Plants without soil? This isn’t a science fiction story– it’s reality down in Georgia.
Fort Valley State University is using hydroponics, growing plants and produce in a nutrient solution instead of water or soil. While this might be an unconventional method now, hydroponics requires less labor, incurs less weather damage and bacterial contamination, which means higher production and income for farmers.
Hydroponics also requires less space which is perfect for urban gardeners – read more about the practice here.
Cover crops are planted after the main harvest to help revitalize the soil while also protecting the area from weeds. However, cover crops aren’t just environmentally friendly— they also help protect local water quality by reducing nutrient run-off and preventing erosion.
The University of Vermont has outlined the benefits of cover crops and other green farming practices in a short video illustrating how the planting goes beyond soil revival. With making cover crops more accessible, producers will be able to protect their soil and their local water sources.
Using cover crops also help farmers meet EPA goals – watch the University of Vermont’s video here to see how planting cover crops will benefit you.
Irrigation systems help supplement water to crops, but the systems might also be impacting the farmers’ perspective on climate change.
As irrigation systems maintain crops’ growth without impact from droughts and other weather patterns, farmers are less likely to realize climate change in their region. This causes unawareness in producers, and they are less likely to implement green processes that help prevent climate change.
University of Vermont links this realization to show the impact of farm infrastructure on climate perception. With this knowledge, Vermont can educate producers everywhere on the importance of recognizing climate change and incorporating preventative measures.
University of Vermont’s study is the first of its kind – read the report here.
Every year, droughts and other natural disasters impact agricultural production across the United States contributing to food insecurity and rising prices.
To reduce droughts’ impact on crop production, Tuskegee University researched forecasting to measure long-term effects of weather patterns on crops. By monitoring weather data, farmers can manage risks in the future and form preventative measures. Not only will this increase food production, it will also stabilize produce prices when natural disasters occur.
Did you know the research started in Tanzania? Read more about the project here.
Farmers have relied on Methyl bromide for the past 40 years to protect their crops from fungi, insects and weeds. Unfortunately, this highly effective pesticide is also an ozone depleting compound, so farmers have been phasing it out in favor of more environmentally friendly alternatives.
The University of California’s Division of of Agriculture and Natural Resources devoted the most recent issue of their peer reviewed journal to the various Methyl bromide alternatives available to agricultural producers.
Read more here!
Most people don’t think twice about fall yard work. When leaves fall, you rake and bag them.
The University of Virginia Cooperative Extension has a great way to save yourself some work and boost your lawn’s soil health. Going over your lawn with a lawn mower will shred the leaves and leave behind organic nutrients that improve “soil tilth and increase the moisture holding capacity of the soil.”
Read more here!
Coffee is a morning ritual for millions of Americans, and it results in vast quantities of used coffee grounds that make their way to landfills.
University of Wyoming Extension suggests putting this organic byproduct to work in the garden as mulch. Just one half-inch layer of coffee grounds helps kill weeds and brings moisture into the soil.
Watch the video here.
A University of Wisconsin Extension survey found that the majority of farms either landfill or burn their waste plastic due to a lack of convenient recycling programs. That translates into hundreds of millions of pounds annually in the United States.Agricultural plastics are essential for the storage and protection of high quality hay, but the widespread lack of recycling poses a problem.
UW hopes to make recycling easier and more available for these farmers. Their survey found that nearly all respondents were willing to transport their waste for free disposal. Based on a two-year pilot study with UW-Extension Green County, Arkansas-based Revolution Plastics will be providing a free plastic recycling program in several Wisconsin counties.
To read more about how UW-Extension plans on connecting farmers to recycling services, click here.
100 billion plastic bags make their way into American landfills each year. A plastic bag may be used for mere minutes, but it sticks around as waste for much longer.
A variety of public policies across the country have tried to reduce this waste, and each have a different set of associated pros and cons. The University of New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station is conducting new research to assess which policies are optimal.
They found that a small tax (roughly 5 cents per bag) had the best outcome, by creating an incentive for consumers who skip the bag, while also generating revenue from the remaining bag sales. This information can help inform environmental policy makers at the national, state and local level.
You can read more about UNH’s plastic bag research in BioCycle.
Researchers at Kansas State University are investigating humans’ emotional reaction to animal live streaming videos. They want to find out if viral videos like the Eagle Cam or Panda Cam can be leveraged as a new way to drive public interest in conservation.
The Bear Cam study is based in Katmai National Park in Alaska, but because of the live stream it is able to reach audiences across the country. According to K-State, the technology could also help National Parks create “visitor opportunities that reach global audiences who may not be able to travel to national parks.”
The National Park system, which celebrated its 100 year anniversary last week, had 282 million visitors in 2015. Live streaming videos have the potential to vastly spread the experience, as the Decorah Eagle Cam alone has attracted 341 million views.
The Bear Cam study began in the Spring and will continue for several years. You can tune in to the video and read more about K State’s study here.
A Virginia Tech research team from the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences has developed a way to use yeast cells instead of petroleum in a range of consumer products. The breakthrough could improve the environmental footprint of products such as cosmetics, detergents and lubricants. Collectively, these industries are a $3 billion annual market.
The team was lead by Xueyang Feng, who found a way to trick yeast cells into producing an important type of fatty alcohol that previously could only be obtained from fossil fuels.
Read more about the details of the research on the Virginia Tech website.
As many areas of the United States combat summer drought conditions, homeowners are left wondering how to maintain lawns while under water restriction. South Dakota State University Extension horticulturists have tips on watering, mowing, and fertilizer use to help you care for your drought-stressed lawn.
For more resources please visit the SDSU iGrow website.
Human and wildlife coexistence can sometimes produce unique challenges. Animals and insects can wreak havoc on crops, and some animal-borne diseases pose a threat to the food supply. According to Mississippi State University, these conflicts cause roughly $22 billion in damages across the country.
Mississippi State recently partnered with USDA to launch the Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts to address this problem. The center will host a range of programs, “including protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically-engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities.”
Read more about the center here!
A segment of the US horticultural industry focuses solely on producing new varieties of ornamental plants. The new flowers, trees and shrubs being developed are beautiful, but adaptability testing is often an afterthought. Species that thrive in a greenhouse may end up being poorly suited for nurseries.
This is why consumers need accurate and impartial information about new ornamental plants in order to make economic and environmental choices. A collaborative research project “SERA-027” studied and rated new ornamental plant varieties. They were able to identify several superior plants that are currently being underutilized. The factors they looked at include cold hardiness, heat tolerance, growth rate, environmental adaptation limits, and other qualities.
SERA-027 was funded in part through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Read more about the project here!
Potatoes are one of the top three vegetable crops in the Eastern United States. The NE-1031 research project aims to help potato farmers by fostering the development of improved potato varieties. The researchers facilitate collaboration between researchers, farmers, and bring the scientific innovations to the field.
The NE-1031 project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund and USDA NIFA.
Read more about the research project here!
The NCERA-193 research project aimed to create an integrated pest management system (IPM) for in nurseries, landscapes, and urban forests.
Nurseries are the fastest growing portions of the American agriculture industry. This amounts to $147 billion each year to the economy, and it supports over 600,000 workers.
This project reduced health threats to workers and brought together scientists to create IPM solutions faster.
The NCERA-193 project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund, which is apart of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Read more about the research project here!
A collaborative berry project supported by the Multistate Research Fund has introduced several small fruit varieties to the market that are more productive, nutritious, and water efficient. They also have strawberries that are cold hardy, raspberries that are adapted to warm weather, and blackberries that are disease resistant.
The discoveries are being shared in scientific articles and book chapters, and Ag symposia across the country.
Read more here!
UC Davis hosted a symposium called “The Basics of Tea: Tea and People” on the cultural significant of tea as apart of its tea education program.
The program also created a center for the study of tea culture with plans to make UC Davis a leader in tea research.
A University of Illinois Extension educator recommends container gardening for people without outdoor availability for plants.
As long as a container is able to hold water and has drainage pathways available, it can be used to grow plants.
Lower cost options allow farmers to protect their land’s water supply.
If a streambank isn’t fortified, it could collapse and flood a creek or body of water with sediment, which disrupts the quality and flow of the water.
Traditionally, farmers have used large boulders to fortify banks, but this is a costly solution since it requires high transportation costs.
Kansas State University Research and Extension Service suggests using local materials to fortify streambanks. This would lower the costs inflicted on the farmer.
For example, a farmer could use local trees to fortify the banks, saving tens of thousands of dollars compared to the boulder system.
To learn more about efforts to improve water for Kansas farmers, click here!
A Kansas State professor in agronomy offered advice for farmers on how to respond to fires.
Walter Fick said it’s difficult to treat every fire the same since each has different effects.
Fick said short grasses, like blue grama, might be impacted greatly by wildfires. In comparison, rhizomatous grasses, like Indiangrass, would recover easier, especially if they grow deep into the soil.
If you want to learn more, click here
California’s drought has dried up many of the state’s resources, but one resource continues to be plentiful–knowledgeable universities and soil.
Scientists at the University of California will study soil as a tool to defeat the state’s drought. The project is funded by a 1.69 million dollar grant, and will allow for the creation of a Consortium for Drought and Carbon Management. This program will allow researchers to study soil formation and stability to understand drought conditions.
With this information, the UC scientists hope to create a model that predicts soil dynamics and gauges the response of an agriculture system to drought conditions.
To read more about efforts to study California’s drought, click here
Pennsylvania farmers face a new threat.
Palmer amaranth and waterhemp have invaded the state. These two pigweeds can harm crop yields up to 91 percent.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences recommend farmers exercise complete control over possible outbreaks.
But since these pigweeds grow at fast rates, they can often become difficult to control.
To read more about the danger facing Pennsylvania farmers, click here.
