subclinical effects have major economic impacts, so it’s important to deworm cattle before you see the physical signs.
How often you deworm depends on the type of cattle you have and how much of a parasite load they are exposed to. Mature cows usually only need to be dewormed once a year. They should be treated shortly before calving. Calving is a stressful time in a cow’s life and it can lead to suppressed immune function which makes her more susceptible to parasites. Treating twice a year may be needed if you have a large parasite load. Bulls are naturally more susceptible to parasites so they should be treated in the spring and fall. Calves require more frequent deworming. Treatment should start at 3 to 4 months of age and be given again at weaning. Depending on your farm’s parasite levels, deworming every 3 to 4 months until they reach 1 year may be necessary. Yearlings can be dewormed in the spring and fall until they reach maturity. Heifers aren’t technically considered mature until they are pregnant with their second calf.
The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center has maintained a small study skin museum for decades, gradually adding specimens to the collection. Recent specimens (last 25 years or so) are all “salvage” specimens of birds or mammals that have met their demise as a result of a vehicle collision, window collision, power-line collision, or other freak accident.
In the old days all of the study skin specimens were “taxidermied” by hand, removing the main body of meat and bones, and filling the void with a false body of styrofoam or wood excelsior. However, there is another museum technique that preserves specimens by simply removing all of the moisture from the body. This method is called Freeze-drying, and here you see a re-furbished museum freeze-drier that is now operable in the new Rod Shippey Hall museum room. (You can see the moisture frozen in the lower chamber which is -50 C.)
Another item on our Rod Shippey Hall “wish list” is a new set of museum storage cabinets to house these specimens properly, and protect them from being damaged or destroyed by insects.
Cornell Researchers have developed new mild onions that will have chefs crying – tears of joy. Scientists say it will only be a matter of years until these onions are available to the public. Twelve years in the making, these onions are said to have the bite initial aroma and flavor of a mild onion, but they have a lot less water – resulting in them having a longer shelf life, staying crisper when cooked in soup or chili. Experts at Cornell claim that by increasing the sugar content in onions (making them “high brix”) the onions will caramelize when cooked and last longer than those with less sugar content (low brix).
A study at Kansas State University is providing insight into how humans have shaped genetic diversity in wheat. A plant pathologist is leading an international team of researchers in an investigation to compare the genetic coding of ancient wheat varieties to that of modern varieties. The goal of the initiative is to determine a method for improving wheat for different growing conditions throughout the world. The team has identified selection targets associated with wheat improvement including regions containing genes involved in the regulation of flowering time, development and resistance to a fungal disease.
Researchers at the University of Florida have released an article discussing a species of mushrooms commonly found in grassy areas throughout the Eastern U.S. and California – The False Parasol. Though poisoning cases are rare, the false parasol causes intense gastrointestinal distress in people and may be deadly to dogs and horses. Puppies and adult dogs that like to chew are especially at risk for ingesting the fungus. False parasols are responsible for more human poisonings than any other U.S. mushroom species, but they are seldom cited in animal poisonings, said Michael Beug, a professor emeritus with The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and a noted mushroom expert.
Many growers are taking serious consideration towards the production of a new industrial crop called energy beets. These sugar beets are bred to be used in the biofuel market and towards industrial purposes. North Dakota University’s Extension service is reminding growers to be mindful of what herbicides they use on this year’s growing season. The warning refers to the damage that may be incurred by several common herbicides once farmers decide to grow the bio-beet.
Ohio State University is providing a great opportunity for growers to learn how to improve soil health and increase crop yields. By introducing multi-functional cover crops, farmers can reduce input costs while improving water consumption, reducing soil erosion and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The hands-on workshop is suited for both beginning and veteran farmers and will offer strategies and tips for growers on everything they’ll need to know about using cover crops and the soil, water and air quality benefits that it provides.
Researchers at Oregon State University have added flaxseed to livestock and poultry feed to make meat and dairy products more wholesome. What resulted was a decrease in unhealthy saturated fats and increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to heart health. The impact of this discovery could mean good things for farmers who adapt the practice to yield a more premium product for a greater value.
Planting is the most important activity for any farmer. As farmers sow their seeds between this year’s spring rains, CAFNR Professor Peter Scharf wants them to consider just how critical their soil is — not just for this year’s harvest, but for sustaining harvests for future generations of farmers. In 150 years of farming in northern Missouri, nearly half of the topsoil has eroded. Recent tillage and conservation practices have slowed the erosion rate, but more needs to be done. Scharf recommends two critical practices to help limit erosion: manage residue to keep as much protection on the soil as possible, and plant cover crops.
Iowa State University Extension entomology specialist Laura Jesse says that homeowners should take precaution when using insecticides this summer in order to minimize negative effects on honeybee populations. A U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency report released recently outlined several possible causes of national decline in honeybees, including habitat loss, poor diet, diseases, parasites and pesticide exposure. Research points to a combination of these factors that may be responsible for the 30 percent decline in honeybees annually since 2006. The ISU Integrated Pest Management website offers tips to help people make smart choices about insecticide use to reduce pest problems without further contributing to honeybee population decline.
With an increasing world population, the need to produce safe and nutritious food has never been of greater concern. To add further strain to the issue is the limited funding available for vital agricultural research. The University of California, a land-grant university, is making strides to alleviate this obstacle by conducting critical food, agricultural and natural-resources research as well as public outreach initiatives. The results of such studies have spurred economic innovation, especially in agriculture that could lead to a solution towards a healthy food supply for the planet.
