Adults who have a passion for the outdoors – and are interested in sharing that with others – are needed statewide as volunteers in the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program.
U.S. farmers have long hoped to extend sugarcane’s growing range northward from the Gulf coast, substantially increasing the land available for sugar and biofuels. Several hybrid canes developed in the 1980s have proved hardy in cooler climes, surviving overwinter as far north as Booneville, Arkansas. But until now, no one had tested whether these “miscanes,” as they are called, actually photosynthesize, and thus continue to grow, when the thermometer dips.
After decades of effort, scientists are finally figuring out how insects develop resistance to environmentally friendly farming practices – such as crop rotation – that are designed to kill them. The researchers say their insights will help develop more sustainable agricultural practices.
It took decades of painstaking work, but research geneticist Ram Singh managed to cross a popular soybean variety (“Dwight” Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode and other pathogens of soy.
While different sustainability indicators have been developed at an aggregate level, less attention has been paid to farm-level sustainability measures. A study from a University of Illinois expert in production economics and efficiency analysis has developed technical and environmental efficiency indices for agriculture that can be used to assess sustainability at the farm level.
Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in the journal Cell.
A genetic study of papaya sex chromosomes reveals that the hermaphrodite version of the plant, which is of most use to growers, arose as a result of human selection, most likely by the ancient Maya some 4,000 years ago.
Subsistence farmers in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean are learning how to construct raised planting beds and install drip irrigation systems to boost their agricultural productivity, conserve water and perhaps even halt the rapid advance of desertification in some drought-prone regions.
When exposed to nitrogen fertilizer over a period of years, nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia evolve to become less beneficial to legumes – the plants they normally serve, researchers report in a new study.
A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass – the total material in leaves, stems, roots, fruits, grains and other terrestrial plant parts – than previously thought.
This growing season, crop researchers at the University of Illinois are experimenting with the use of drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – on the university’s South Farms.
An invasive weed that has put some southern cotton farmers out of business is now finding its way across the Midwest – and many corn and soybean growers don’t yet appreciate the threat, University of Illinois researchers report.
Teff, a nutritious grain, is a staple in Ethiopia. Its seeds are tiny – so small that some say its name was derived from the Amharic word for “lost.” Now, thanks to a creative educational initiative based at the University of Illinois, much less of the precious teff will be lost in Ethiopia.
Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.
Crops that produce more while using less water seem like a dream for a world with a burgeoning population and already strained food and water resources. This dream is coming closer to reality for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers who have developed a new computer model that can help plant scientists breed better soybean crops.
A new technique to fight crop insect pests may affect different insect populations differently, researchers report. They analyzed RNA interference (RNAi), a method that uses genetic material to “silence” specific genes – in this case genes known to give insect pests an advantage. The researchers found that western corn rootworm beetles that are already resistant to crop rotation are in some cases also less vulnerable to RNAi.
To keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for renewable energy, forest management policy in the U.S. must evolve to address environmental sustainability issues, says Jody Endres, a professor of bioenergy, environmental and natural resources law at Illinois.
Brenna Ellison, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics, says the combination of a symbol and a numeric calorie count on a menu is the most effective way to influence patrons to select lower-calorie items.
It has been almost 20 years since the first genetically modified foods showed up in produce aisles throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but controversy continues to surround the products and their regulation.
Agricultural researchers and health educators are using cellphone technology to help those in the developing world address some of the most challenging issues they face. The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), delivers educational materials in the form of narrated, animated videos to a global audience.
In a time of record-high food insecurity rates in the U.S., cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the former Food Stamp Program) is the wrong approach to fighting hunger, says Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.
A new study answers a question that has baffled researchers for more than 15 years: How does the western corn rootworm an insect that thrives on corn but dies on soybeans persist in fields that alternate between corn and soybeans? The answer, researchers say, has to do with enzyme production in the rootworm gut.
There is no sentimentality in Robert Switzers modestly titled new book, A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm. Switzer, an emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois, begins with a quote (from Victor Davis Hansons own book on farming) that the American yeoman farmer is doomed, and describes the internal and external forces that led to the decline and demise of his familys farm in northwest Illinois.
According to new models created by University of Illinois researchers, most studies of the" food versus fuel" debate so far have overlooked a key factor: selfish and possibly competing interests of the biofuel industry and individual farmers, who independently seek the most profit from their crops.
A new study co-authored by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, and Xiaoguang Chen, of the U. of I. Energy Biosciences Institute, quantifies the role that factors such as economies of scale and learning-by-doing played in reducing the processing costs of corn ethanol.
With the support of a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers will take the first steps toward engineering two new oil-rich crops.
