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Agriculture

NCSA supercomputers and ACES researchers fight climate change

A team of researchers at the Agroecosystem Sustainability Center (ASC) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been working to make it easier to calculate carbon credits for farmers.

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All in the planning: State policies working to fix Gulf nutrient pollution

URBANA, Ill. – Tackling nutrient pollution in the Gulf of Mexico is a big job, requiring coordination between dozens of states whose waters flow into the Mississippi. Although a 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency memo set a framework for each state to reduce its nutrient load, it was up to the states to set their own policies in motion.

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Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations extends RIPE funding with $34M grant

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations has awarded a grant of $34 million to the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency project, an international research effort led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In its 10-year history, RIPE has demonstrated large increases in crop productivity in replicated field trials on the university farm.

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Cover cropping up to 7.2% in U.S. Midwest, boosted by government programs

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.

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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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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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Illinois study: Which weather characteristics affect agricultural and food trade the most?

URBANA, Ill. – Changing weather patterns have profound impacts on agricultural production around the world. Higher temperatures, severe drought, and other weather events may decrease output in some regions but effects are often volatile and unpredictable. Yet, many countries rely on agricultural and food trade to help alleviate the consequences of local, weather-induced production shifts, a new paper from the University of Illinois suggests.

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Farmers in China, Uganda move to high-yielding, cost-saving perennial rice

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. 

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Rooting for ecosystem services: New U of I project goes underground

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.

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