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Environment

Emerging technology allows solar panels and agriculture to coexist, legal hurdles remain

URBANA, Ill. – Renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels are gaining traction, but are sometimes met with local resistance because they take up valuable space that could otherwise be used for agricultural production. Agrivoltaics provides a way of creating dual land usage, combining solar panels with crops or grazing animals in the same field. But this emerging technology faces regulatory headwind because the land will no longer be classified as agricultural.

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Study: Canada geese beat humans in longstanding territory battle

URBANA, Ill. – Canada geese collide with aircraft, intimidate unassuming joggers, and leave lawns and sidewalks spattered with prodigious piles of poop. They’re widely considered nuisance birds, and municipalities invest considerable time and money harassing geese to relocate the feisty flocks. But new University of Illinois research shows standard goose harassment efforts aren’t effective, especially in winter when birds should be most susceptible to scare tactics.

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Sweet corn sweltering in summer heat spells uncertainty for corn lovers

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.

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Gully erosion prediction tools can lead to better land management

URBANA, Ill. – ­Soil erosion is a significant problem for agricultural production, impacting soil quality and causing pollutants to enter waterways. Among all stages of soil erosion, gully erosion is the most severe phase, where large channels are carved through the field. Once gullies develop, they are challenging to manage through tiling; they require a more comprehensive approach along the impacted area. 

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CABBI team adds powerful new dimension to phenotyping next-gen bioenergy crop

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.

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Illinois report says native fish overlooked as invaders in U.S. waters

URBANA, Ill. – Rivers split across mountaintops and other geographic barriers may flow only a few miles from one another, but to the aquatic creatures in those waters, the separation could represent millions of years of evolutionary time. So, when an angler or a curious child moves a fish from one side of the mountain or one side of the country to the other, it’s a very big deal to the fish. Some may discover a competitive advantage in a new stream, potentially disrupting eons-old ecological hierarchies.

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3,300 hidden fungi coat soybean plants: New research explains significance

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.

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Bats protect young trees from insect damage, with three times fewer bugs

URBANA, Ill. – Bats help keep forests growing. Without bats to hold their populations in check, insects that munch on tree seedlings go wild, doing three to nine times more damage than when bats are on the scene. That’s according to a groundbreaking new study from the University of Illinois.

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ASC wins grant to quantify phosphorus leaching from stream bank erosion

A team of Agroecosystem Sustainability Center (ASC) scientists, including faculty from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Crop Sciences, was awarded a grant from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council to quantify streambank erosion across the state and its contributions to phosphorus loading of surface waters. 

Read more from the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.

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Best way to estimate costs for invasive plant removal? Get out and dig

URBANA, Ill. – Plants are designed to travel. They might not stand up and walk, but many plants produce seeds or other bits that can be carried long distances by wind or animals and start growing. While that might be great news for the plant, escapes like these can disrupt natural ecosystems and be costly to remove.

But just how costly?

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