Rainwater is welcome in North Dakota after a dry winter, but negative consequences have started to appear.
North Dakota State University Extension Service reported ponds and dugouts might have low water quality due to high levels of salt, minerals and bacteria.
Low water quality can be harmful particularly to livestock. If cattle ingest too much salt, it can result in illness and sometimes death.
NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory offers water quality testing for livestock animals.
To read more about the dangers facing North Dakota farmers, click here.
MSU Extension applauds the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which invites all fourth grade students to receive a free pass to federal lands. This program aims to encourage children to explore the nation’s parks at a time when an average of children spend 90 percent of their time indoors.
Each fourth-grade pass allows a student to bring three other family members for free to federal lands from September till the end of the next August.
The pass works at any national refuge, monument, park, or forest. Popular federal attractions include Yosemite National Park, Superior National Forest, Badlands National Park, and Glacier National Park.
Read more here!
A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has identified the true hybrids of the Hass and Bacon avocado variants. The project suggests that Hass-like avocados can thrive in Florida’s climate.
A particular focus was placed on selecting hybrids that are resistant to laurel wilt, which kills avocados and has been causing concern in Florida.
Read more here!
North Dakota State University Extension Service advises ranchers to plan ahead for a dry summer. Kris Ringwall, a Beef Specialist at NDSU, outlines the benefits of Dry Lot and Oats in a recent “Beef Talk” blog post.
Read more here!
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences warns that laurel wilt has been reported in all but 6 of the state’s 67 counties, and is expected to spread. UF experts recommend maintaining the health of your avocado trees with proper fertilizer and irrigation. If you suspect that some of your trees are infected with laurel wilt contact the Florida Division of Plant Pathology. Do not attempt to move infected trees unless burning / burying them at a local landfill.
Read more here!
As Spring arrives, a University of Illinois agricultural economist predicts how successful will this year’s corn and soybean market be!
Learn how much time and planning goes into harvesting corn and soybeans.
Read more here!
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has just announced a $4 million grant to support research and extension efforts to address existing and future pest control issues and increase crop protection practices. The fund is the work of Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) Program that is administered by NIFA and since 2014 has awarded $32.5 million to aid research and extension into integrated pest management efforts (IPM). All competitive fiscal year 2016 grants will be in the Applied Research and Development (ARDP) focus area and the closing date for applications is June 8.
For background on IPM and to learn more about collaboration between land-grant universities on this issue read our Q&A with Dr. Steve Young, Director of the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center both in interview and in our Twitter Town Hall.
Read more here!
University of New Hampshire researcher Rick Cote has received a grant from the USDA to expand his research on roundworms. Cote and his team are hopeful that their research will lead to the discovery of pesticides that will combat these agricultural pests. The work will be in collaboration with Valerie Williamson, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Parasitic roundworms infest 2,000 species of plants and are one of the most damaging groups of roundworms to crops. Crops like corn, cotton, wheat, soybean, rice, and potato are particularly vulnerable to the pest.
Research by Cote, Williamson, and their research teams will discover new nematicides to eliminate the roundworms without adverse effects on the agricultural ecosystem.
Read more here!
A researcher at the Mississippi State University Department of Landscape Architecture is pushing for increased recycling of gray water.
Gray water is any water that comes in contact with humans. This includes water used for showers, washing dishes, and other daily activities.
MSU says gray water is perfect for use in gardening and agriculture.
Read more here!
Spring’s arrival signals gardening season. Are you pruning your plants properly? Oregon State’s Extension program is offering helpful tips to keep your garden in tip-top shape this Spring.
Different plants and shrubbery require their own pruning techniques. However, constant pruning is unhealthy for plants. It’s important to keep the plant size and blooms in mind before cutting back a plant.
Read more here!
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire Ag Experiment Station have launched a multiyear program targeted at understanding the impact of droughts on Northern forests.
This research will allow scientists to understand the effect of climate change on forest health, productivity and hydrology, and will enable researchers to make decisions ensuring the sustainability of forests and water resources in the future. The team hopes to simulate a 55 percent reduction in annual growing season precipitation, determined after a review of 100 years of precipitation records.
Read more here!
The University of Vermont Extension has developed new software that helps farmers produce high-yield, high-quality crops. GoCrop allows farmers to track a field’s soil fertility and nutrition. This easy-to-use app can be accessed online and all information is stored in a cloud database system.
Over 200 Vermont farms have been using the app since its 2012 release. The app also helps farmers save money and maintain high water quality. UVM also launched a series of courses for farmers that, in conjunction with the app, allow farmers to learn about nutrient management and the impact of water quality on crops.
Read more here!
A study funded by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium into salt marsh restoration sees small, private landowners as crucial in protecting the economic and environmental wellbeing of the country’s coastlines. A team of researchers from Mississippi State University, the University of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the University of Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve collaborated to investigate how restoration can be most effective along the Gulf Coast.
Salt marshes are a vital natural resource acting to filter pollutants from runoff before they enter the sea and also help prevent erosion. They provide a habitat for animals and organisms on which commercially important seafood such as shrimp and fish are reliant.
Coastal hard management technologies such as sea wall construction are often favoured and result in reducing these salt marsh areas. However, the study sees soft management practices as proving the longer term and more sustainable option.
Read more here!
An ongoing study into the production of spinach during winter months is filling the void in research that could help New Hampshire growers tackle the area’s short growing season and boost the local economy.
The study is being conducted at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, the University of New Hampshire’s original research center, and is funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Eight different spinach varieties are being tested in terms of yield, sugar content, ease of harvest and average leaf size measurements across six different time points in order to create recommendations and even target planting dates to help growers make the most of their resources.
Read more here!
As spring approaches, Alabama Extension is offering tips to take advantage of prime planting season. Recent warm temperatures might make it tempting to begin planting early, but Alabama Extension encourages waiting until warm weather settles in before starting your garden.
The disadvantages of planting in cool soil include low yields, slow growth, and higher susceptibility to insect and weed damage. Because of these risks, the safest time to plant is generally mid-March-April or May in most places.
Alabama Extension encourages planters to check soil temperatures by placing a meat thermometer 2″ below the soil. Using the temperature and a warm 7-day forecast, the best planting decisions can be made.
Read more here!
A $5M grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture will find new ways to combat Johnsongrass, a troublesome agricultural weed.
This five year project will include help from researchers from Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia. The new information may lead to new management strategies and provide farmers with more options to stop the stubborn weed. Johnsongrass was introduced to the U.S in the 1800s and is responsible for millions of dollars lost in agricultural revenue every year.
Read more here!
An assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources (UNL-IANR) has developed a free, web-based program that condenses the latest climate, soil and crop modeling technologies into an interactive tool farmers can use to help plan their business. Guillermo Baigorria, in his role as a Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute Faculty Fellow, has launched CropClimate which allows users to input the data of different environmental situations and so maximize yields.
With CropClimate’s potential to increase production, reduce risk and conserve resources, this launch will be of great interest to a number of groups, from farmers and policymakers through to seed agrochemical and insurance companies.
Find out more here!
Researchers met recently at the 4th National Plant Diagnostic Network in Washington, D.C. to help shed light on potentially devastating plant issues.
Researcher Jason Smith of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Plant Diagnostic Center shed light on the importance of this issue and discussed ways to control the spread of the pathogen Laurel Wilt, as it could severely impact Florida’s $100 million-a-year avocado industry.
Read more here!
Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are taking a closer look at the foods we love to eat and are finding great health benefits.
UF Assistant professor Wendy Dahl and other researchers studied minerals, nuts, herbs, prebiotics and probiotics to explore the link between food and health conditions.
Read more here!
A team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers led by Jim Alfano at the Center for Plant Science Innovation and Department of Plant Pathology have published their findings into the work of the bacterial pathogens that target a plant’s immune system. Their study centered on the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae and its method of injecting the protein HopE1 into plant cells which through a series of reactions ultimately compromises the plant’s immune system.
The research into HopE1 is part of the team’s larger work to identify new components in plant immunity. An improved understanding of the defense mechanisms of plants would pave the way to improved disease resistance of crops and therefore increase crop quality and yield.
Read more here!
Winter is lambing season on California sheep ranches – a perilous time of year. Babies are vulnerable prey for wildlife like coyotes. With non-lethal methods of controlling wildlife now in place, University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center is researching ways to protect sheep farms.
UC’s research will not only estimate the wildlife population, but will use GPS collars on prey to gain insight into their interactions. UC Hopland will also test fencing installed by producers to protect sheep from carnivores. This research will contribute to finding effective, non-lethal ways to protect sheep.
Read more here!
Forest-grown mushrooms not only generates tasty food, but also produces the most reliable and profitable non-timber products in the forest farming system.
Over the years, people have become more interested in forest-cultivation, and now Cornell University is currently working on informing farmers on methods like mushroom cultivation.
Read more here!
University of California, Davis scientists look into winery wastewater, in hopes of finding smart and eco-friendly ways to irrigate vines.
Researchers have studied winery wastewater samples from 18 wineries in the Napa and Lodi regions of California for nearly two years.
The information is the first data to support the California wine industry’s reuse of treated winery wastewater.
Read more here!
University of Maryland Eastern Shore has recently received $1.2M in grant money from the USDA’s NIFA. The grant will be divided between UMES faculty members Robert Dadson, Anugrah Shaw and Eric May to fund their research projects.
Dadson’s research helps farmers bring safe and nutritious salad greens to market.
May’s research addresses environmental concerns about the cause of Urea in aquatic ecosystems, which poses a threat to human life.
Shaw is founding the International Center for Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Operators, which will focus on worker safety by developing new standards and clear communications.
Read more here!
Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has unveiled a new app for nature enthusiasts. The app, First Investigation of Stream Health (FISH), gives nature lovers the opportunity to see how the health of local streams and surrounding habitats change over time while doing the outdoor activities that they love.
