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Crops

Illinois researchers find exotic sources of resistance to tar spot in corn

URBANA, Ill. – When tar spot – a fungal disease of corn capable of causing significant yield loss – popped out of nowhere in 2015, Midwestern corn growers were left scrambling to manage the outbreak with few effective tools. The industry has since made some progress toward management with fungicides, but many researchers agree resistance is the path forward for living with tar spot.

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Gene important in soybean protein content found after 30-year search

URBANA, Ill. – Soybeans outmatch all other legumes as the protein powerhouses of the plant kingdom, providing a key protein source for humans and livestock around the world. And now, after 30 years, University of Illinois scientists have identified the gene with the largest impact on seed protein in soybean.

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Illinois research shows how dicamba could be safely used in sweet corn

URBANA, Ill. – Many agronomic weeds are developing resistance to available herbicides, making them harder and harder to kill. With few effective chemicals left and no new herbicide classes on the horizon, farmers are going back to older products that still offer the promise of crop protection.

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Illinois soybean breeder named AAAS Fellow

URBANA, Ill. – Last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named soybean breeder Brian Diers one of its 2021 Fellows. The honor recognizes the contributions of researchers for the advancement of science or service to society.

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Researchers find tradeoff between water quality and emissions on the farm

URBANA, Ill. – With water quality guidelines compelling more farmers to act on nitrogen loss, cover crops and split nitrogen applications are becoming more common in the Midwest. But new University of Illinois research shows these conservation practices may not provide environmental benefits across the board.

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Powerful sensors on planes detect crop nitrogen with high accuracy

URBANA, Ill. – Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers transformed agriculture as we know it during the Green Revolution, catapulting crop yields and food security to new heights. Yet, despite improvements in crop nitrogen use efficiency, fears of underperformance spur fertilizer overapplication to this day. Excess nitrogen then ends up in waterways, including groundwater, and in the atmosphere in the form of potent greenhouse gases.

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Microbe sneaks past tomato defense system, advances evolutionary battle

URBANA, Ill. – When we think of evolution, many of us conjure the lineage from ape to man, a series of incremental changes spanning millions of years. But in some species, evolution happens so quickly we can watch it in real time.

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The heat is on: RIPE researchers show ability to future-proof crops for changing climate

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., U.S. —  The world is warming quickly with no indication of slowing down. This could be catastrophic for the production of food crops, particularly in already warm areas. Today, research from the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service shows that bypassing a photosynthetic glitch common to crops like soybean, rice, and wheat, can confer thermal protection under heat stress in the field. 

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Study clarifies nitrogen’s impact on soil carbon sequestration

URBANA, Ill. – Soil organic carbon is a cornerstone of soil health. It improves soil structure while enhancing water- and nutrient-holding capacity, key factors for any agricultural production system. To build it up, farmers incorporate crop residues into soils.

So why, despite decades of residue inputs, is soil organic carbon diminishing in corn production systems? Short answer: it’s the nitrogen.

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Tanzania field trial finds soil testing and subsidies can increase fertilizer use and maize yields

URBANA, Ill. – The right mineral fertilizers applied appropriately can alleviate nutrient deficiencies in soils and increase crop yields, but most small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have their soils tested to reveal these deficiencies.

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