Alabama Cooperative Extension is hard at work in transitioning farming into the 21st century. The challenge of managing, analyzing and applying electronic data is daunting to producers who are versed in traditional cultivation management methods. By updating these techniques, Alabama’s Extension program understands the potential and value for efficiency and effectiveness for the farming world. The growers of today can no longer have singular focus on individual tasks and must anticipate how immediate decisions will affect future aspects of operations.
Tomato yellow leaf curl virus has been a chronic threat to tomato production in South Georgia for more than a decade, and the problem is only getting worse. Severe cases of this virus have increased in recent years, especially in the fall when whitefly pressure is high. Tomato yellow curl virus, which is transmitted by whiteflies, can cause very high yield losses and reduce the crop’s marketability. In some cases, the entire crop can be lost. UGA CAES continues to work towards helping farmers select resistant varieties and manage their risks.
UGA Cooperative Extension expert Frank M. Watson offers tips to help gardeners and food producers fend off damage from invasive Japanese beetles. According to Watson, applying pesticides quickly, properly, and thoroughly is essential in order to have a chance at fighting off these pests. He also warns against using Japanese beetle traps, as these can actually attract more beetles than were there in the first place.
A recent University of Kentucky College of Agriculture survey shows that their Integrated Pest Management Program is helping the agriculture industry save crops and money by providing useful information about agriculture pests. As part of the program, specialists with the University of Kentucky have trapped the moths of Kentucky’s major agricultural pests to give producers an early warning about potential outbreaks.
They then held an online survey to gauge the value of the early warning system. The respondents said UK’s early warning system protected more than $1.6 million in crop yields and saved producers more than $270,000 in unnecessary pesticide applications.
Additionally, 12 percent of responders reported they did not receive the early warning and lost at least $18,000 in crops due to fall armyworm damage, for they did not scout for the pest or make a timely insecticide application.
Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains contain a valuable resource that could help fight cancer. Valtcho Jeliazkov, director of the University of Wyoming’s Sheridan Research and Extension Center, found that accessions (members of a plant collection in a particular location) of Rocky Mountain juniper and creeping junipers contain relatively high concentrations of podophyllotoxin (PPT), a chemical used to facilitate production of the anti-cancer drugs etoposide, etopophos and teniposide. According to the scientist, those drugs are used to treat lung and testicular cancer, neuroblastoma, hepatoma and other tumors. Other derivatives of PPT are used to treat psoriasis and malaria and are being tested as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
Cornell animal science professors have developed a genomics technique to measure traits in cattle, such as high meat or milk quality, disease resistance and heat tolerance. This can be done by sorting through thousands of gene variants in the genome to identify the best animals. The team used genotyping-by-sequencing to identify over 50,000 genetic markers for genetic profiling from six U.S. and Nigerian cattle breeds. This new technology can reduce the cost of individual genetic profiles by 50%-100% each.
Janna Beckerman, a Purdue extension specialist, warns home gardeners to be aware of a disease “well-established in the Midwest” that is inflicting the popular annual Impatien plant. Downy mildew is a disease that causes stunted plant growth and wilted or leafless stems. Beckerman advises gardeners to expand their plant horizon to include some of the thousands of additional flower varietals because “a healthy landscape and a healthy ecosystem require diversity.”
On Friday, June 7, from 6 – 11 a.m. the ISU Dairy will be hosting its fifth annual open house at the ISU Dairy Farm, located south of Ames, Iowa.Visitors will be able to learn about the different commodities in the Ag Discovery Center, while sampling free dairy products. The open house includes demonstrations on current technologies and best practices in animal care and comfort, product quality and safety, and environmental stewardship. The ISU Dairy Farm had 394 milking cows, 438 total cows and a youngstock of 314 at the end of April. Each cow produces around 78.5 pounds of milk per day, with a protein percentage of 3.1 percent and a fat content of 3.9 percent. The objectives of the current dairy farm facilities, which opened in 2007, is to provide teaching, research and outreach opportunities.
Missouri’s black walnut trees could be in trouble if thousand cankers disease (TCD) moves in from bordering Tennessee. According to estimates from the Missouri Department of Conservation, TCD could cost the state more than $850 million over a 20-year period due to losses in the wood products industry and nut production, as well as costs associated with removing and replacing urban trees. Over the last decade, TCD has caused the widespread death of walnut trees in the western United States. Since 2010, TCD has been found to be spreading from several locations east of the Rockies: eastern Tennessee; Bucks County, Pa.; Richmond, Va.; and the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
OSU extension specialists have been warning wheat croppers to keep their eyes open for any kind of disease, mainly scabs due to the forecast of rainfall and drastic temperature changes in the coming days. At this point, much of Ohio’s wheat is in good shape and likely to continue flowering during the last week of May, which is the critical stage when people are concerned about disease development, say OSU research specialists. Frequent rainfall always puts the crop at risk for head scab development and vomitoxin contamination of the grain, but these will only become a concern if it continues to rain during flowering and temperatures increase.