The app makes it easy to be citizen-scientist by observing and recording environmental and ecosystem changes with only a pencil and smartphone. All ages can participate, and FISH can be especially useful for landowners with streams on their properties.
Read more here!
A group of Congressional lawmakers are holding a forum today to investigate the status of USDA research on citrus greening. The Congressional Citrus Caucus has invited USDA officials including Mike Gregoire (associate administrator of the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service), Mary Palm (national coordinator for Citrus Pest Programs), and Sonny Ramaswamy (director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture).
Reps. Tom Rooney (FL), David Valadao (CA) and Filemon Vela (TX) chair the Citrus Caucus. The forum will take place at 1:30 pm in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill.
Read more here!
Washington State University’s viticulturists are changing the grape-growing game. Their research is developing new ways to conserve water and improve the production of white wine grapes.
In the arid areas of Washington, efficient irrigation techniques are key to white wine grape production. This is especially important for Washington where chardonnay and riesling grapes account of 75% of the state’s wine production.
Aside from merely studying various irrigation methods used around the world, WSU is putting new irrigation strategies to the test. The researchers are assessing three decision aid tools for irrigation scheduling.
Read more here!
Virginia Tech professor Susan Duncan has been named associate director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station.
Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, created in 1886, is at the forfront of key, innovative research in the ag sector. It also works in conjunction with Virginia Cooperative Extension to create and maintain science-based applications to guarantee the use of agricultural, natural, and community resources in an economic and environmentally sound capacity that enhances the quality of life.
Not only will Duncan be overseeing the experiment station and 11 Agricultural Research and Extension Centers around the state, she will also be heading major research initiatives through the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station in her new role.
Read more here!
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is getting the word out about smarter irrigation strategies. By developing cost-effective, easy to use water saving tools, UGA is hoping to increase the number of farmers using irrigation scheduling.
Currently, only 10-20% of Georgia farmers use irrigation scheduling.
UGA Cooperative Extension is researching ways to provide farmers with both the techniques and the knowledge to implement water-saving irrigation plans through smart phone apps and web tools like IrrigatorPro.
Read more here!
With freezing temperatures and predicted snowfall beginning to move into many regions, Kansas State University has provided a helpful guide to fire safety.
Do you know how to keep your indoor fireplace in working condition? What regulations are there in your region on outdoor fires? If you need a refresher, Kansas State has covered essential fire wise thinking that is sure to keep you safe and warm this winter.
The tips include how to properly maintain a fireplace to prevent house fires, how to safely warm your car before you start your day, and how to successfully plan a controlled burn outdoors. Using these important tips, you can safely stay warm this winter.
Read more here!
The University of Florida and Florida State University are sharing a $4 Million USDA grant to tackle citrus greening, a disease that moves through a tree’s veins.
Since citrus greening was first detected in 2005, Florida has lost over $7 billion in revenues, 162,000+ acres, and nearly 8,000 jobs. Researchers at UF and FSU are hoping to use the grant to find new, more effective techniques to combat the issue.
Read more here!
UC Berkeley is set to lead a $12.3 million project to explore how epigenetics can allow plants to better survive drought conditions. The project is funded by the Department of Energy, and comes at an important time for water security in California.
The researchers at UC Berkeley will be working with scientists at UC Agriculture andNatural Resources, the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, and the Pacific Northwest National Lab.
The grant was announced on Monday and will fund the project for five years.
Read more here!
According to MSU researchers, producers throughout the state grow cover crops primarily for their benefits to soil health. These findings come from a recent survey that looked at how ag producers’ manage cover crops.
The survey was led by researchers including Clain Jones, Perry Miller and Cathy Zabinski. In addition to soil-health considerations, the study has revealed that forage is also an important rationale for cover crops for many producers. 30% of surveyed producers cite grazing as one of the reasons they plant cover crops.
Read more here!
University of Delaware plant researchers are making scientific progress towards combatting a fungus (Magnaporthe Oryzae) that can devastate rice plants.
The work is being lead by Harsh Bais, associate professor of plant and soil sciences in University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The findings were recently published in Frontiers in Plant Sciences and in Current Opinion in Plant Biology.
Read more here!
University of California, Riverside assistant professor Samantha Ying is studying soil with a team of researchers to develop new tools to fight the drought. The team was awarded a $1.69 million grant from the University of California Office of the President for the project.
Ying’s collaborators are: Kate Scow and Sanjai Parihk (UC Davis); Eoin Brodie and Margaret Torn (UC Berkeley); Asmeret Berhe and Teamrat Ghezzehei (UC Merced); and Peter Nico and William Riley (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).
The grant is one of four awards totaling more than $4.8 million from University of California President Janet Napolitano’s President’s Research Catalyst Awards.
Read more here!
Most plants are fertilized during spring. But on this edition of Get It Growing, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill explains why some plants need to be fertilized during winter.
Watch the video here!
What’s your SQI? Auburn University researchers are working to ensure that this is a common question among the state’s farmers.
Charles Mitchell, a professor in the College of Agriculture Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department and an Alabama Extension agronomist, explained that Alabama’s SQI (Soil Quality Index) —the first of its kind in the South—is a new measurement of soil health that can help farmers improve their crop production and help conserve natural resources.
“We want our soils to be healthy enough to grow row crops, fruits and vegetables and forages,” said Mitchell. “This index can be reviewed every few years to ensure that your soils are improving.”
It’s a great project, and a fantastic closing note on the 2015 International Year of Soils.
Read more here!
Noxious weeds can be an irritable part of daily life for many farmers, but what if that weed is closely related to one of the most important crops grown in the United States? Johnsongrass fits this profile, and it is closely related to the important grain Sorghum. The close relationship between the two plants complicates the eradication of Johnsongrass.
Kansas State University’s Michael Smith, a professor of entomology, is leading a five year research project supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to find genetic material in Johnsongrass to help fight the noxious weed.
The program is called “Principles underlying the success of the weedy invader Sorghum halepense (‘Johnsongrass’) toward its containment and mitigation.”
Read more here!
Delaware State University’s College of Agriculture and Related Sciences was recently awarded almost $900,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funding to help support research, teaching and cooperative extension programs.
The funding to DSU was part of a larger package of more than $18 million that the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has recently distributed through 53 competitive grants to support research, teaching, and extension activities at 1890 historically black land-grant colleges and universities.
The grant awarded to DSU will go toward three specific projects:
Read more here!
The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities has named Auburn University the winner of the 2015 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University prize. The award recognized several innovative projects, including an effort to establish an off-bottom oyster-culture industry along the Alabama coast.
Auburn won in the “place” category for excellence in the field of community, social and cultural development work.
Auburn University contributes $5.1 billion per year to Alabama’s economy, and supports 23,600 jobs. Auburn was one of 18 universities named to the APLU third annual class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities.
Read more here!
Virginia Cooperative Extension associate professor John Munsell, a forest management specialist, was recently awarded $1.4 million to expand the use agroforestry to complement farm and forest production. Agroforestry is a land use management system that uses trees in conjunction with crops to create more diverse and productive land use systems.
Professor Munsell will use the funding to integrate agroforestry practives into Virginia’s water quality trading program.
“The objective is to increase tree-based nutrient offset opportunities on farmland in Virginia’s region of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond,” Munsell told the Augusta Free Press.
Read more here!
The multistate Research and Extension Project WERA 77 was formed to find sustainable and economical ways to combat weeds in wheat. Coordination of the research and extension efforts has facilitated the rapid transmission of new knowledge to growers.
The project has provided the tools for quicker identification of weed species and this has allowed more targeted herbicide applications that prevent outbreaks.
Read more here!
The North Dakota State University Extension Service is holding irrigation workshops Dec. 10 in Bismarck and Dec. 16 in Williston.
“The drought in California and its impact on high-value irrigated crops have been in the news for the past year,” says Extension water quality and irrigation specialist Tom Scherer. “This has raised concerns about fresh water supplies throughout the U.S. Irrigators in California and many other states have been using more technology to fine-tune their management of allocated water, resulting in less pumped water with equal yields. Better irrigation management technologies are the focus of these workshops.”
Read more here!
Scientists at UC Davis are researching pumpkins to better understand how parts of a plant communicate. The researchers have already made several important breakthroughs including genome sequencing and the identification of florigen, which is the signal that tells the plant when to flower.
Read more here!
Perennial Sow Thistle is a weed that interferes with onion growth in muck land areas. Researchers at Cornell University Cooperative Extension ran a project to test ways to protect valuable onion crops in New York. They found that one herbicide, Stinger, if applied at the right time in the thistle’s growth can eliminate its ability to survive the winter. The discovery gives growers a cost effective and practical technique to protect their crops through the winter. Read more here!
UC Davis has received a grant from the USDA-NIFA to study how new technologies can help sustain and increase the world’s lettuce supply. The researchers are looking at every level of the lettuce production chain including isolating stress resistant traits for breeding and developing imaging technologies for producers. The project brings together researchers from across the state with breeding companies and the California Leafy Greens Research Board.
Read more here!
The spotted wing drosophila, a small insect that targets berries and stone fruits, costs farmers more than $700 million a year. The insects lay their eggs in ripe fruit, particularly blueberries, which makes them unfit to be sold. Blueberries are a huge industry in the state of Georgia, where in 2013 farmers produced $313 million in the fruit. To help reduce the loss from these pests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently gave the University of Georgia a $2 million grant to research ways to stop the spotted wing drosophila. The effort is led by Ashfaq Sial, an expert on the insect and an entomologist at the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
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The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is helping Nebraska farmers learn more about their fields and how they can improve productivity. Nebraska Extension educators work with farm operators to assess which projects should be evaluated and work together to discuss findings and improve practices. Topics for research include: optimal planting populations, including variable rate seeding approaches, nitrogen management using several new technologies, strip-tillage, evaluation of insect and disease control products and row spacing. Most research takes place on the farm with the grower’s equipment and practices. The network includes Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Soybean Board.
