URBANA, Ill. – Cover crops, with their ability to reduce erosion and promote soil health, are being planted across more Midwestern land than ever. That’s according to new University of Illinois research showing cover crop adoption reached 7.2% in 2021, up from just 1.8% a decade prior. The finding is the result of sophisticated satellite-based remote sensing efforts that accurately detected cover crops across 140 million acres of cropland and tracked their expansion over 20 years.
URBANA, Ill. – Few things say summer in America more than buttery corn on the cob, but as summer temperatures climb to unprecedented levels, the future of sweet corn may not be so sweet. New University of Illinois research shows sweet corn yields drop significantly with extreme heat during flowering, especially in rainfed fields in the Midwest.
Few of us stop to wonder how that slice of pumpkin pie made it onto our plate, but if it weren't for the Illinois pumpkin industry and plant pathologist Mohammad Babadoost, the classic fall dessert might not be on the menu at all. Back in 1999 and 2000, a devastating pumpkin disease threatened to wipe out the crop in Illinois - the number-one pumpkin-producing state in the nation - but Babadoost came up with solutions to not only prevent the industry's collapse, but to help it grow.
Miscanthus is one of the most promising perennial crops for bioenergy production since it is able to produce high yields with a small environmental footprint. This versatile grass has great potential to perform even better, as much less effort has been put into improving it through breeding relative to established commodity crops such as maize or soybean.
URBANA, Ill. – After more than 9,000 years in cultivation, annual paddy rice is now available as a long-lived perennial. The advancement means farmers can plant just once and reap up to eight harvests without sacrificing yield, an important step change relative to “ratooning,” or cutting back annual rice to obtain second, weaker harvest.
URBANA, Ill. – Septoria brown spot may be the common cold of soybean diseases, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely benign. The ubiquitous fungal disease can cause 10 to 27% yield loss, according to University of Illinois research. For many farmers, the obvious response is to fight back with fungicide, but a new U of I study shows Septoria can actually increase after fungicide application.
URBANA, Ill. – Decades of corn breeding efforts emphasizing yield have contributed to modern hybrids with shallower and less complex root systems than their predecessors. Because the breeding and selection of most modern hybrids has taken place in environments with high nutrient concentrations, optimal weed control, and soil moisture conditions, hybrids perform best under high input systems.
RIPE researchers prove bioengineering better photosynthesis increases yields in food crops for the first time ever
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — For the first time, RIPE researchers have proven that multigene bioengineering of photosynthesis increases the yield of a major food crop in field trials. After more than a decade of working toward this goal, a collaborative team led by the University of Illinois has transgenically altered soybean plants to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis, resulting in greater yields without loss of quality.
URBANA, Ill. – Urban agriculture is booming, but there’s often a hidden danger lurking in city soils: lead. A recent University of Illinois study showed universally elevated lead levels in soils across Chicago, an urban ag hotspot.
URBANA, Ill. – Like the virus that causes COVID-19, pathogens that attack crops change constantly to evade host immunity, or disease resistance in plant parlance. Sometimes, a single gene makes the difference between a resistant crop and one that’s susceptible. In those cases, the gene typically blocks the pathogen for a while, until the microbe makes a change.