An OSU researcher has identified a potentially critical cause for the growth in antibiotic-resistance of animals: the widespread use of oral antibiotics. Taking antibiotics orally exposes bacteria in the digestive system to those medicines, and this exposure in itself could be a significant cause of the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria seen – as explained in their study Antibiotic Administration Routes Significantly Influence the Levels of Antibiotic Resistance in Gut Microbiota.” CFAES professor Wang and her team’s study presents the hypothesis that the reason for the growth in resistance to antibiotics could be that these drugs are being taken orally rather than in ways that don’t involve the digestive system – a trend that’s grown recently in the past 3 decades. This caters to the fact that Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance gene pools, which can further spread resistance, significantly increase when antibiotic residues and bacteria encounter each other in the digestive system.
An update to the Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) originally published in 1971 by Thomas Fenton and several colleagues at Iowa State University has stemmed from recent advances in soil science. The CSR is a system for rating the crop-growing productivity of Iowa soil and helps to increase productivity of Iowa’s 30 million acres of farmland and is the most modern and sophisticated quantitative soil productivity rating available.
“The goal of CSR2 is to provide a transparent system for calculating CSR such that a county assessor, farmer, realtor and any other interested person readily understands the mathematics underlying CSR,” said Iowa State agronomist Lee Burras.
Entomologists from the University of Georgia published a new study refocused the way scientists view the development of melanin in insects May 17 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, University of Georgia . For scientists who study insects, having a correct model of how an insect forms melanin is important for not only their research on insect structures, but also on how to control them. Programs currently taking place in other countries are looking at how to replace insect populations in the field with those modified to have fewer undesired traits. Researchers hope to modify insects to make them incapable of passing on human and animal diseases. For example, a mosquito that lacks the ability to transmit malaria could be a possibility in the future.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension Program has been working to help recycle agricultural plastic throughout New York State with Cornell’s Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project (RAPP). Through RAPP, farmers can bale the plastic and distribute it to new post-recycling markets. RAPP has even gathered information for farmers on how to prepare their plastics for these recycling markets. Since May of 2011, the program has collected more than 1 million pounds of agricultural plastics. In the past, many farmers paid haulers to cart their agricultural plastic to landfills, paying tipping fees of $70 per ton. Recycling their plastics through RAPP is saving farmers tons of money. RAPP can take 1,000 pounds of agricultural film plastic and turn into a four-foot cube that is ready to serve other commercial uses.
Researchers from Ohio State University have discovered a chemical that induced kidney failure in mosquitoes, something that could be extremely beneficial in creating new insecticides. The chemical interferes with mosquito potassium channels and the mosquito’s ability to excrete urine – a very important role in the mosquito lifestyle for they must urinate when eating to fill their bodies with as much blood as possible. The chemically disrupted mosquitoes were additionally bloated and less able to fly, further shortening their lifespan. With so many mosquitoes becoming resistant to old insecticides, this chemical will give new hope for creating new insecticides that will lower the spread of mosquito-carried diseases such as malaria and dengue.
For more than 100 years, a blight (disease) has been plaguing the American chestnut tree and has nearly wiped it out of North American forests. But there is hope coming from a joint effort between researchers at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation (PIC) and those at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) to breed a chestnut tree immune to the disease. Sandy Anagnostakis, of the CAES and who has been working as an agricultural scientist for 47 years, is working with Leila Pinchot of the PIC for the ultimate goal of “getting [the chestnut tree] back in the into the forest.”
The U.S. dairy industry is getting help from researchers at the University of Arkansas to reduce its carbon footprint after the dairy industry set a goal of a 25% gas emission reduction by 2020. The researchers are giving a “cradle-to-grave” life cycle analysis of milk, which will give the producers, processors, and other in the dairy supply chain the necessary guidance needed to reduce their environmental impact and maintain long-term viability. The team looked at all stages of milk production, from the fertilizer used to grow the animal’s feed to even waste disposal of packaging after consumer use. This led them to discover that for every kilogram of milk consumed in the U.S. per year, 2.05 kg of greenhouse gases, on average, are emitted over the entire supply chain to produce, process and distribute that dairy. Many areas of impact reduction were found within the industry, including feed and milk production, processing and distribution, retail and the supply chain. Their focus was on farms, where processes for feed production, handling of enteric methane and manure management varied greatly and thus represent the best opportunities for making significant reductions. Thanks to these efforts from the University of Arkansas research team and the dairy industry, the industry carbon footprint should decline.
Dr. Jeremy Pattison, strawberry breeder and geneticist with the N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute, has received a $158,391 grant from the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative. Pattison also is a co-investigator on a second grant with N.C. State. The grants will support work in transferring the latest research to strawberry growers in North and South Carolina and Virginia to maximize yields and profitability. The strawberry industry value in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia is about $48 million. Strawberries are the fifth most consumed fruit in the United States, and their popularity has increased by 51 percent the last 10 years.
The barber’s pole worm is a deadly intestinal parasite that contributes to the declining health of goats particularly in relation to the common agricultural practice of goat farming. Medicine that is improperly utilized to treat these parasitic growths led to an increased resistance of goats to parasites. However, natural food supplements have proven to significantly reduce the number of parasitic growths in goats. In particular, the use of the papaya seed has proven effective when it comes to eliminating these parasitic growths that threaten the health of goats. These papaya seed supplements could extend beyond goats and help protect cattle from parasites as well.
The University of Vermont Cooperative Extension has been working with farmers to promote Nutrient Management Planning (NMP) and have since prevented over 2000 tons of farming-related pollutants from being created. A team hired worked with 130 farms in 2012 to implement these conservation practices on 23,000 acres, preventing nearly 2,000 tons of soil and 54 tons of fertilizer from becoming pollutants.