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Using compost in a garden can help conserve water. UC Researchers have been telling Californians that the liberal use of compost can help soil to retain water, reducing the need for watering. Compost is organic matter that has been broken down by worms and micro-organisms. Some of compost’s other benefits are improvement of soil texture, feeding beneficial bacteria and providing nutrients for plants.
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The University of Georgia’s pecan specialist believes that the state’s trees have finally overcome the struggles of a wet 2013. Wet years are known to cause increased pecan scab disease which stress a tree and can infect nuts. This year, farmers were more able to protect their trees and as a result stand to make more profit due to increased yields and steady prices. Georgia is the nation’s leading pecan producer, with over 145,000 acres of pecans being grown in 2013.
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Researchers at Mississippi State have found a way to help farmers protect their grain sorghum crop. In other states, sorghum had been destroyed by aphids but researchers at MSU found that a combination of insecticides has protected the $33 million crop. Additionally, the researchers were able to reach out to the Environmental Protection Agency to make the use of insecticides more affordable for local farmers. Overall, the early numbers of this year’s harvest could reveal a record-breaking yield.
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Research from the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences and the Cooperative Extension at Delaware State University has led to new advances with sweet potatoes crop, and may be the key to unlocking a cheaper source of valuable nutrients. Because of its drought resistant nature, sweet potatoes can be used as an alternative enterprise for farmers with limited resources. Four different varieties have been shown to grow well in Delaware’s climate. Read more here!
Kansas produces around 15 percent of U.S. wheat per year, earning up to $3 billion annually. Kansas State agricultural economist, Andrew Barkley, has been studying wheat for close to 30 years and found that spring heat is more damaging to wheat than freezing temperatures. Research also suggests that pest-resistant strains of wheat are less able to handle temperature changes.
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Florida has more coastline than any of the other 48 connected states and one of the largest collections of freshwater springs on the planet. However, many of Florida’s springs are facing excessive algae growth. An UF/IFAS research team believes that rather than being caused only by compounds in agricultural runoff, decreased amount of snails also may be a factor. At 11 different springs, a lower population of snails indicated higher concentrations of algae. State officials announced they will continue to investigate this connection.
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Despite different locations and environments, soils located around the world may be more closely related than previously believed. A new global study has found that despite having different microbial compositions, the responses of the soil to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers were similar. Understanding this fact is important for “improving the sustainability of agricultural and forage production practices,” according to the University of Kentucky’s Rebecca McCulley. Microbes have been shown to impact soil fertility, health and the function of ecosystems.
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Mulch may do more for a a garden than make it look nice. Missy Gable of the UC Master Gardener program says that mulch may also help to conserve soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and inhibit weed growth. Gable recommends coating a garden in two to four inches of fine-to medium-shred bark mulch. Mulches are often available for purchase by the bag or in bulk at home improvement or landscaping material suppliers. For a cheaper option, use yard waste such as plant or grass clippings to enhance and protect soils. Just be sure to leave enough space around the base of the plants to prevent rotting.
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The UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center works to educate people about the importance of the postharvest stage. In a video produced by the Center, CA&ES’s Dean Helene Dillard talks about the importance of such education and professional opportunities for those who study postharvest technology.
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A study from the University of California, Davis finds native wildflowers in California are losing species diversity after multiple years of drier winters. This provides the first direct evidence of climate change impacts in the state’s grassland communities. “Such diversity losses may foreshadow larger-scale extinctions, especially in regions that are becoming increasingly dry,” said lead author Susan Harrison, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. The future grassland communities of California are expected to be less productive, provide less nutrition to herbivores, and become more vulnerable to invasion by exotic species, the study said.
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The University of Kentucky has been awarded a grant to help solve the dubas bug outbreak in Oman. They use their high-tech gut content analysis lab to figure out the bug hierarchy. This way, they can then control and effectively prevent the dubas bug from ravaging the date palm plantations of Oman. Research conducted on infestation preventation is a great tool for agriculturists to have at their disposal.
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In order to further the cause of South Carolina State’s research mission to improve the quality of life in South Carolina, the Research and Extension program has awarded $30,000 in grant funding to faculty. The projects that this year’s funding focused on included examinations of African Americans attending secondary schools, inadequate study habits of post-secondary students, and environmental health hazard settings in child care facilities.
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New research at West Virginia State is focusing on identifying and developing remedies for the condition of local agricultural economies and environmentally friendly use of soil, water, and renewable resources in the Appalachia region. This research has uncovered the potential to mitigate the impact of storm water runoff on water quality, divert selected waste streams into valuable products to improve soil fertility, and improve productivity of disturbed areas and reclaimed land, among others.
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The Langston University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences has been awarded a $22,000 grant by the USDA and Tuskegee University for swine research activity. This is in response to a recent breakout of feral swine risks and damages to property, agriculture, natural resources, and human health. The USDA is hoping that Langston’s research will help our understanding of feral swine as well as provide outreach materials to farmers and ranchers.
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Eight volunteers from Florida A&M University traveled to Haiti to train local small farmers on best agricultural practices and market development. FAMU’s Office of International Agricultural Programs donated seeds, fertilizer, and hand tools to stimulate growth for small farms. While farmers had not previously taken advantage of the opportunity for increased income through production of high-value vegetable crops, FAMU’s contributions now gives them a chance.
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Chicken litter produced in Delmarva Peninsula is being used as an organic fertilizer. However, due to the high levels of Phosphorus it contains, local bodies of water are facing water degradation. The Delaware State University Agriculture Research Station has partnered with other groups, including Delaware Department of Agriculture, to develop better application rates of the fertilizer to avoid too much runoff into water bodies like Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay.
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Horticulture advisors at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources recommend “grasscycling” to conserve water. Grasscycling is the process of leaving grass clipping on the lawn, instead of removing them. Leaving the clippings reduces water evaporation and helps to cut down the need for fertilizer. It’s an easy way to help Californians meet their conservation goal.
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In the past, Arkansas farmers have faced several environmental issues that inhibited their ability to do business. Now, with the implementation of Discovery Farms, farmers are more involved in resolving farm related environmental issues including water quality and quantity, irrigation water use and soil health, among others. These nine Discovery Farms are becoming increasingly central to best agriculture practices across the state.
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The USDA and the United Nations have named this year the International Year of Soils. Of the limited areas of productive soil available on earth’s surface, many are being threatened by urban development, poor soil management practices, and overgrazing. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is using the year to bring soil the recognition it deserves, as well as help promote policies to protect it.
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The largest meta-analysis ever done in agriculture is finally wrapping up for UC Davis. The study concerns no-till farming, a popular conservation agriculture strategy that has long been promoted worldwide in an effort meet global food demand. The results of this analysis revealed that no-till farming negatively impacts yields on a global scale. Long considered the most sustainable form of farming, researchers now have to reconsider when and where to implement no-till strategies.
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The North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station has released their new soybean variety, ND Henson, just in time for Soybean Sunday. ND Henson is intended to replace the NDSU-developed cultivar Cavalier due to its delayed maturity and increased yield rate. “With the growing problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds, there is a potential for a conventional soybeans, such as ND Henson, to be a good fit with marginal land situations and save on seed costs,” says Ted Helms, and NDSU soybean breeder. To learn more about this development, follow the link below:
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If you can beat ‘em, then eat ‘em. That is the philosophy embraced by Mark Morgan, an associate professor at the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri, in dealing with the spread of invasive carp in rivers throughout the Midwest. Mark and his team have identified and tested a commercially viable carp product, and are currently working on marketing it to grocers. It is important to prevent the spread of this invasive species as soon as possible, as it could very well choke out fish that are native to that area and collapse a multi-billion dollar fishing industry. To find out more about Mark’s work, follow the link below.
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The University of Missouri is using existing Midwestern rivers research data to predict future problems that may appear due to climate shifts. This project will focus on the floodplains of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Despite the fact that there are over 85,000 acres of state and federally owned conservation lands in large-river floodplains, no one knows if the water will rise, how long it will stay flooded, and what the implications of the flooding will be. The University of Missouri team wants to change that. “In addition to conservation benefits, these lands have the potential to provide valuable ecosystem services like habitats, nutrient processing, carbon sequestration and flood-water storage,” says Craig Paukert, associate cooperative professor of fisheries and wildlife at MU’s School of Natural Resources. Paukert plans to formalize the understanding of the information needs for management of the floodplain conservation lands.
Read more here!
Recently the Arkansas Water Resources Center (AWRC) passed its three-year evaluation and will be able to continue receiving federal funding. As a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, the AWRC is one of only 54 water resource research centers across the United States of America. AWRC uses their funding to train new scientists, disseminate research results to water managers and the public, and cooperate with other institutions in their regions on water issues. Federal funded projects at AWRC include irrigation and runoff, innovative domestic wastewater disposal systems, groundwater modeling, land-use mapping, erosion and pollution, water quality, as well as ecosystems.
Since September is National Preparedness Month, it’s the perfect time to recognize one of the leading sources in preparing for crop protection. Since its inception in 1989, the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) has been providing real-time weather data to assist with crop management in North Dakota. Over the course of 25 years, NDAWN has seen expansion from 6 original weather stations to 75, streamlined access capabilities to anyone with internet, been credited with helping save the potato crop, and developed into a dynamic resource for the agricultural community. With assistance from the North Dakota State University Extension Service in keeping the stations operational, NDAWN has now reached their 25th anniversary.
