Department

About the Department

Agronomy is focused on new and improved ways of agriculture. New methods of conservation. Improved soil health. New approaches to bioenergy. Improved water quality. Advanced genetic traits. The end goal is producing food, fuel and fiber in a more efficient and economical way for the benefit of people and the environment around the world.

We are applying science to advance crop production systems while protecting and improving air, soil and water quality.

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The Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University has funded 16 new water quality and nutrient management projects for 2019-2020.

“I am pleased to announce the latest round of projects represent more than $2.03 million in funding for water quality research,” said Matt Helmers, Iowa Nutrient Research Center director and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State. “The new grants bring the total number of projects funded fully or partially by the center to 92, a total of more than $10.7 million invested in nutrient-related water quality research since 2013.”

Iowa State University scientists are working toward a future in which farmers can use unmanned aircraft to spot, and even predict, disease and stress in their crops. Their vision relies on machine learning, an automated process in which technology can help farmers respond to plant stress more efficiently.

The hills were blackened. What was once a house, now a concrete slab.

Wildfires brought destruction to the lush hillside vineyards, rangelands and forests of Napa County, California, in the fall of 2017. Six months later, Jacob Wright, a junior in agronomy, found himself in the midst of a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) team dedicated to the recovery of the landscape.

“Often people just didn’t know where to start,” says Wright. “We would visit the property and point them in the right direction. We worked together with multiple agencies at both the state and federal level.”

Genetic engineering systems are critical tools to advance crop genomics research and related crop improvement efforts in the United States and worldwide. These tools have been limited, however, by the high complexity and low efficiency of current crop transformation processes.

To help overcome these limitations, the National Science Foundation has awarded $2.9 million to Iowa State University and University of Wisconsin scientists to develop the next generation of crop transformation tools and the crop geneticists who’ll put them to work.

One of the pressing questions this fall is when corn will reach maturity and if there is going to be enough time to dry down in the field. We have developed and released a corn grain dry down calculator that can help determine how quickly corn grain moisture will dry down in the field. The calculator can be applied at any location across the Corn Belt, from North Dakota to Missouri and from Nebraska to Ohio. Users select a map location and then enter a date and a kernel moisture content at that date. In turn, the tool projects in-field corn dry down. This tool can be used to estimate when a specific field will reach appropriately moisture for mechanical harvest (15-20% moisture) based on user input. The tool allows scenario planning by entering estimated dates and grain moisture for crops that are yet to mature compared to fields where crops have already matured.

Prepare for a long harvest season.

Planting delays in Iowa last spring could prevent a significant portion of this year’s corn crop from maturing on time, said Iowa State University agriculture experts. That means farmers may still have corn to harvest deep into November as they attempt to give their corn fields as much time to dry down as possible.

An early freeze could stop a portion of the corn crop from reaching maturity, and farmers will watch temperatures closely in the coming weeks, the ISU experts said.

The Hora brothers won Best of Show during the 2019 Iowa State Fair 'pitch-off' for their business Continuum Ag. Mitchell Hora is an agronomy alum and his brother David will join the agronomy family as a freshman this Fall. 

Continuum Ag was established by Mitchell as an agricultural consulting company offering soil sampling and fertility analysis. With a realization that traditional agronomic consulting only addresses the chemical soil component, Continuum Ag has differentiated itself by working with growers that take a more holistic approach, recognizing the physical and biological aspects of soil as well.

From the Continuum Ag website:

GDM has joined the Iowa Soybean Research Center at Iowa State University as an industry partner. In this role, GDM will have a seat on the ISRC’s industry advisory council, which provides recommendations on research priorities.

“Joining a renowned institution such as the ISRC provides us with the unique opportunity to exchange insights and acquire knowledge to develop solutions that better suit the American farmer’s needs,” said Ignacio Bartolomé, Business Director for GDM in North America.

According to Martin Sarinelli, GDM Research Manager for North America, “We are excited about this opportunity that will allow GDM to participate in the decision-making process related to research projects that will boost the delivery of solutions for farmers by using best-in-class technologies.”

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