University of Florida researchers have found that crop models predicting yields for one of the world’s most important crops disagree under different climate change scenarios. Crop models are used to foresee which parts of the world may face the greatest food shortages so that efforts to improve food production can be directed to those places.
Current research at Washington State University is having world-wide effects as scientists work to develop a strain of wheat that can better cope with hotter climates. With increasing signs of global warming, researchers at WSU have been working to develop hardier wheat as part of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future.
“The project will benefit all wheat growing regions of the world,” said project director Kulvinder Gill, “as heat during certain stages of the plant’s development is an issue in most wheat growing regions.”
Shrinking plants in the Great Basin of Nevada could be a result of a warming climate says Beth Leger, a University of Nevada, Reno plant ecologist. A paper that was based on Leger’s research was published in the prestigious science journal, Global Change Biology. It included Leger’s findings after she studied over 100 years of plant data and concluded that there is a trend of shrinking plant sizes in the last century.
Several factors contribute to why Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, is considered one of the most devastating diseases to citrus fruit worldwide. But the disease has found a formidable foe in an associate professor from the University of California who is studying it is working on identifying early warning signs in the fruit and fruit trees. Hailing Jin is an associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology and recently published a paper on her discoveries in the journal Molecular Plant.
A OSU is offering a workshop that will take place on June 28th and will help sheep and goat farmers learn to determine which animals to treat for a deadly internal parasite. The focus of this course will be on how to use the FAMACHA diagnostic system to identify which sheep and goats have been infected with barber’s pole worm. The benefit of learning this valuable information is that it will help producers save time and money and ultimately may prevent the death of the animal. The FAMACHA system involves matching the animal’s eyelid color to anemia levels. The workshop takes place June 28th from 6-9 p.m. at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station.
Forestry students across the Southeast as well as notable tree improvement specialists gathered together at the Clemson University Madren Center for the three day 32nd Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference this past week. The seminar was aimed towards the improvement of loblolly and slash pine production through advancements in tree genomics and biotechnology. Presentations at the event included increasing yields through genetic improvement, physiological and DNA marker approaches to species conservation and restoration, as well as utilizing genetics to improve longevity, quality and resistance. The conference also served as a networking opportunity for forest science students pursuing teaching and research posts in university, government and industry settings.
Graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources are working to make the Enns Museum collection of more than 7 million insect specimens available to the world through an online museum. The students are working to allow standardized and curated digital photos of the museum’s collection to become available to scientists, researchers, educators and the public.
According to LSU AgCenter cotton specialist and entomologist David Kerns, Louisiana is seeing has the lowest cotton acreage in recorded history, with the state’s farmers planting an estimated 125,000 acres this year. The downturn in acreage has led to the closing of cotton gins. “It boils down to economics and what the farmers can make the most money on, and cotton prices have been suppressed in recent years,” Kerns said
A University of Missouri soil scientist reports that the increased rainfall accumulating in the Midwest that occurred during spring has led to increased erosion. This damage could greatly impact crops later on during the year. Even average people who are not trained to detect such differences have reported that the change is noticeable. The rain has a washed away a considerable amount of sediment from fields. It has also delayed the planting of corn in the Midwest. Producers then had a very limited amount of time to plant corn. Since the corn will all be growing at the same time a dry spell could have devastating results for the agriculture in this area.
Due to overwhelming statistics that reveal that more than two-thirds of the region’s dairies have closed since 1995, a $3 million six-state effort is being funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to discover a solution to this problem. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will serve as the study’s lead institution, accompanied by other regional universities as well. “Although the nation is experiencing a surge in milk and dairy demand, the Southeast has experienced a greater than 37 percent decline in total milk production. Milk quality is also consistently the poorest of all the regions of the U.S.,” said Steve Oliver, assistant dean of UT AgResearch and professor of animal science. Participants of the study plan to target underperforming dairies with a four-pronged approach to enhance regional milk production and improve the quality of milk being produced.
Researchers from the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois have found that the Black Locust has showed a higher yield and faster harvest time than other woody plant species previously evaluated. This new finding will help researchers catalyze future experiments regarding the harnessing of biomass potential in woody plants.
Experts from Ohio State University, or OSU, are warning alfalfa growers to be on the lookout for a destructive pest known as the potato leafhopper. The potato leafhopper is the most harmful pest to alfalfa growers because it can cause significant yield loss and impact the plants’ nutritional value. Experts from OSU report that potato leafhoppers have already been found in Ohio, so they recommend that growers begin scouting for these pests once alfalfa reaches the proper height for sweep-net sampling. “Growers who take the time to sample and spray are better able to control the pests, while those growers who don’t tend to get hit by them,” said Ron Hammond, OSU entomologist.
According to a new report, building new meat processing plants won’t necessarily produce more local meat unless farmers and processors change how they do business with each other. Lauren Gwin, lead author and researcher at Oregon State University said, “Farmers say there aren’t enough processors, but how can processors stay open, let alone grow, without enough steady, consistent business to pay their bills?” Further, this report focused on the challenges and innovations facing the local meat processing industry and examined efforts around the country where various groups are working together to provide technical assistance to local processors and their farmer-customers. The USDA’s Economic Research Service published the findings this week under a cooperative agreement with Gwin and OSU.