Cornell maintains the largest noncommercial greenhouse facility in all of New York. Such a distinction however comes with a few caveats. For one, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by Cornell’s facility is equal to that of 2,642 passenger vehicles, or 1,744 homes. Therefore, “staff and faculty from the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) worked with staff from Organizational Effectiveness to use the “lean” process improvement approach to save on greenhouse energy without diminishing the essential value of Cornell’s greenhouses.” The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Learn more about the lean initiative and results, after the jump.
Professors from Cornell University seek to brew agricultural, environmental and economics sustainability together for the world’s smallholder coffee bean growers. Professors who specialize in soil science and economics are examining the entire supply chain-from tiny producers to the coffee drinkers- to gain insight as to how they can improve conditions for small farms in Colombia. Miguel Gómez, professor at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management said, “I think we’re the first team to measure the environment and biodiversity in a systematic way.” The researchers will partner with Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, who use a coffee model which offers roasters and small farmers the opportunity to establish a long-term trading partnership for high-quality coffee.
Facing the challenges of a growing population, it is vital for the agricultural industry to develop new practices, such as conserving plants. By using new computer technology, the Division of Agriculture at Mississippi State University helps famers to plant the seeds more efficiently, leading to overall cost reductions at a higher yield. As illustrated, the collaboration between universities and the agriculture business is indispensable for tackling upcoming challenges.
Louisiana State University’s AgCenter shares this interesting release on how the Environmental Protection Agency Watershed Task Force is partnering with land-grant institutions to reduce pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Increased Nitrogen and phosphorus can help improve yields for farmers, but these nutrients can be detrimental to water systems.
Read the full release here!
For over 20 years, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension Program has been effectively running a pesticide container recycling program. The program recycled nearly 35-tons of containers in 2013 alone, leaving them with a 22-year total of over 1,000 tons of plastic pesticide containers. The program’s mission is to provide the farming community with safe, reliable, and cost-effective means for recycling their dangerous (environmentally and otherwise) waste. The plastic refuse is transformed into industrial and consumer products, such as shipping pallets, drain tile, and parking lot tire bumpers. The longevity of success this program has endured speaks to not only the need to recycle, but also the want to recycle as evident from community volunteers, without whom this program would never take off as it has.
Torrential rains hit Florida’s Panhandle late this April, effectively kicking the proverbial horse that is the agricultural community while it remained down from nutrient-sapped, over-saturated soil. The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension officials have been working tirelessly in attempts to solve this problem; due to the timing of the rains this April, soil has not been able to dry – which is necessary for proper planting of seeds for upcoming harvests. Not only is the crop yield affected, but erosion and nutrient leaching are also top concerns for the region. Even Escambia County’s UF Extension office was flooded by the downpour. Officials have been working on the move, therefore, to remedy the situation.
Happy Bug Week! The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences knows that bugs and insects are a common source of questions due to their prevalence in the state of Florida, so it is dedicating the week of May 19 through May 23 as the second annual Bug Week. Their online home for Bug Week contains information on everyone’s favorite creepy crawlies as well as interactive activities for children. There will be a Q&A session on Twitter May 21 as well as scavenger hunts on the UF campus. One final goal of Bug Week is to compile a document containing Florida residents’ most commonly asked questions about insects. “The UF Department of Entomology and Nematology is one of the best in the country,” said Ruth Hohl Borger, assistant vice president for UF/IFAS Communications. “Bug Week is a great opportunity for our researchers to excite the imaginations of children – and children at heart – about the bugs that live among us.”
Researchers at the University of Kentucky are currently conducting thorough research and analysis to predict future trends in the forestry industry in Kentucky. The state is currently growing twice as many trees as it cuts down, and it is leading the way towards a sustainable model of forestry, supporting the economic growth of the US without destroying the forest. The wood industry is an integral part of Kentucky’s economy. This research will set a precedent for how the state is to conduct business in the future with regard to economic and environmental sustainability of this growing sector.
UC Davis held it’s Wine Executive Program in which David E. Block, professor and chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology, discussed the up and coming technology in winemaking and addressed issues in the business. Block spoke on the latest technology in production and also bettering the management of utilities and waste. The issues faced were increasing wine quality and sustainability and cutting processing costs all while better managing natural resources. Improvement highlights included sorting grapes with special machines for optimal harvest and to better manage fermentation. Block also discussed using automated systems to clean at lower costs, minimizing water use and controlling carbon dioxide.
UC Davis is ringing in Earth Day with the unveiling of their new Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) at the campus’ old landfill. The large tanks of the biodigester contain bacterial microbes that take food and yard waste and convert it into clean energy that supplies the campus electrical grid. Ruihong Zhang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis has been working on this project for over a decade now. “It has been the thrust of my research to bring the innovations we made possible at UC Davis to commercial scale,” Zhang said. “This technology can change the way we manage our solid waste. It will allow us to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. I am proud and grateful to be a part of the team who helped make this moment a reality.” The digester can convert 50 tons of waste into 12,000 kWh of renewable energy, which takes away 20,000 tons of waste from landfills per year.
April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, and according to UAEX, invasive plant pests are alive in well in an unlikely spot- in your firewood. “So many of the invasive pests we already have in the United States came accidentally — hitchhiking in wood pallets or other wood shipments,” Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resource Center said. The Formosan termite is an example of one of those pests, and it causes $1 billion in damage each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The key to stopping these insects is to not move firewood, even if you plan to burn all the wood. “It’s still possible that a fallen flake of bark or an egg or spore could drop off in the woods or on your vehicle before the first match is struck, the hitchhiker still has a chance to set up home in a new location,” Walkingstick said.
Berkeley touches on the severe wildfire problems due to the causes in temperate and drought problems. From Nebraska to California, from 1984 to 2011, wildfires have increased by seven fires. “Most of these trends show strong correlations with drought-related conditions which, to a large degree, agree with what we expect from climate change projections,” said Max Moritz,a co-author of the study and a fire specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, Cooperative Extension.
Now more than ever more and more farms are plugging into the sun to meet their energy needs. Because of this Ohio State has organized a program where farmers can learn about the benefits of solar energy systems from other farmers as well as industry and university experts. With current technology improvements, solar systems are helping farmers cut electricity demands and reduce the volatility of future energy costs.
UC Berkeley and Ohio State University have teamed up to develop a new way to identify the resistance of trees to the sudden oak death disease. Phytophthora ramorum is a fungus-like pathogen that has killed millions of oak trees on the West Coast and could potentially moved towards the East Coast. “This is the first time anyone has been able to come up with a method to predict resistance to a forest tree disease in natural populations in the field,” said Pierluigi Bonello, a plant pathologist with Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
As the snow begins to melt, and the temperatures begin to rise, many people are ready to jump in the water and enjoy the warm weather. But the University of Arkansas warns all pond and lake owners to assess the water for aquatic weeds before bringing the boat out. “Plant growth won’t always hinder the use of a pond,” George Selden, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Extension fisheries specialist, said. “But if there are problematic weeds and they are not monitored and stopped, they can grow thick so quickly that it may become impossible to launch a boat, swim or fish.” By assessing the weed situation early in the spring, Selden mentions that they will be much easier and cheaper to deal with. “Also, dissolved oxygen problems can result if herbicides are used to control weeds during the summer, so treatment needs to occur before the water gets hot.”
Oregon State University researchers have done some digging and as a result have new findings about antibiotic use in orchards. They have found a couple of organic alternatives as opposed to the two antibiotics currently used. It has recently been discovered that the antibiotics currently used create fire blight, a bacterial disease, which can wipe out an entire orchard. “In OSU trials, researchers tested the commercially available Blossom Protect, a yeast that clings to apple blossoms and pears and prevents colonization by fire blight bacteria,” says Daniel Robison, Public Service Communications Specialist for OSU.
At the beginning of the year, there were record breaking cold winter condition in the West, but the Southwest, Clovis, New Mexico specifically, went through a different phenomenon. The strong winds were breaking off dry tumbleweeds from fields and covering houses with weeds, many as high as the roof. It took multiple days and heavy machinery to help remove the weeds and get people out of their houses. Abdel Mesbah, superintendent of the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, says that the reason for this tumbleweed invasion is because farmers and growers didn’t clean their fields from last year of dry weeds. He also added that it might be possible that since so many seeds spread this year, there could be even more tumbleweeds next year. “Growers might have a hard time next year trying to get rid of them or see more of them,” he said. “That’s why it is important to clean the fields every year.” Researchers at NMSU warn people to clean up their backyards and farmers their fields when they see any signs of invasive plants.
Now that spring has sprung, grass will begin growing which means that weeds will as well. Crabgrass is the most common weed in Kentucky lawns. “Crabgrass is an annual weed that outcompetes desirable grasses and then dies in the fall, leaving bare spots in yards for winter weeds to fill in,” said Gregg Munshaw, extension turf specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “The cycle keeps repeating itself until the turf stand gets poorer and poorer.” The best way to tackle these weeds is to apply pre-emergent herbicide to grass. “April 15 has traditionally been the latest date to apply pre-emergent herbicides in Central Kentucky,” Munshaw said. “Western Kentucky’s deadline is usually a few days earlier, and Eastern Kentucky’s time frame usually ends a few days later.”
Purdue University’s Extension program will participate in head scab research alongside stakeholders in the cereal, fungicide, millers, brewers and feed industries. Kiersten Wise, an Extension plant pathologist, says they will be working with the initiative and use the results to help further research and efforts regarding grains. The results of the survey will be analyzed at both the national and state levels and shared with local growers to aid in forecasting and early detection.
Oregon State University scientists have created a fashion accessory that doubles as a pollution detector. OSU has developed silicone bracelets that contain a porous surface that mimics a cell, absorbing chemicals that people are exposed to through their environment. OSU professors and scientists hope that these bracelets may help us link possible health effects to chemicals in our environment.
