Research and Tech Briefs June 2010


Research & Technology Briefs


Unprecedented Cropland Study Confirms Conservation Practices Work On Farms in Upper Mississippi River Basin

Conservation practices installed and applied by agricultural producers on cropland are reducing sediment, nutrient and pesticide losses from farm fields, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  More...

Cool Farm Tool

A public release version of the Cool Farm Tool Greenhouse Gas Calculator, a new greenhouse gas calculator for farming, is now available.  According to Unilever, it's easy to use and gives instant results that invite users to try out alternatives and ask 'what if' questions.  The University of Aberdeen, commissioned by Unilever, designed the tool for farmers, supply chain managers and companies interested in quantifying their agricultural carbon footprint and finding practical ways of reducing it. 

Study Demonstrates No-Till Improves Soil Stability

A joint Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-multi-university study across the central Great Plains, on the effects of more than 19 years of various tillage practices, shows that no-till makes soil much more stable than plowed soil.  The study was led by Humberto Blanco-Canqui at Kansas State University at Hays, Kan., and Maysoon Mikha at the ARS Central Great Plains Research Station in Akron, Colo. ARS researchers Joe Benjamin and Merle Vigil at Akron were part of the research team that studied four sites across the Great Plains: Akron; Hays and Tribune, Kan., and the University of Nebraska at Sidney.

Algae Put to Work

Algae may become a biofuel source in the future, but could be employed today to remove nitrogen and phosphorus in livestock manure runoff, according to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).  This may be an option for reducing nutrient delivery to the Chesapeake Bay and other water bodies.  More...  

Natural Resources Inventory Details Trends in Conservation Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released new data on soil erosion and development trends on non-federal lands. This latest National Resources Inventory (NRI), focused on the years between 1982 and 2007, highlights data suggesting that that soil erosion has decreased 43 percent over the past 25 years. More...

 Propane Heat for Weed Control

According to the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC), propane-fueled heat offers a chemical-free weed and insect control alternative for organic farmers and others interested in limiting the use of chemicals. To test the effectiveness of flame to control both grass and broadleaf weeds, PERC partnered with the University of Nebraska on an ongoing research project. More...

 Innovative Device Counts Corn Stalks in Experimental Fields

""To improve the process of counting corn stalks and gather other important information from agricultural fields, University of Illinois agricultural engineer Tony Grift developed an innovative device that eliminates the need for manually counting plants. Mounted with laser transmitters and an on-board computer, the machine allows for corn stalk counting to be accomplished with greater ease and enhanced accuracy.  Contact Tony Grift, 217-333-2854,

Phosphorus Recovery

Ostara unveiled a new wastewater treatment plant in Virginia that produces clean water, recovers phosphorus and turns it into an environmentally-friendly commercial fertilizer. Contact:  Ted Rossman  Video: (

Nutrient Management in Livestock

A team of researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is investigating whether feeding cattle low-protein diets might result in the animals more efficiently utilizing nitrogen in their diet and reduce ammonia emissions from dairy operations.  More...