Adult mole crickets emerge from the soil and begin to feed and mate as temperatures warm. During these periods of mating, populations in an area can increase significantly in a very short period of time. Mole crickets damage turf by feeding on plant roots, stems and leaves and tunnel through the soil. Their feeding is not considered as damaging as their tunneling, however, significant feeding injury does occur in pastures. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has found that homeowners can test their lawns for mole cricket using dish soap but it is best to apply insecticides as late in the day as possible because mole crickets are most active at night.
Clemson University plant pathologist Anthony Keinath advises all South Carolina growers of cucurbits, a family of plants that includes squashes, melons and gourds, to scout and spray after downy mildew infection was found June 18 on non-sprayed watermelon. “The rainy cloudy weather we’ve been having favors rapid outbreaks of downy mildew. Early detection is critical to controlling outbreaks,” said Keinath. Keinath advises all South Carolina farmers to immediately apply preventative fungicides and walk their fields twice per week to scout for the mildew.
Anaplasmosis is a dangerous disease that is caused when animals bite flies and other insects or when humans use unsterilized equipment on animals. At first the illness is undetectable, but when it sets in then the immune system of the animal destroys the bacteria as well as the blood cells that were infected. Animals older than 2 years of age are most likely to suffer severe results from the disease. The cattle that survive may then become carriers. Pesticide applications and sterilization of equipment can help to control the disease.
According to Virginia Tech scientists, mosquitoes reared in cooler temperatures have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to dangerous viruses and more likely to transmit them to people. “Our data offers a plausible hypothesis for how changes in weather influence the transmission of these diseases and will likely continue to do so in the future,” said researcher Kevin Myles, associate professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and an affiliate of the Fralin Life Science Institute.
Join the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program on July 11th in Clyde, NY for a soil health field day to learn about options for improving crop and soil performance through rainfall extremes. Several farmers in the New York State area are reexamining their crop rotations, cover crops and reduced tillage, in an effort to improve the health of their soil. Sustainable farming techniques will be presented at the soil health field day as well as various demonstrations to offer options for farmers. Registration for the field day will be held at 9:30 a.m. and costs $5.
Growers, crop consultants and other agriculture professionals in north Mississippi can learn about weed management and hybrid performance in corn, an overview of the new Enlist and Xtend cropping systems, crop irrigation practices, soil amendments and sweet potato production systems at the July 11 field day at the Pontotoc Station.
Research done at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has indicated that golf courses could provide a haven to help rebuild dwindling pollinator populations. In turn, the increased pollinator populations would help boost ecosystem health and benefit everyone. The research project, dubbed Operation Pollinator, works with five golf courses to plant native wildflowers that will attract more pollinators and monarch butterflies. The project, if successful, will help combat the decrease in pollinator populations due to habitat loss and urban development. If the mixtures of flowers used to attract these pollinators are successful, the information would be made to the public so that the mixtures could be planted in more areas.
Construction is underway on six hoop houses for the High Desert Farming Initiative, a University of Nevada, Reno farming demonstration project. The business-oriented collaborative will provide applied research and demonstration in hoop-house, greenhouse and organic farming in high desert climates for local growers and the agriculture industry, as well as assessment of various options to support economic development – primarily to support agriculture. Educational opportunities are also available to students interested in agriculture and business.
Large numbers of immature grasshoppers have been spotted in Utah this summer. According to Utah State University Extension entomologist, Diane Alston, the best time to control grasshoppers is when they are young, before they have wings and can fly away from insecticide treatments. For best results, large tracts of land have to be treated and this can be achieved through neighborhood or local farming/ranching community efforts.
The Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach program is inviting farm tenants and land owners to join them during the months of July and August for informative farmland leasing meetings. The purpose of these 3-hour workshops is to assist land owners, tenants and other agri-business professionals with current issues related to farmland ownership, management and leasing agreements. Each participant that attends the workshop will receive a set of beneficial materials related to farm leasing agreements and farmland ownership. “Knowing the latest information and where to find the best resources will make decisions easier,” said Ann Johanns, program specialist with extension farm management.
In a new study published in the Journal of Animal Science, Oregon State University researchers show that maximum selenium levels permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be too low for sheep to reach optimum growth and health. According to new research at OSU, sheep given supplements of organic selenium above United States government recommendations showed improved growth, weight and immunity. Selenium is essential for cellular function in animals and aids development. Large selenium doses can be toxic, but too-low levels can impair growth and compromise the immune system. “Our research shows higher levels of selenium can result in healthier animals that grow bigger and that can improve returns at the marketplace for farmers and ranchers, said Gerd Bobe, co-author of the study and an OSU professor.”
The University of Georgia and Bainbridge State College have signed three Memorandums of Understanding that will allow students who graduate from BSC to automatically gain acceptance into a bachelor’s degree program in agriculture at the UGA campus in Tifton. Since agriculture plays an imperative role in the region’s economy, this new partnership ensures that students from the region who want to work in this field will have the opportunity to complete the training they need. “Tifton is in the heart of the state’s agricultural area,” said Scott Angle, dean and director of the UGA CAES. “Their educators are world-class scientists who will provide great benefit to the students in this program,” he said.
According to an annual QS World University Rankings study, Penn State’s agricultural and forestry programs land in the top 10 worldwide. 2,858 universities were evaluated worldwide through four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and H-index citations. Penn State was one of seven Big Ten universities ranked in the top 30 in agriculture and forestry.
