Prashant Jha, agronomy, Iowa State, and Joseph Shaw, electrical and computer engineering, Montana State, are collaborating on a project that was funded by the ISRC in late 2019. The goal of their project, “Hyperspectral Imaging for Early Detection of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Soybean,” is to accurately map (drone-based) the location of herbicide-resistant weed biotypes in production fields using advanced optics and computer algorithms.

Greenhouse and laboratory experiments were carried out in 2020 to identify the spectral reflectance of different biotypes of waterhemp plants resistant to ALS inhibitors, atrazine, and/or glyphosate. Hyperspectral imaging and other measurements were taken using artificial light. More plants are being grown from two different species of pigweed (waterhemp vs. Palmer amaranth).

This summer (2021), Jha plans to mount a camera on a drone to collect data in soybean fields with confirmed herbicide-resistant waterhemp populations. This includes imaging herbicide-susceptible and herbicide-resistant weed biotypes at different growth stages to characterize classification accuracies as plants grow. Images will be analyzed to differentiate waterhemp from other weed species in a soybean field and to identify susceptible vs. resistant waterhemp biotypes. A neural network machine learning algorithm will be used to develop classification images for field-scale maps. Using neural networks instead of previously used support vector machine algorithms will improve classification accuracies from 80% to 99%.

Dewayne L. Goldmon (’91 PhD agronomy)
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Photo of Dewayne Goldmon

Findings from an Iowa State University research team challenge previous understanding of the genetic control of traits associated with a “smart canopy” in sorghum.

Leaf angle has been an important trait manipulated to enhance yield for corn and some other crops. Plants with leaves upright at the top and more horizontal toward the bottom are idealized as having a “smart canopy” leaf arrangement, predicted to intercept more light, boost photosynthesis and increase yields.

This approach has not been a focus for improving sorghum, an important cereal crop worldwide for grain and forage production with potential as a bioenergy feedstock. The new research from Iowa State, studying sorghum leaf angle patterns and their underlying genetics and physiology, sheds light on opportunities to increase sorghum production. The findings were published recently in the peer-reviewed journal, Plant Physiology.    

Dr. Fernando Andrade, an agronomy alumus in crop physiology, has been awarded a Houssay Prize for 2020, while also being awarded the Top Researcher in Argentina for the past year.

Congratulations to our Daniel Kohlhase, PhD candidate with our Dr. Michelle Graham, for being named a Brown Fellow.

Daniel began his research career at Iowa State University with an M.S. degree in Crop Production and Physiology under the guidance of Dr. Micheal Owen. Daniel’s research focused on investigating the genetics and genomics of HPPD herbicide resistance in waterhemp, an agronomically important weed that reduces crop production in soybean and maize. His first project focused on studying the genetic inheritance of HPPD resistance in a waterhemp population discovered in Iowa. His research was published in Plant Science in 2018 and has already earned 13 citations.

The North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) approved funding for close to $3 million for fiscal year 2021 for ten university-based projects. One of the proejcts includes our Danny Singh who will serve as co-PI with others on a project led by Leah McHale, The Ohio State University, titled “SOYGEN2: Increasing Soybean Genetic Gain for Yield and Seed Composition by Developing Tools, Know-how and Community Among Public Breeders in the North Central US” (This project will also receive funding from USB)

Additional projects on campus from our many colleagues include:

The researchers who teamed up to build ISOFAST (Interactive Summaries of OnFarm Strip Trials Tool) have received two-year funding via a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDANIFA) grant for a new project titled “FACT: WebBased Dynamic Data-Analytics Framework for OnFarm Research Networks.” Building upon ISOFAST, which received funding from the ISRC, the FACT (Food and Agriculture Cyber Technologies initiative) project will help to share and provide unbiased accessible analyses of agricultural research data.

A pair of Iowans, including our Dr. Brian Hornbuckle, helped to shape the future of NASA by evaluating the agency’s satellite missions and recommending which satellites should stay in orbit.

Brian Hornbuckle, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State; and Jun Wang, who holds the James E. Ashton Professorship in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the University of Iowa, both took part in a senior review advisory panel that evaluated 13 NASA satellite missions on a wide range of criteria. Hornbuckle and Wang were two of 13 scientists selected to serve on the congressionally mandated panel, which advises NASA every few years on which satellite missions should continue and which should be grounded.


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