High corn prices are leading many growers to plant corn every year and to overuse pesticides and other bug-killing technology to maximize yields, researchers report in a new study.
Land and marine iguanas and giant tortoises living close to human settlements or tourist sites in the Galpagos Islands were more likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria than those living in more remote or protected sites on the islands, researchers report in a new study.
Research into biofuel crops such as switchgrass and Miscanthus has focused mainly on how to grow these crops and convert them into fuels. But many steps lead from the farm to the biorefinery, and each could help or hinder the growth of this new industry. A new computer model developed at the University of Illinois can simplify this transition, researchers say.
A turning point in the history of life occurred 2 billion to 3 billion years ago with the unprecedented appearance and dramatic rise of molecular oxygen. Now researchers report they have identified an enzyme that was the first or among the first to generate molecular oxygen on Earth.
The brown marmorated stink bug scientific name Halyomorpha halys has been found in four Illinois counties and could be a major threat to fruit, vegetable and agronomic crops if it proliferates.
Growing perennial grasses on the least productive farmland now used for corn ethanol production in the U.S. would result in higher overall corn yields, more ethanol output per acre and better groundwater quality, researchers report in a new study. The switch would also slash emissions of two potent greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
More than 90 percent of Illinois corn producers polled at the University of Illinois Extension Corn and Soybean Classic meetings indicated that they planned to plant corn that was genetically modified with the insect-killing protein Bacillus thuringiensis this spring. Commercially available since 1996, Bt corn is resistant to European corn borers, western corn rootworm and other crop-destroying insects.
In addition to causing widespread flooding, the rains drenching the Midwest this spring may exacerbate another environmental problem phosphorus and nitrate pollution in the water supply that is causing a growing hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, presenting a danger to marine life and wildlife habitats, according to recent studies by a team of scientists from the University of Illinois and Cornell University.
The effects of climate change and population growth on agricultural land area vary from region to region, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers.
A team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois produce animated sustainable development educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.
Price spikes for gasoline, grain and other commodities could be magnified if lawmakers curb speculative trading in futures markets, according to a new study released today in conjunction with this weekends G20 summit.
African cowpea farmers, Indian street vendors, Peruvian llama farmers and many others will benefit from a new interactive, peer-reviewed information-sharing website now under construction at the University of Illinois.
The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that feasts on corn roots and corn silk and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the U.S., also can survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.
A wet spring in the Corn Belt and scaled-back harvest estimates in South America have helped revive grain prices that slid in the wake of a widespread influenza outbreak in the U.S. and Mexico, a University of Illinois economist says.
Just over a year ago, the U.S. ethanol industry was still in overdrive, fueling a wave of new factories to keep pace with surging demand for the corn-based gasoline additive. But the boom has since stalled amid a deep economic downturn that has stifled demand, one of many threats to the fledgling industry that were forecast in a 2007 study by two University of Illinois researchers.
The leaves of soybeans grown at the elevated carbon dioxide levels predicted for the year 2050 respire more than those grown under current atmospheric conditions, researchers report, a finding that will help fine-tune climate models.
Converting forests or fields to biofuel crops can increase or decrease greenhouse gas emissions, depending on where – and which – biofuel crops are used, University of Illinois researchers report this month.
A giant perennial grass used as a biofuels source has a much longer growing season than corn, and researchers think they’ve found the secret of its success. Their findings offer a promising avenue for developing cold-tolerant corn, an advance that would significantly boost per-acre yields.
In the largest field trial of its kind in the United States, researchers have determined that the giant perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus outperforms current biofuels sources – by a lot. Using Miscanthus as a feedstock for ethanol production in the U.S. could significantly reduce the acreage dedicated to biofuels while meeting government biofuels production goals, the researchers report.
Soaring energy prices will yield sharp increases for corn and soybean production next year, cutting into farmers’ profits and stretching already high food costs, according to a new University of Illinois study.
A costly deadline looms for many growers in the Midwest, as every day of waiting for the weather to cooperate to plant corn and soybeans reduces potential yields. Research indicates that Illinois growers who plant corn or soybeans near the end of June can expect a 50 percent reduction in crop yield, according to a University of Illinois agriculture expert.
University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer. The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution. Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process.
The routine use of antibiotics in swine production can have unintended consequences, with antibiotic resistance genes sometimes leaking from waste lagoons into groundwater.
Expectations of higher corn prices are leading some farmers to neglect or ignore integrated pest management strategies, and their behavior could undermine the very technologies that sustain them, University of Illinois researchers report today at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston.
Are soy products healthy additions to a person's diet, safe alternatives to hormone-replacement therapy or cancer-causing agents? The answer, according to University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor William Helferich, is, "It depends."