A new “subsurfer” fertilizer injector that will be available for viewing at Ohio State University in August will allow farmers to utilize valuable solid manure and also decrease soil erosion and run-off. The technology will allow crop growers to benefit from the use of poultry litter, which is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and has been shown to increase yields without increasing the potential for negative environmental impact.
Kentucky producers planted their crops a full month later than usual, but the crops are faring very well considering the circumstances. 82% of the crop was rated as either good or excellent as of July 1st. The crop bounced back thanks to warmer, drier weather that enabled the root systems to develop. Recent rainfall has also helped the crops to grow. Deficiency symptoms that had occurred earlier in the season have disappeared. Kentucky producers planted nearly 100% of their intended corn acreage.
As forecasts for harmful algal bloom increase for the western Lake Erie area, experts from the OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences continue to work with farmers statewide to lessen the potential for farmland runoff. Growers fear the loss of nutrients because of compromised water quality. The blooms, which are harmful to wildlife and humans, occur when phosphorus levels are high within the lake.
Botanica Caroliniana, a project taken on by a team of researchers from Clemson and Furman University, gives botanists anywhere in the world a more complete picture of the ecological history of the Carolinas and Georgia. This project makes original plant specimens collected in the Carolinas centuries ago by seminal naturalists, available to the public through an online database of high-resolution images. Before Botanica Caroliniana, the only way to study these specimens was to travel to London. “Through Botanica Caroliniana, researchers can now view in detail the original specimens without traveling to London, and use this primary source material to do taxonomic work these naturalists did not have the resources to do themselves at the time,” said Amy Blackwell, a research associate at the South Carolina Botanical Garden.
Not many biologists can say their work helped them in working in a big-budget, star-studded movie like the newly-released World War Z, starring Brad Pitt. But Agricultural Sciences researcher David Hughes of Penn State University did exactly that. As a scientific consultant, Hughes advised the producers of the movie on what a global zombie apocalypse might actually look like.
“They wanted to know, given that the zombies in the movie are all infected by a virus and that viruses evolve, what might you expect then?” he said.
Latitude 36 is a special type of bermudagrass that was developed at Oklahoma State University. Oklahoma State University Extension is reporting that the appearance of bermudagrass is becoming quite common on NFL practice and stadium fields. It is both tolerant to the cold as well as finely textured. The latest place bermudagrass has appeared was the field of the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
A researcher from New Mexico State University, has received an $861,269 National Science Foundation grant to conduct transcriptome sequencing of the “miracle tree,” a plant found in the tropics that holds great potential for sustainable agriculture. These miracle trees are known as nitrogen-fixing trees that provide protein rich leaves for use in animal feed, green manure used as nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and rapidly renewable woody biomass for construction, fuel wood and biofuels.
A Clemson University Extension agent who specializes in fruit and vegetable crops predicts there will be an abundance of higher-quality peaches this summer. South Carolina is recognized as the nation’s second-largest peach-producing state, and the peach is the most widely produced fruit and generates the most revenue for the state. Clemson Extension agent Andy Rollins said, “We’re not having a full crop on some of the early varieties because of the cool, wet weather this spring; but the fruit that was damaged dropped off before the second swell, and what ripened was beautiful.” Rollins also said the quality of the peaches this year is superb and South Carolina’s peach harvest will continue through August or early September.
As New Mexico continues to struggle through extreme drought conditions, New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service offers a wide variety of educational publications to help New Mexicans face drought-issues. A new website, www.aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_drought/, provides easy access to the listing of these publications.
Topics of these publications range from agronomy to livestock and rangeland management to home gardening and landscaping. Subjects range from agronomic principles to help with farming during drought periods and drip irrigation for row crops; from various weed poisoning of livestock and horses to using byproduct food stuffs in grazing nutrition; and from landscape water conservation to how to build low-pressure drip irrigation system.
Kansas State University is holding its 2013 Beef Conference—Strategic Cow Herd Management: Surviving and Rebuilding after Persistent Drought on August 6th at 8:30 in Frick Auditorium of Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan. If you cannot attend the conference, it is going to be broadcast to Oakley, Pratt and Parsons. To attend in person the fee is $60 per person or $100 for 2 or more people from the same operation. The early registration deadline is July 30th.
Dr. Craig Coufal, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service poultry specialist in College Station, has come up with an egg-sanitizing machine that could save the poultry industry millions. The problem today is that around 1% of the eggs produced by the poultry industry is lost to bacterial infection. One percent may not seem like much, but when there are over 9 billion eggs trying to hatch, one percent is around 90 million unnecessary losses. Eggs today go through a process of cleaning that breaks down the cuticle surrounding the egg. The cuticle is a natural barrier the egg has against bacterial infection, and the premature loss of this defense is to blame for most of the lost eggs. What Coufal has come up with is a machine that uses hydrogen peroxide and germicidal UV light on the eggs. The UV light reacts with the hydrogen peroxide to create hydroxide ions, which kill bacteria and leave no toxic chemicals to be disposed of. The eggs harbor no bacteria, and are otherwise unchanged. If successfully integrated into commercial use, this machine could save the industry millions of dollars.
With fewer than a dozen flowering plants accounting for 80 percent of humanity’s caloric intake out of 300,000 species, people need to tap unused plants to feed the world in the near future, claims Cornell plant geneticist Susan McCouch in the Comment feature of the July 4 issue of Nature. The biodiversity stored in plant gene banks coupled with advances in genetics and plant breeding may hold the keys for meeting the demands of more food in face of climate change, soil degradation and water and land shortages. “Gene banks hold hundreds of thousands of seeds and tissue culture materials collected from farmers’ fields and from wild, ancestral populations, providing the raw material that plant breeders need to create crops of the future. Seeds are readily accessible in 1,700 gene banks throughout the world, they are not used to their full potential in plant breeding”, McCouch said.
