Sensing what plants sense: Integrated framework helps scientists explain biology and predict crop performance

Scientists have invested great time and effort into making connections between a crop’s genotype and its phenotype. But environmental conditions play a role as well. Iowa State University researchers untangle those complex interactions with the help of advanced data analytics in a newly published study.

Mapping the Midwest’s soil topography

An Iowa State University agronomist is developing new computer models of soil erosion and topography changes, requiring both innovative big-data technology as well as painstaking validation of soil measurements in the real world. The National Science Foundation recently awarded Bradley Miller an early career development grant to support the research.

Study: Crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields

Diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields, according to a new study that analyzed thousands of previously conducted experiments. Diversification practices such as crop rotations and planting prairie strips can lead to “win-win” results that protect the environment without sacrificing yields, according to the analysis.

Grant to help scientists, industry and farmers harness biomass and manure to fuel farms

A $10 million federal grant will power a multi-institutional consortium aiming to create new value chains on U.S. farms. The consortium will innovate methods for farmers to make more efficient use of resources with an emphasis on the generation of renewable natural gas, improved rural economic outcomes and protection of the environment.

New test measures corn nitrogen needs with greater accuracy

A recently published study analyzed a combination of soil tests to gauge corn nitrogen needs more accurately than the standard chemical tests that have been in use for roughly 50 years. The research could result in economic benefits to farmers and improved environmental quality.