Research

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is honoring six Iowa State University researchers, including our Dr. Kan Wang.

Kan has been named to this year’s class of 489 AAAS Fellows “because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications,” the association announced today.

Kan is the Global Professor in Biotechnology in the department of agronomy and co-director of the Crop Bioengineering Center, "for advances in genetic engineering in plants using Agrobacterium tumefaciens." 

Seed banks across the globe store and preserve the genetic diversity of millions of varieties of crops. This massive collection of genetic material ensures crop breeders access to a wealth of genetics with which to breed crops that yield better or resist stress and disease.

But, with a world of corn genetics at their disposal, how do plant breeders know which varieties are worth studying and which ones aren’t? For most of history, that required growing the varieties and studying their performance in the real world. But innovative data analytics and genomics could help plant breeders predict the performance of new varieties without having to go to the effort of growing them.

Overexpression of soybean gene might lead to resistance from SDS and more

No matter if it is 50 acres or 50,000, crop producers must hone their management practices to maximize yield while minimizing costs. Any number of different pathogens or pests can derail a good season. Soybean farmers in Iowa know how devastating they can be, with some causing millions in losses each year.

Daryl Herzmann grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Iowa, and like most farmers, his days revolved around the weather.

"I was always frustrated by the forecast because we based our farming decisions on a two- or three-day forecast," the agronomy systems analyst said. "I decided I had to go to Iowa State and try to figure out how to fix this. That's where it dawned on me that it is not necessarily fixable, but it is a data problem."

The meteorology major began working with the Iowa Environmental Mesonet soon after graduation in 2001, providing better data to improve forecasts.

Agronomy faculty and graduate students had the opportunity to sit down with World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Rattan Lal for an informal conversation about agronomy and soil science. Tuning in virtually from the Ohio State University, faculty and graduate students had the unique opportunity to engage in discussion with the world renowned scientist.

Dr. Rattan Lal, native of India and a citizen of the United States, received the 2020 World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that restores and conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.

A new federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) will support Iowa State scientists and collaborators as they develop improved seed corn tailored to the needs of the rapidly growing organic industry.

The lead investigator for the four-year, $1,996,500 grant is USDA Agricultural Research Service research geneticist Paul Scott, an affiliate professor of agronomy at Iowa State. Thomas Lübberstedt, the Frey Chair in Agronomy and Director of the Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding at Iowa State, will partner on the project, along with Martin Bohn from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Angela Linarez from the University of Puerto Rico.

Graduate student Mitch Baum has been awarded the Agronomy Department’s Research Excellence Award for his work in quantifying the optimum planting dates in his graduate research lab.

Hailing from Bondurant, Mitch Baum originally came to Iowa State University like many others—to major in engineering. But the call of agronomy proved to be powerful, and Baum quickly switched majors. going on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and now pursuing his doctorate.

The practicality of agronomy research is what draws Baum’s interests.

Our. Dr. Fernando Miguez has been awarded a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant. These grants focus on big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive technologies needed to keep U.S. agriculture on the leading edge of food and agricultural production. These grants are awarded through the USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT).
 
“Big data and artificial intelligence will increasingly play a vital role in the future of agricultural technologies,” said Parag Chitnis, acting director of USDA-NIFA. “As we work to realize precision nutrition for consumers and enhance farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability, these predictive technologies will keep research and development moving quickly to provide the tools needed for success.”
 

A new federally funded project led by Iowa State University researchers will help farmers share data relevant to their operations with one another and improve production.

The Smart Integrated Farm Network for Rural Agricultural Communities (SIRAC) project recently received a three-year, nearly $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop technology that will allow farmers to pool data and share knowledge to guide responses to production obstacles such as weeds, disease and pests. The effort will start out as a small pilot project and gradually expand to hundreds of farmers. The multidisciplinary research team will pair innovative data gathering methods with machine learning to make the information easily accessible to farmers in the program, said Asheesh Singh, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and principal investigator on the grant.

A new study from researchers at the University of Minnesota and our Dr. Matt Liebman finds that diversifying crop rotations can greatly reduce negative environmental and health impacts, while maintaining profitability for farmers.

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