Tailwater recovery systems are used to capture surface runoff, making irrigation more efficient and more cost effective. This provides for significant water quality and water quantity improvements to the environment. Learn more by watching this great video from Mississippi State University.
After a recent University of Illinois study showed that injection of the soy peptide lunasin dramatically reduced colon cancer metastasis in mice, the researchers were eager to see how making lunasin part of the animals’ daily diet would affect the spread of the disease. “In this new study, we find that giving lunasin orally at 20 mg/kg of body weight reduced the number of metastatic tumors by 94 percent – we went from 18 tumors to only one. And that was done using lunasin alone; no other type of therapy was used,” said Elvira de Mejia, a University of Illnois professor of food chemistry and food toxicology.
After the discovery of large deposits of shale in eastern Ohio, researchers at Ohio State University believed a housing shortage was in the cards for areas near shale deposits. But after a recent report analyzing the effects of shale development on housing in Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2011, which were the first four years of the boom period, they found that counties experiencing the most shale-related development saw little change in fair market rents. The report found that, among many reasons, housing shortages were not a problem because of the increase of hotels being built, providing temporary housing to workers, as well as a lower positive economic impact of the shale development than was expected.
In addition to nitrogen and sulfur, soil fertility specialists found that the early-to-midseason application of nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium can boost crops that are being weighed down by wet conditions. Clain Jones, Extension soil fertility specialist in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University said, “If soil nutrients are marginal and root growth is slow due to cold or very wet conditions, then roots might not come into contact with a sufficient amount of nutrients.” Specialists found the application of nutrients to plant leaves is most beneficial if applied when there is enough leaf area to catch the liquid fertilizer.
Oregon State University aims to test new technologies for measuring the toxicity of environmental chemicals to determine their health risk and see if cleaning up hazardous waste sites generates even worse chemicals. The work will be funded by a $15.4 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “The focus is to improve technologies for identifying and measuring the levels and toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]… and to better assess the impact of PAHs on human health, said OSU’s Dave Williams, the lead scientist on the project.” PAHs are produced when coal, gas, oil and wood are burned and even when meat is smoked or grilled. Some can cause cancer, impede normal development or harm neurological and reproductive systems. OSU chemists will collect PAHs in the sediment, soil and water from 13 locations.
Iowa Learning Farms will host a pasture walk and field day on Wednesday, July 24, beginning at 6 p.m. at Triple C Farms near Leon. Iowa Learning Farms works with Iowa State University Extension researchers to properly identify and execute the best in-field management practices to increase water and soil quality in the most effective manner. Iowa Learning Farms prides itself on its innovative approach to help Iowans keep their region’s natural resources healthy, and the focus of this event will be pasture improvement. The event is free to the public and a complimentary evening meal will be served to all participants.
A Kansas State University researcher has discovered that inflammation that occurs naturally in dairy cows after giving birth may play a crucial role in the process of going from late pregnancy to lactation. Many disorders occur during this transition period. There was some speculation as to whether this inflammation actually was causing the metabolic problems. The research proved that mild inflammation may be a necessary part of a cow’s adaptation to lactation. Inflammation-induced insulin resistance is in some cases an adaptive phenomenon. Many species experience these dramatic shifts.
Entomologists with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences are developing a new fact sheet to provide soybean growers updated information on a stinky pest that has the potential to become a significant problem for Ohio growers. Stink bugs, known for their “sweaty feet” smell when squashed or irritated, have now made their way into Ohio soybean fields in numbers not previously experienced in the Buckeye State, said Ron Hammond, an Ohio State University Extension entomologist.
Clemson University’s Edisto Research and Education Center held its wettest Watermelon and Vegetable Field Day Thursday since the event began in 2002. Reportedly about 22 inches of rain have fallen through the fields. Since April 1st. As a result, yields are half of what they were last year. This year’s growing season has also witnessed four well-known diseases in South Carolina: powdery mildew, gummy stem blight, downy mildew and anthracnose. Rain and cloudy weather are the primary reasons for mildew.
A scientist and partners from Oregon State University borrowed technology from the Human Genome Project to further identify the genes used by a type of water mold that attacks fish, thus costing the aquaculture industry millions of dollars in losses each year. Researchers from OSU identified which genes were invading animals to start developing more effective control methods, such as improved vaccines and fungicides. Brett Tyler, professor and director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences said, “Developing new, environmentally sustainable ways to reduce fish disease will cut down on the use of chemicals on fish farms, while also protecting wild fish, such as salmon, found in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.” The study and key findings of the research have been published in the journal PLOS Genetics.
Penn State researchers are hard at work to identify drought response genes in the Jatropha. This tropical plant provides a wide range of potential as a renewable energy source should scientists be able to improve it’s stress responses. This international team of specialists has identified the first step towards engineering a hardier variety.
Immigrant farmers and novice growers face many barriers to market entry for their goods. Aside from local farmers markets and food stands, connecting to a large-scale produce distributor without appropriate language skills and cultural customs may prove to be very difficult. With a growing demand for sustainable local food, the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program has introduced a new Small and Ethnic Farmer Market Tour Project which serves as a bridge from local growers to conventional distributors.