While most food waste usually winds up in a landfill, Professor Edwin Lewis, who studies soil ecology in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis, has found a more productive use for it. Lewis is using an aerobic digestion process to break down the matter acquired from grocery stores into a liquid fertilizer. He believes the fertilizer fuels additional root growth and allows plants to better absorb nutrients. Last year, he and his team ran field trials on different crops. “We did about 40 trials,” he said. “In most of them there was some improvement.”
Around this time of year, people who own farm ponds are starting to consider fertilizing their ponds. But, according to Dr. Nathan Stone, Extension fisheries specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, fertilization may not even be necessary at all. Stone says that fertilization is only really essential if owners are trying to cultivate more fish or if the pond is not already fertile. In fact, fertilizing a pond that already has weed problems can cause more problems. “Fertilizing when nuisance weeds are already established is like throwing gasoline on a fire,” Dr. Stone said. “If fish in ponds will be fed, usually there is no need to fertilize, as the uneaten feed and fish wastes will serve as fertilizer. While some increase in fertility may be beneficial, too many nutrients lead to dense algae blooms, oxygen depletions and even fish kills.”
Even though the grass may be growing in the pastures, farmers may want to hold back on letting cows graze. With the grass being weak and thin from the winter, it is good to let it grow back a little before grazing. “Wait for grass to reach a minimum 4 inches of new growth. More is better” Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension forage specialist said. By giving the grass in the pasture time to grow and regain strength, farmers may see long-term benefits. Grazing too early can cause farmers to have to reseed their pastures. “Holding livestock off to let grass grow from 3 inches up to 5 inches makes a big difference.” Kallenbach said.
Rat and mice infestations in houses, barns, sheds and other places have been higher than usual in parts of Texas this year. Rachel Bauer, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources for Bastrop County has an explanation as to why this is. “Some homeowners are being invaded by mice and field rats which are thriving in the burned-out areas recovering from the wildfires, in part because there are very few predators,” Bauer said. “And with the regrowth of vegetation, the rats and mice have had an ample food source and are reproducing quickly.” This can cause problems, with contamination of foods, property damage, and possible fires. How should people go about solving this rat problem? “An integrated approach to rodent management is the best,” Bruce Leland, assistant director for Wildlife Services, San Antonio said. “A program using rodenticides and traps, removal of shelter, removal of food and water, and rat-proofing is most effective.”
Clemson University focuses on educating students on sustainability and how it applies to the environment. Clemson faculty members have had the chance to publish their experiences in the International Journal of Sustainability of Higher Education. “Our pedagogical approach invites students and faculty to venture out of their disciplinary silos to explore, together, the complex and continually evolving causes and consequences of environmental challenges,” said Catherine Mobley, lead author on the paper and professor in Clemson’s sociology and anthropology department.
University of Kentucky will be launching a new program focused on the awareness of environmental issues called Living Learning Program, LLP. A partnership between the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) and the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) will co-exist creating the Greenhouse at UK. “Greenhouse is for students with an interest in environment and sustainability — two topics that are transdisciplinary,” says Carmen Agouridis, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.
Mississippi State University has released some tips for summer southern gardening. Calibrachoa and verbenas, Calibrachoa is often referred to as ‘million bell’ and is a self-cleaning flower. Verbena’s start producing beautiful color in early spring that carries right through until fall. “Verbena is a great choice for our Mississippi gardens and landscapes; two selections crowned Mississippi Medallion winners: Biloxi blue and Port Gibson Pink,” says Gary R. Bachman, MSU Horticulturist.
University of Arkansas held a Q&A session on the research discovered so far regarding the Big Creek research team and hog farm in the Buffalo watershed. More than 120 people attended the presentation, which included a breakdown of the methods being used. “An external panel will come in and review what we’ve done. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced, but we don’t know everything. … We are having people come in from out of the state that don’t have a vested interest in the farm,” said Andrew Sharpley, team leader and professor at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Researchers from New Mexico State University are proving that cotton can be used for more than fabric. They are currently using cottonseed, the byproduct of cotton, for human consumption and for aquaculture feed. By finding new uses for cottonseed, it will increase the profitability of cotton. “When cotton is running 60, 70, maybe 80 cents a pound for the lint, and if you can add a buck a pound or $2 per pound for the seed, then we’ve significantly increased the value of cotton production,” said Tracey Carrillo, assistant director of NMSU campus farm operations. The researchers are conducting a study in which they use the cottonseed as an aquaculture feed for shrimp, as opposed to fishmeal. “Commercial aquaculture feeds contain fishmeal, so they’re not as sustainable as a plant-based protein, because they’re basically taking fish from the ocean and making a meal out of that, and then feeding it to another fish,” Carrillo said.
The Asian fruit fly Drosophila suzukii, commonly known as the spotted wing drosophila, has landed in New Mexico, and poses a problem for soft fruit farmers. The fly lays its eggs in fruits such as grapes, strawberries, blackberries, cherries and raspberries. The fly can also go through multiple generations during a single growing season, so they could build up very quickly. Tessa Grasswitz, NMSU Extension integrated pest management specialist says that the pesticides that are being used in other states on the fly are not available yet in New Mexico, and until the pesticide is registered in New Mexico, growers don’t have many options. “The spotted wing drosophila has destroyed existing integrated pest management programs for native pests of soft fruit crops in other states,” she said. “I am working with manufacturers to get some of the key pesticides registered with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture so that our growers have more control options.” Read more here!
According to soil samples from North Dakota done by NDSU Extension Service, 21 percent of soil is at moderate to high risk of wheat midge infestation. The wheat midge population has gone up four times within the last year. “The increase in wheat midge populations may be attributed to the increase in soil moisture during spring into June, which favors wheat midge development,” Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University Extension Service entomologist said. Knodel says the best way to prevent the infestations is to field scout. “It plays an important role in keeping wheat midge controlled naturally during most years,” Knodel says.
Not many livestock owners are thinking about weeds in their pastures around this time, but according to Dr. David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, now is the time. “Weed control can be an effective way to increase production by improving forage availability,” says Dr. Fernandez. Weeds can be toxic and indigestible to livestock and can make them sick. The weeds can also outgrow the pasture grasses that are healthy for the livestock, which can decrease feed for them. Some of the weeds can contain thorns, which can lead to injuries in the livestock. Some ways to control these weeds are through grazing and mowing.
If you have ever seen a truck driving down the road with a herd of cattle in the back, you might have also been nervous about what were to happen if the truck crashed. Dave Workman, WVU Extension agent, has teamed up with Hardy County, and Jerry Yates, manager of the Davis College’s Reymann Memorial Farm to set up the Bovine Emergency Response Plan, also known as the BERP. “The Bovine Emergency Response Plan developed a framework for local emergency responders and law enforcement to more appropriately address accidents involving cattle transport vehicles,” Workman said. They have started training sessions that have drawn audiences such as law enforcers, firefighters, emergency responders, veterinarians, and livestock industry employees. The plan includes standardized procedures for when first responders arrive at the scene and training on how to handle each situation.
New Mexico State University researchers are finding ways to use plastic beverage bottles as nursery seedling containers in developing countries. Owen Burney, NMSU assistant professor and superintendent of the John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center, was a part of a project in Kabul, Afghanistan that used discarded plastic beverage bottles to grow forest seedlings. “Discarded plastic beverage bottles are a major problem around the world,” Burney said. “If this study proves successful, it is a positive step in reducing the impacts of plastic bottles on the environment not only in developing countries, but industrialized nations as well.”
Woodland areas in Kansas have had a significant increase over the years, which has yielded many benefits. According to Bob Atchison, Kansas State University forester with the Kansas Forest Service, these benefits include cleaner air, wildlife habitat, improved water quality and economic gains for the state. With the advantages that increasing woodlands areas bring, forests may be at danger without appropriate woodland care. Because 95 percent of the forests in Kansas are privately owned, Atchison urges for people to become self-educated on woodland care.
University of Illinois Extension is offering suggestions to home orchardists who “should be planning their winter pruning while their apple trees remain dormant before the sap starts to flow for 2014.” Pruning water sprouts and other branches will enable trees to be more productive. “The goal of pruning is to balance vegetative growth with reproductive growth.” Another key behavior is spraying dormant oils to manage insect eggs. Applying these oils before spring begins allows for the most efficacy.
Researchers from the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources are hoping to improve runoff strategies for farmers by analyzing water samples in the Gulf of Mexico. Since a large portion of crops are grown near the Mississippi River basin, chemicals used by farmers end up downstream and lead to various negative effects for animal and plant life in the Gulf. “After [they] collect [their] data, [they] can work with farmers to create better ways to mitigate runoff, sediment and nutrient losses.” Since solutions will not be applicable everywhere, multiple areas will be tested.
While many people enjoy having houseplants, not many people understand the exact specifications that plants need to thrive if they are not in the wild. David Trinklein, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension, explains that light and humidity are the two most important things that plants need, and that people don’t give enough of. “Unfortunately, the most colorful houseplants usually have very high light needs,” Trinklein said.
Researchers from the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have figured out a way to measure nitrate levels in soil in real time with an infrared sensor. “Nitrate measurement is especially important because it is the dominant available form of nitrogen for growing crops, but is very mobile in the soil.” The newly developed technology is quicker and more accurate than other available options. Next steps include testing different types of soil and designing a smaller tool.
Although the state hasn’t faced many devastating storms this winter, Kentucky’s trees in both woodland and urban areas are facing some trouble. These damaged trees are at risk for disease and rotting and loose branches pose a threat to safety. Jeff Stringer, an Extension specialist at the University Of Kentucky Department Of Forestry, urges precautionary removal of these trees prior to spring.
Purdue University Extension specialists want to warn Indiana homeowners about the potential for flooding once heavy snow starts to melt. In combination with rain, the snow and ice buildup can cause serious damage to homes and streets once the weather begins to warm up. “Runoff could especially be a problem because the ground is still frozen, possibly causing flooding in low-lying areas, basements, and small streams and creeks.” Taking steps to remain safe in the event of flooding and protect the home are essential to successfully dealing with the potential impacts.
