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Environment

How much spring nitrogen to apply? Pre-planting weather may provide a clue

URBANA, Ill. – With the rising cost of nitrogen fertilizer and its impacts on air and water quality, University of Illinois researchers want to help farmers make more informed fertilizer rate decisions. Their latest modeling effort aims to do that by examining the role of pre-growing season weather on soil nitrogen dynamics and end-of-season corn yield.

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NRES graduate student will study bees in Benin thanks to Fulbright grant

Lauren Lynch is one of 16 Illinois students and recent graduates to win Fulbright grants to pursue international education, research, and teaching experiences around the world this coming year. Lynch is completing her doctorate in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and in wildlife and fisheries conservation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a master’s in natural resource management from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Producers and consumers must share burden of global plastic packaging waste

URBANA, Ill. – Plastic packaging waste is everywhere. Our plastic bottles, food wrappings, and grocery bags litter the landscape and pollute the global environment.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area twice size of Texas, consists of plastic waste from all over the world, carried by currents to converge in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. The floating waste breaks down into microplastics, which are consumed by fish and in turn by humans who eat those fish.

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Study: Proposed nitrogen fertilizer policies could protect farmer profits, environment

URBANA, Ill. – Nitrogen fertilizer has major implications for crop yields and environmental health, specifically water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal and state governments have shied away from regulating nitrogen fertilizer use, but voluntary and incentives-based programs have not been particularly successful; the oxygen-starved “dead zone” in the Gulf remains much larger than goals set by the federal-state Hypoxia Task Force.

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Sandy Dall’erba receives Fulbright award towards global water conservation

URBANA, Ill. – Sandy Dall’erba, professor of agricultural and consumer economics and co-founder of the Center for Climate, Regional, Environmental and Trade Economics (CREATE) at the University of Illinois, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award for the 2022-2023 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

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Bat box design, placement matter for energy balance in endangered bats

URBANA, Ill. – Imagine if you had to catch every bite of your dinner with your mouth, while flying, in the dark. You’d be exhausted, and probably pretty hungry. Though some bats go for sedentary insects, most catch their food on the wing every single night. Let that sink in.

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5 Questions: ACE student helps promote sustainability, combat food insecurity

This week’s 5 Questions Friday features Jenna Schaefer, ACE major with environmental science focus

Where did you grow up? Do you have an agriculture background? If so, please describe.

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Climate change demands near perfect weed control in soybean

URBANA, Ill. – Growing crops in a changing climate is tough enough, but when weeds factor in, soybean yields take a massive hit. That’s according to new research from the University of Illinois and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and it means farmers will need to achieve greater weed control than ever to avoid yield loss.

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Protected tropical forest sees major bird declines over 40 years

URBANA, Ill. – Deep in a Panamanian rain forest, bird populations have been quietly declining for 44 years. A new University of Illinois-led study shows a whopping 70% of understory bird species declined in the forest between 1977 and 2020. And the vast majority of those are down by half or more.

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How do we solve the problem of agricultural nutrient runoff?

Agricultural runoff from Midwestern farms is a major contributor to a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen, phosphorous and other farm nutrients drain into the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf, spurring algae to overpopulate and suffocating other aquatic life. Illinois is a main culprit in this ongoing environmental blight. News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates spoke with U. of I.

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