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Soil studies can be helpful for border control

URBANA, Ill. – Underground tunnels have been used by warriors and smugglers for thousands of years to infiltrate battlegrounds and cross borders. A new analysis published in the Open Journal of Soil Science presents a series of medieval and modern case studies to identify the most restrictive and ideal soil and geologic conditions for tunneling.

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20 years in the making: Rotate corn for better soil health

URBANA, Ill. – Soil microbes are living, working barometers of soil health. They are responsible for turning atmospheric nitrogen into forms plants can use, and for releasing nitrogen back into the air. Farm management decisions undoubtedly affect these microscopic workhorses, but, until now, scientists didn’t have a full picture of how crop rotation and tillage influence the soil microbiome.

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Morrow Plots: Soil imaging collaboration between Beckman, ACES

A new research collaboration will shed new light on soil samples from the University of Illinois’ Morrow Plots, the oldest agricultural research field in the United States. The collaboration between the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute and the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences aims to develop new methods and models to study how different soil processes affect soil and plant health. Read more.

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Genes controlling mycorrhizal colonization discovered in soybean

URBANA, Ill. – Like most plants, soybeans pair up with soil fungi in a symbiotic mycorrhizal relationship. In exchange for a bit of sugar, the fungus acts as an extension of the root system to pull in more phosphorus, nitrogen, micronutrients, and water than the plant could on its own.  

Mycorrhizal fungi occur naturally in soil and are commercially available as soil inoculants, but new research from the University of Illinois suggests not all soybean genotypes respond the same way to their mycorrhizal relationships.  

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Consider soil in fall-applied ammonia rates, Illinois study says

URBANA, Ill. – Fall-applied anhydrous ammonia may not fulfill as much of corn’s nitrogen needs as previously assumed. According to a new study from the University of Illinois, the effectiveness of the practice depends on the soil.

The study used a “tagged” form of ammonia to determine how much of the nitrogen in corn grain and plant material comes from fertilizer, versus nitrogen supplied naturally by the soil.

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University of Illinois project offers free soil lead testing in Chicago

URBANA, Ill. – Chicago’s urban agriculture scene may be booming, but a hidden danger – lead – may lurk in the soil. The Chicago Safe Soils Initiative, a new project from the University of Illinois, offers free soil lead tests to home gardeners and urban farmers across the metropolitan region.

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Illinois scientists receive USDA NIFA grant to develop soil erosion evaluation tool

URBANA, Ill. – Two University of Illinois scientists received a $500,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop a computational tool that stakeholders can use for estimating and predicting soil erosion.

“Quantifying soil erosion is a very complex problem because of the variability in time and space,” says Maria Chu, assistant professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Chu is principal investigator on the grant.

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ACES PhD student Yushu Xia builds connections with French soil scientists towards managing nitrogen

The following are reflections from Yushu Xia, a PhD student in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, on her research project partially funded by an ACES International Graduate Grant: “Improving Agricultural Nitrogen Models for Nitrogen Management Assessment at a Field Spatial Scale.” Yushu’s advisor is Dr. Michelle Wander.

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Anthrax and Crypto: Prime Suspects in Water

June 5, 2003

Urbana - In Russia, scientists have found anthrax bacteria that are close to 100 years old still lurking in the soil. In its spore state, anthrax bacteria are tough, resilient creatures. This is why they have also become one of the most feared biological weapons today, said Benito Mariñas, University of Illinois professor of civil and environmental engineering.

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