New Mexico State University’s professor of urban entomology, Alvaro Romero debunks and confirms some of the myths about cockroaches. For instance, the myth that roaches will survive the end of the world is exactly that, a myth. “It is just a myth even though cockroaches can withstand 10 times more radiation than humans in case of a nuclear attack.” Romero said.
While it may be portrayed that feeding wildlife is not that big of a deal, it may have more consequences than we imagined. University of Arkansas Extension says feeding wildlife can cause animals to lose their natural fear for humans, causing them to become dependent on handouts. If one source stops feeding the animals, they are prone to go elsewhere for food, such as neighboring vicinities. Some animals will become concentrated unnaturally in one area where the feeding is occurring, which can cause disease and predation.
University of Nebraska researchers are paying special attention to the value of hay as a fertilizer. The nutrients in have value and recycling them properly can prove to be economically beneficial. Research teams hope that such findings will help to reduce fertilizer prices for growing crops.
Idaho’s Extension will be covering a wide range of topics including: nutrients for crops, research and most current news, at this year’s conference in Twin Falls March 6. Cover crops will be a hot topic at the event. Specifically, farmers will focus on how cover crops can help provide nitrogen and organic matter to soils, which increases fertility, as well as helps with water retention.
Alabama Cooperative Extension created a ‘doodle lecture’ video on why trees are important not only for their beauty but also for their contributions to our health, our community of citizens, and our economic stability. Alabama notes that tree benefits are passive and accumulate slowly, but are unacknowledged until they are missing. As a result, Alabama Extension shares this video to raise awareness on the important roles trees play in our day-to-day lives.
Penn State researchers remind farmers to take extra provisions so drifting herbicides do not create avoidable consequences on neighboring fields and farms. Researchers observed a wide range of effects — positive and negative — on field edges and old fields. Farmers are strongly encouraged to take precautions even with so much uncertainty from the variability of increased use of these herbicides.
There are 40 locations around Kansas where weather sensors are silently monitoring wind speed, air temperature, precipitation and more. This data is collected by weather stations that then feed it to the Weather Data Library at Kansas State University, to be archived and made available to the public. K-State is now increasing its resources devoted to gathering and recording climate information to establishing more weather stations around the state to deliver more applicable information for Kansans and others.
Extension researchers from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture are taking the necessary steps to determine the effects of manure management at a hog farm. By studying things like “the fate and transport of manure and bacteria,” the “application of manure as fertilizer to farmlands on the quality of critical water,” and “the effectiveness and sustainability of alternative manure management techniques,” researchers will hopefully gain a better understanding of the soil and geologic features impacted.
Mississippi State University Extension Service is working hard to protect honeybees from pesticides used by farmers. Since many beekeepers are located near soybean and cotton fields, the potential for accidental exposure is high. Extension is trying to solve this program with “a unified flagging system to be used throughout the state to identify hive locations that are near agricultural fields.” This way, pesticide applicators are more aware and can more thoughtfully apply their pesticides.
University of Wisconsin expert has shared a podcast that discusses the benefits of the cold temperature, specifically it’s impact on insects. The frigid temperatures and brutal wind chill may be a nuisance to producers but they are displaying some benefits in effectively decreasing agricultural pests. As a result, producers will see a reduced number of pests affecting their crops during the growing season.
While some scientists believe that the effects of grazing are contributing to the effects of climate change on rangeland, new research including scientists from Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Extension Service discredits that theory. For example, “Grazing is one of the few tools available to reduce the herbaceous vegetation that becomes fine fuel on rangelands.” In terms of vegetation management, the researchers believe that grazing is actually a vital tool.
Researchers from Iowa State University’s Landscape Biomass Project are studying how more environmentally friendly crops could be used to better protect the ecosystem. “Researchers on the project are assessing the amount of variation in grain yields, biomass yields, soil moisture and soil water quality among various cropping systems and landscape positions.” These new bioenergy crops are also being studied for their potential profitability and marketability for farmers.
Research from the University of California has “[indicated] that high levels of nitrogen may adversely impact native plants and, by extension, increase the risk of wildfire.” Measuring the amount of nitrogen in various locations in the Santa Monica Mountains enabled researchers to figure out that native plants are being squeezed out by certain grasses, whose properties lead to a higher likelihood of fires. The study’s ultimate goal is to “help the scientists better determine the ‘critical load’ when vegetation shifts, causing alterations to the structure and functionality of ecosystems.”
According to University of Florida extension researchers captive breeding may not be the best way to save the Key Largo woodrat. This endangered species has been driven to near-extinction by development. The Key Largo woodrat is vital to its ecosystem, and current housing developments are destroying their habitats. Unfortunately, UF research shows that even with a captive breeding program the woodrat will still be vulnerable to extinction.
A researcher from the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment is studying predator-prey relationships in animals. Through his work, “Christianson hopes to identify why certain species or populations teeter on the brink of extinction and what forces determine whether they live to flee or fight another day, regardless of where they fall on the food chain.” He hopes that the information gleaned from studying large mammals in Africa can be applied to various animals, including some in the US like elk and wolves.
Research from University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources in conjunction with the UC Cooperative Extension has illustrated the importance of cover cropping, no tillage, and other conservation practices in farming. They have “determined that farmers who use cover crops and no-till practices are furnishing still more ecosystem services.” Such behaviors “[improve] favorable soil attributes” as well as decrease the overall carbon emissions of the land. This research will hopefully encourage more farmers to embrace these conservation practices.
Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has released a new report detailing “farmer perspectives on climate and agriculture” as evidenced in watersheds. The publication covers topics ranging from weather variability to greenhouse gas emissions to soil studies. The hope is that “extension, government agencies, and private sector agricultural stakeholders across the region will find this report to be useful.” Those involved with corn and soybean production should find the information particularly helpful.
New research by a Montana State University agricultural scientist that was performed in Guam will soon be brought to Montana and tested. It was found that insects react to certain colors of traps differently and depending on the environment. Gadi Reddy believes that this information can be applied to common pests like adult click beetles, flea beetles, and wheat stem sawflies that harm Montana’s crops. This research is imperative to finding “eco-friendly control methods” for pests in Montana, the US, and internationally.
Experts from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension are offering suggestions for creative methods to recycle this year’s Christmas trees. By putting a little forethought and extra time into this repurposing, consumers can convert their trees into something useful like a fish habitat or mulch for gardens. Additional tips can be found on the link featured below.
Specialists from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension will be among those presenting at the 2014 Georgia Organics Conference on Jekyll Island, Ga. This year’s conference, Green Acres—Saving the Planet One Bite at a Time, will focus on the environmental impact of agriculture and how organic farming helps to restore natural resources. Noted as one of the largest sustainable agriculture expos in The South, the Green Acres conference will bring together More than 1,000 farmers, gardeners, health advocates, backyard gardeners and organic food lovers.
Purdue Extension offers resources to help homeowners cope with storm-damaged trees. According to Purdue specialists, homeowners evaluating tree damage due to recent storms will need to decide weather it can be taken care of by themselves, or if they require professional service. Safety is noted as the biggest concern when dealing with this maintenance and cleanup.
The population of Yosemite toads in California has been dwindling since the 1980s. Researchers from UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources are trying to find ways to reverse that trend. While keeping toads away from livestock seems a logical choice, researchers actually found that the wetness of the meadow where the toads live is more essential than avoiding getting trampled. “The toads use wetter areas and the cattle use drier meadow areas, which provide better forage.”
A researcher from the University of Missouri’s School of Natural Resources is helping ameliorate the impact of leather production on the environment by finding alternative methods and resources to traditional production. By replacing chemicals with certain probiotics, the company working with Missouri’s researcher is able to lessen their environmental impact of an industry that has not previously been known for its environmental responsibility. These new techniques allow for “improved leather quality and yield, reduced operating costs, reduced environmental impact, reduced odor levels, reduced water consumption and reduced processing time.”
Wildlife ecologist from Clemson University have formed a two year working partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, USDA Wildlife Service and Farm Bureau to quantify economic and ecological damages to the state’s agricultural and natural resources by feral hogs. This destruction comes in the form of disease, competition with other animals, decreased food and water supplies and soil erosion. The impact of this swine presence has also been observed in the state’s timber industry. The results from these studies will be published to provide southeastern farmers and landowners with effective management strategies.
The University of California, Davis, with help from several other research institutions, is taking great strides in the fight against a common fruit pest – the spotted wing drosophila. Introduced to the US in 2008 from Asia, the drosophila wreaks havoc on several species of fruit. UC Davis has democratized research about the pest’s genome sequencing through a public-access web portal in hopes that scientists around the country and world will be able to work together to weed out the pest. One particular hope for the research is creating specific DNA testing to check shipping crates to see if they carry drosophila larvae before they leave for the US.
The University of California Cooperative Extension is sponsoring a summit this January for those in the ranching industry to gather and discuss the challenges facing today’s rangelands. It is becoming difficult to maintain rangelands in today’s society due to the growth of “ranchettes and shopping malls… tree crops, vineyards and other types of agriculture.” The services and benefits offered by traditional ranches are at risk and need to be reinforced throughout California’s agricultural economy. The summit will cover how ranchers can improve their situations and utilize conservation efforts to spread their influence.
The value of soil as a precious resource is being celebrated internationally on December 5 as World Soil Day. The global celebration aims to draw attention to this non-renewable resource that provides the essential basis for food production as well as sustainability of health and the environment. As an economic driver of agriculture and chemical compounds, this celebratory occasion highlights the need for conservation and soil management more than ever.