A 324-acre farm established almost two centuries ago and which was donated in 2002 to the Ohio State University Research and Development Center is being used to grow oilseed crops that could unlock farming and biofuel developments. Oilseed crops such as flax and camelina are being grown and evaluated for their many uses, including as animal feed, biofuel and being able to diversify Ohio farms, adding to crop rotations and therefore, adding to important nutrients found in farmland soil. “We’re hoping to get a picture of the economic and ecological benefits that these crops could provide to an integrated farming system, including and beyond seed oil,” said Hannah Whitehead, the research assistant coordinating the project.
Mississippi State University scientists are helping catfish producers cut costs while maintaining a high quality. With Mississippi being the largest suppliers of catfish in the nation, saving costs would be very important. The scientists have discovered that baby catfish (called fry) can survive solely on the zooplankton already in the ponds for the first 6 weeks of life. This will save catfish farmers the time and money spent putting expensive commercial catfish feed into the ponds. On average, it would save farmers at least $236 per acre. As long as zooplankton are abundant in the pond, farmers will not have to worry about wasting feed on the hatchlings for 6 weeks, which is considerable since the price catfish feed is continually rising.
Beetles with unusual “green thumbs” for growing fungi are threatening avocado crops and could transform into a more destructive pest, according to an international team of researches. Ambrosia beetles are insects that bore into trees and cultivate fungi to use as a food source for their young. The fungi – species of Fusarium — carried by types of the Ambrosia beetle can damage or even kill trees, making the beetle and its fungi a threat to avocado production in the U.S. and Israel, said Matthew Kasson from Penn State. According to him the ambrosia beetle infestation is a global concern because the beetles can be introduced into wood pallets that are transported around the world by cargo ships.
Purdue University researchers have identified two genes within the soybean genome that are highly resistant to a soilborne pathogen that causes Phytophthora root and stem rot, a disease that costs U.S. soybean growers more than $250 million annually in lost yield. “These two genes demonstrate resistance to all the predominant isolates of this pathogen found in Indiana and many other isolates that are virulent to previously identified resistance genes,” he said. “If these two genes are effectively used in Indiana and other Midwest soybean crops, an annual net increase in soybean production would be anticipated.”
Furnace Creek, California last made the news in 1913, but is now back in the spotlight. In 1913, it made the news for hottest temperatures when it reached 134 degrees. The mercury in the Western states has already reached 130 degrees, making the media speculate that the tiny town could surpass its own record soon. This heat wave, which features multiple days with triple digit temperatures, is very threatening and dangerous to people suffering in the sweltering heat. The heat wave will inevitably diminish the quality and quantity of the foods that are produced in this region and the surrounding areas in the Western part of the United States. The most vulnerable crops are the ones that were already in flower and fruit when temperatures surged. These crops need more water than usual and the water supply has already been significantly diminished due to the persisting drought over the past few years. This means that the prices of food will inevitably rise due to the complications that will arise due to the intense heat wave. One proposed solution to the problem is to promote the use of locally produced compost to increase the moisture holding capacity of fields. Another solution is to reduce the number of bureaucratic hurdles to using small and medium scale rainwater harvesting and gray water. Gary Paul Nabhan, a University of Arizona researcher, highlights different strategies to make climate change adaptation practices more cost effective.
Scientists have long been aware that plants respond to light in a variety of ways. A new University of Florida study details how specific light wavelengths can manipulate volatile compounds that affect aroma and taste in several high-value crops, including petunia, tomato, strawberry and blueberry. These findings open the door to future studies into manipulating light to improve flavor and nutritional content of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Researchers from the University of Missouri and Kansas State University have been working to figure out a cure for a specific virus that costs the pig and hog industry $800 million annually. Most recently, the research team has disproved one way the virus spreads, which now will eliminate possible causes that researchers in the past thought the virus had been spreading. “While we didn’t find what we were looking for, we did uncover important information about the infection,” said Randall Prather, professor of reproductive biotechnology in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “This information will help us narrow our search as we continue to fight this virus. We’ll keep searching for answers until we determine how to stop PRRSV,” he said. The team of researchers will continue searching for an answer to this disease that is costing farmers millions of dollars per year.
West Nile virus was recently found to be present in a dead bird collected in Champaign County, bringing to 25 the number of counties in Illinois reporting the presence of the virus this year. Although no human cases of the virus have been reported, University of Illinois Extension entomologist Phil Nixon says it’s best to be extra diligent to protect yourself. The northern house mosquito is a small, medium brown, quiet biter meaning that it lands softly on the skin and the bite is painless enough that many people don’t even know they’ve been bit. It bites both birds and humans. That’s how the West Nile virus gets transmitted. “The mosquito bites a diseased house sparrow or other bird and then bites a human, infecting them with the virus,” Nixon said.
The deluge of rainfall this summer made a splash with some cotton farmers but created a tidal wave of challenges that some growers are still fighting. “That’s a challenge we’re running into. Farmers can’t (apply treatments) when they normally would so they’re a little bit behind schedule,” said Guy Collins, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension cotton agronomist. For growers, the challenge may also be attributed to their particular field. For those who farm on low-lying fields, the problem is the ground doesn’t drain well. Water is left standing in the fields, which drowns the cotton. Farmers with fields that slope have to deal with washes, making it difficult for equipment to travel. However, “if we were in a drought, it would be a lot worse than what we have now,” he said.