A $500 million research program announced today by the energy company BP will bring farm bioenergy production to Illinois on a grand scale, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Illinois will join the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in forming the new Energy Biosciences Institute, with UC Berkeley taking the lead.
The Illinois Natural History Survey has received a grant from the Conservation 2000 Program to assess seed banks at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County.
Biofuels advocates should not ignore the potential ecological side effects of crops being developed to produce such fuels, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says in an article being published today in Science.
Open-air field trials involving five major food crops grown under carbon-dioxide levels projected for the future are harvesting dramatically less bounty than those raised in earlier greenhouse and other enclosed test conditions - and scientists warn that global food supplies could be at risk without changes in production strategies.
Researchers have isolated two Chinese soybean lines that grow without the primary protein linked to soy allergies in children and adults. The two lines already are adapted to Illinois-like conditions and will be given away to breeders seeking to produce new varieties of allergy-free soybeans without genetic engineering.
A pig used for research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a home in history. Its DNA will provide the first sequence of the swine genome to be completed with the help of a two-year $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
To all Illinois residents: Be on the lookout for kudzu. This high-climbing, fast-growing weed, which is illegal to buy, grow and plant in Illinois, smothers existing vegetation and has been spotted in more than 30 Illinois counties.
Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a hybrid grass that can grow 13 feet high, may be a valuable renewable fuel source for the future, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say.
Size matters when it comes to meal portions in weight-loss diets, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And consuming convenient, nutritious frozen dinners may be a way to control portion size.
Three more pests - fruit tree leafroller, lilac borer and western bean cutworm - have been added this spring to the Illinois State Water Survey's Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring program, a Web-based tool that provides helpful information for the state's farmers.
More stringent federal standards for acceptable levels of arsenic in public drinking water go into effect next year, a prospect that has resulted in four new research projects on arsenic.
Components in grapes, including some newly identified ones, work together to dramatically inhibit an enzyme crucial to the proliferation of cancer cells, say scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The eye is greater than the gut.
An analysis of previously uncharted chemical contents, mostly carbohydrates, in U.S.-consumed mushrooms shows that these fruity edible bodies of fungi could be tailored into dietary plans to help fill various nutritional needs.
A study looking at chronic infectious respiratory diseases that affect most swine during their critical growing stage has shed new light on the reasons for restricted weight gain and reduced muscle mass.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is embarking on a comprehensive five-year study of the effects of soy isoflavones found in dietary supplements on various body tissues.
A recently discovered disinfection byproduct (DBP) found in U.S. drinking water treated with chloramines is the most toxic ever found, says a scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who tested samples on mammalian cells.
Cats, 77 million. Dogs, 65 million. Such are the estimated totals, as of 2002, of these popular companion animals living with people in the United States. Two-thirds of U.S. farms have dogs, but 90 percent of the canines are owned by city dwellers. Then there are the various birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, lizards, mice, rabbits and turtles, to name only a few, that share space in human homes.
Sediment samples dating back thousands of years and taken from under the deep water of West Olaf Lake in Minnesota have revealed an unexpected climate indicator that can be factored into future projections.
Antibiotics used on swine farms may stir controversy about their potential role in the rise of anti-bacterial resistance, but a new study says their use means significant production efficiency and a 9 percent boost in pork producer profits.
Although rising ozone levels already reduce soybean yields, a study of the crop grown in projected 2030 levels has harvested more troubling results - a 20 percent yield loss - say scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit photosynthesis in U.S. corn crops in the future by relieving drought stress, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
When it comes to beef, shoppers want low prices, little visible fat and good color and cuts at the store. At the table, though, they want tenderness, flavor and juiciness. A new study based on taste testing of 103 consumers also says that beef enhanced with a sodium and phosphate solution passes the dinner-table quality test.
New strategies emerging from research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are saving many of the state's vegetable crops from a fungus that nearly put an end to pumpkin and pepper production.
Food is not medicine, Barbara Klein says, but soy is nutritious and, by taking a whole-food approach, it can enhance the American diet. Helping food producers create quality soy products, developing marketing programs and educating the public about the benefits of soy make up the mission of the Illinois Center for Soy Foods.
Isoflavone-enhanced dietary supplements containing genistein may negate the tumor-fighting effects of tamoxifen, a commonly prescribed medication for women battling estrogen-dependent breast cancer, according to new findings appearing in the May 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research.
When insects feed on plants, they get nourishment and the plant gets damaged. The amount of damage has taken on new light, thanks to a new photosynthesis-measuring device that illuminates and photographs never-before-seen injury extending far beyond an insect's bite.