Plant scientists at the University of Missouri are studying how plants utilize sugar to fight off diseases and insects. By using PET scans, researchers are able to artificially induce an attack on a plant and then monitor its reaction with its sugar supply. This research goes beyond the realm of just plant science. Its findings could one day be applied to food sustainability and pest management.
University of Delaware researchers have been awarded a grant to help them study the ecological impacts from Hurricane Sandy on various locations and the wildlife that inhabit those locations. Of particular interest are the black duck and Atlantic brant birds, which the researchers had information on pre-Sandy. This allows for post-Sandy data collection to see how a massive storm affects feeding and habitat loss. Information gathered from the study could help identify ways in which to prepare coastal habitats for future storms.
Scientists from Iowa State University are researching how to prevent the runoff of nitrogen from fields into bodies of water. Too much nitrogen runoff becomes a big problem, both ecologically and in terms of human health. One way they have found to reduce nitrogen runoff is the use of cover crops, which “can hold nitrogen in the soil.” The scientists also make note of the broader issues nitrogen runoff relates to, such as how managing it could affect agricultural economies. Solutions will continue to be studied, especially in relation to affordability for farmers.
On December 1, Europe began a two-year ban on selected pesticides predicted to be harmful to honeybees and other pollinators. Claire Kremen, a co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute lends her support to this initiative, suggesting that the United States join the ban in a recent entry of the UC Berkeley blog. As pollinators are vital to our nation’s food supply and the agricultural economy of California, Claire believes that the United States should establish itself as a world leader in championing sustainable alternatives to harmful pesticides.
Cornell University recently unveiled Cornell Climate Change, a new online resource for farmers, gardeners, students and others seeking the latest information on climate change. The website offers discussion forums, videos, news and events as well as climate change Q&A. The goal of the online resource is to educate the public with the knowledge on climate shifts in a way that can be viewed as applicable to their daily lives in order to start making changes. This website is set to facilitate engagement between Cornell experts and communities to begin developing and implementing solutions into practice.
A researcher from the University of Florida warns the southeastern region of the country to prepare for drastic weather changes, as the result of climate change, in his new book. The predicted effects of climate change include everything from heat waves to poorer air quality. This research is necessary and important, warning that the extreme weather events already occurring in the southeast is likely to get worse, and could also effect the region’s agriculture.
Ohio State University scientist Fred Michel has made sustainability a staple of everything he does atwork, in the community and at home. Michel believes that increased use of bioproducts and bioenergy can make a world of difference for the environment as well as the economy. In addition to conducting lab studies, Fred also collaborates with the Agricultural Technical Institute’s (ATI) renewable energy program to give students hands-on involvement in design and installation of solar energy systems.
New Mexico State University’s research on phytoremediation is paying particular attention to poplar trees to determine if they can help stop the migration of an underground plume of petroleum contaminants. Phytoremediation refers to the treatment of environmental issues, utilizing plants without the need for excavation or disposal of contaminated soil. Researchers have developed a long-term monitoring plan to observe plant tissue, soil and groundwater to test the effectiveness of these methods towards future agricultural production.
University of Kentucky is making a point to keep trash out of streams. With fresh water serving as an essential natural resource for every day use, it goes without saying how important it is to protect streams, rivers aquifiers and surrounding land. Trash accumulation in these channels can alter water flow and impact wildlife. UK Extension raises these concerns in an attempt to protect and preserve these vital resources.
The American agriculture industry is set to face unprecedented challenges from climate change. In response, Cornell University plans to utilize its Institute for Climate Change & Agriculture to help farmers tackle the challenges associated with changes in temperature and overall varying surrounding conditions. As many producers already experience the impact of climate change, further research and resource investment is needed towards these greenhouse and atmospheric conditions. The Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture serves as a central hub of research, education, and outreach to reduce the agricultural sectors’ collective impact on the climate, and help farmers to build resilience to climate change.
In an article from the Penn State University, researchers show how they have found that Queen bees show signals to worker bees to inform them about their reproduction status and quality. These results give researchers a better understanding about the quick decline of honeybee populations, hopefully the knowledge of these complex communication styles can help find solutions to the honeybee crisis.
University of New Hampshire’s Macfarlane Greenhouse Facility has received the highest sustainability certification standard from the Milieu Project Sierteeit (MPS) sustainability certification company in the Netherlands. This is the first research and teaching greenhouse to participate in the certification program, leading the way in facility sustainability and proving that it is both necessary and rewarding to go green.
The University of Kansas State`s Division of Agriculture will host a lecture on sustainable food production on November 19th. This event will give attendees insight towards environmental effects on the beef industry and will also discuss how to tackle the problem of food supply in the future. “Is Your Hamburger Killing the Planet” will be hosted by the Food for Thought student organization and offers a great opportunity for all to get involved in sustainable farming practices and discuss topics of concern with experts.
As the effects of climate change loom, the agriculture industry is working to find ways to adapt to its adverse consequences. Kansas State University is leading the development of climate-resilient wheat crops, with hopes to prepare these crops to the climate changes of the future. With yield in some climates already dropping due to these changes, Kansas State could truly be developing the crop for the future.
According to UC Berkeley experts, agriculture will decline in yield significantly in response to climate change. Extreme temperatures damage crops and place stress on producers for systems management and resource acquisition. In an article from UC Berkeley’s Breakthroughs publication details how climate shifts should be worrisome for future generations. As growers and economists hurry to implement adaptation strategies towards this looming concern, there is no question that the costs of climate change must be further discussed in order to limit further damage to the Agricultural sector.
According to Paul Vincelli, a plant pathologist at the University of Kentucky´s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, food production is not one of the main sources of greenhouse emissions. While industries such as electricity production and transportation have increasing levels of emission, the food industry managed to keep agricultural emissions on a consistent level while increasing production significantly.
On October 3rd the University of Georgia´s College of Agriculture and Environmental Science will host its Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The event aims to inform beginning farmers on topics such as: farming practices, composting, different sales opportunities and many more. Food supply poses a major issue, therefore events of this nature that promote agriculture and help make farming more efficient are crucial to national sustainability.
Oregon State University is in the process of creating miniature wireless sensors that will be attached to bumblebees and feed real-time data on their behavior. Due to their small size, the daily activities of bumblebees’ are unknown. OSU has planned to build sensors to show how these natural pollinators search for pollen, nectar and nesting sites. Gathering this evidence will help researchers better understand how these insects contribute in the production of crops that rely on pollination.
An Extension agent from the University of Georgia has discovered the tawny crazy ant in Georgia for the first time. The ant, originally from South America, has been found previously in four US states. The discovery comes with a warning, however, as these ants are attracted to electricity and travel in masses, which can cause issues with electrical circuits.
A team of researchers from University of Missouri´s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources have discovered a way that may reduce the required amount of nitrogen in fertilizer. The goal is to modify the way rhizobia bacteria interacts with crops to produce nitrogen in exchange for food from the plant. With nitrogen fertilizer costs amounting to $8 billion dollars annually, this discovery could have a massive impact in cost savings for farmers as well as providing benefit for the environment by reducing industrially produced nitrogen fertilizer.
On October 1st, the Ohio State University will host a panel on nutrient runoff and water quality with the leaders of three state agriculture and environmental agencies. The event will inform attendees about the effects of nutrient runoff, which can be harmful to streams and lakes and result in limited use of the water sources. With strategic problem solving and research, state agriculture and environmental agencies hope to work towards viable solutions to runoff.
Researchers at Clemson and North Carolina State have been working together to develop a sustainable agriculture curriculum, which will be fused with university teaching farms. This sustainable joint program will help future professionals in the agricultural industry understand sustainable concepts and apply this knowledge towards viable solutions. With an emphasis on sustainability practices, many see sustainable agriculture programs as key to addressing future food issues.
On October 3rd, Kentucky State University’s College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainability will be hosting the Agriculture, Food and Environment Day. This event will inform attendees about current topics in US Agriculture, such as local ranching, and emphasize the importance of Agriculture in solving many global issues.
A researcher from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, has found that the insecticide, neonicotinoid, has a negative impact on pollinator populations when applied to flowering lawns. With honeybee populations in crises, the increased mortality rate of bumblebees is one to be cautious of, he notes, as they are also key pollinators. In this article, Jonathan Larson offers solutions to using insecticides without harming bees.
The Department of Agronomy’s climate program at the Kansas State University has been honored with receiving recognition as an American Association of State Climatologists Recognized State Climate Office (ARSCO) for its leading research on climate issues. As the necessity for climate related research increases, programs like those at Kansas State seek to fill the research gap while educating and engaging their communities on a path to a more sustainable future.
Researchers from the University of Florida have concluded a study that examines decreases in biodiversity around farmlands. The results of the study emphasize the importance of maintaining biodiversity, especially around farmlands, as it helps keep these areas healthy and controls pests. Additionally, the researchers give tips on how to implement different farming and land use techniques to sustain farms while maintaining biodiversity in surrounding areas.
Iowa State University researchers have recently concluded their 19-month study that looked at the relationship between air emissions and swine facilities. Examining greenhouse gas emissions from a sow breeding, gestation and farrowing facility, researches sought to establish air emission values and lead Iowa agriculture to a healthy and sustainable future.
Jessica Reffner, a Kansas State University student has made the task of keeping toxic metals out of landfills in southeast Kansas her mission. In collaboration with K-State’s Pollution Prevention Institute, Jessica works with national and local hardware stores and lumber companies to make consumers aware of safe ways to dispose of products that contain toxic metals. This initiative is gaining a lot of momentum as the K-State senior works to raise awareness to surrounding communities, increase participation, and minimize hazardous releases to the environment.
Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, the USDA-NIFA director speaks at the NIFA Seminar. The lecture provides a global view of food and agriculture, the transformative technologies needed to meet future challenges, and discusses how USDA-NIFA’s programs and future priorities will participate in the development and adoption of those technologies.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.