A reality of Illinois agriculture is phosphorus, a consequence of keeping soils fertile to produce food, feed and fiber. University of Illinois researchers say that around the state, levels of soil-test phosphorus range from a low five pounds per acre to an excessively high 1,000 pounds per acre. High levels often are associated with long-term manure or sewage sludge applications.
In a world of technological advancements, a simple wide-mouthed,
one-pint Mason jar is the foundation of a diagnostic tool that may revolutionize how farmers determine the nitrogen needs of their cornfields.
A computational study on nitrogen inputs to the Mississippi River Basin from the 1950s to the 1990s suggests that better use of the fertilizer - such as not over-applying it - could substantially reduce the amount of nitrates flowing down river without compromising crop yields.
Pollen from a Bt corn variety carrying a since-phased-out genetically inserted pesticide known as event 176 dramatically reduced growth rates among black swallowtail caterpillars in University of Illinois field tests, researchers report. Because of rainfall during the test period, researchers noted that the results are conservative.
By placing a nuclear gene in another location - its original home in a plant - researchers have successfully enhanced the production of an essential amino acid.
People are reinvigorating their ties to the land both practically and in the ways they think about themselves and their communities, a University of Illinois law professor argues in a forthcoming book.
Cattle weaned early and put immediately on high-energy finishing diets produce more high-quality beef with less waste fat than traditionally later-weaned-and-finished cattle, according to a series of research projects at the University of Illinois.
Visitors at this year's Agronomy Day will have a chance to see the original heart of agricultural research at the University of Illinois. A celebration honoring the 125th anniversary of the Morrow Plots - the nation's oldest continuously used agricultural research area - will take place at mid-day on Aug. 23.
Portions of 40 acres of University of Illinois farmland this summer are sprouting soybeans grown in the presence of carbon dioxide levels forecast for the year 2050. Next summer, elevated levels of ozone will join the mix in a first-of-its-kind experiment called SoyFACE.
Genes resistant to tetracycline have been found in groundwater as far as a sixth of a mile downstream from two swine facilities that use antibiotics as growth promoters.
It is 5 a.m. A Midwest farmer sips coffee in front of a computer.
Up-to-the-minute satellite images show a weed problem in a field on the northwest corner of the farm. At 6:30 a.m., the farmer drives to the exact location to apply a precise amount of herbicide.
Samples of potential wall-sheathing, sub flooring, tiles and interior car panels are seen throughout Poo Chow's Wood Engineering laboratory at the University of Illinois. The samples, however, are not made of traditional wood fiber; they contain varying blends of plastic (both virgin and recycled) combined with kenaf (pronounced kuh-NAFF), cornstalks or corncobs.
A team of proteins vital to fertility because of their ability to send signals that allow sperm to pass through an egg membrane has been isolated by researchers at two universities.
With about $2.9 billion in sales, the "green industry" in Illinois has blossomed, surprisingly outdoing traditional agricultural front-runners corn and soybeans and even the combined production of beef and pork, University of Illinois researchers say.
Legumes often fall far below popular grains and moisture-laden fruits and vegetables on the list of foods Americans eat to try to meet the American Dietetic Association-recommended 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day.
Did you hear the one about the retired farmer? If you did, you probably didn't hear it in Illinois.
A new molecular diagnostic method is letting University of Illinois crop scientists send a message to various fungi that inhabit soybean plants and fields, including the fungus that causes soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS): We know where you are and what you are.
Whether or not a drought materializes this summer, Illinois needs a water law to regulate the withdrawal of water from streams before there is a crisis leading to rationing and poor water quality, a University of Illinois engineer recommends. "At present, there is no surface water withdrawal law," says Wayland Eheart, a professor of civil engineering.
A respiratory virus that strikes hardest at young children and the elderly in nursing homes has lost a preliminary bout with a two-fisted enemy - genetically modified cherry tomatoes containing an edible vaccine.The match took place in lab tests at the University of Illinois.
Farmers who perceive scientists as "insensitive outsiders" may ignore their expertise and persist in agricultural and environmental practices that stand in the way of effective, community-based watershed management, says a team of researchers at the University of Illinois.
On the surface, the grass is green and crops are in good shape, but state water experts in late May urged community leaders in Central and Southwestern Illinois to realize that the truth lies 6 inches below the surface.
Honey, pass me the soybeans, please. Putting soy on the table is about to get easier. As early as this fall, some family gardeners will have homegrown soybeans available as finger foods or additions to salads, soups and stir-fry meals.
An experimental filtering system being tested in the corn wet-milling process is showing promise. The desired payoff, in the form of added value to corn gluten meal, could be more incentive to produce ethanol and an expanded animal-feed industry. In turn, a University of Illinois researcher says, farmers could see a higher demand for corn.