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Agriculture

Ag robot speeds data collection, analyses of crops as they grow

A new lightweight, low-cost agricultural robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, could transform data collection and field scouting for agronomists, seed companies and farmers.

 

Scientists seeking rare river crayfish aren't just kicking rocks

As far as anyone can tell, the cold-water crayfish Faxonius eupunctus makes its home in a 30-mile stretch of the Eleven Point River and nowhere else in the world. According to a new study, the animal is most abundant in the middle part its range, a rocky expanse in southern Missouri – with up to 35,000 cubic feet of chilly Ozark river water flowing by each second.

Would replacing food stamps with food boxes reduce hunger?

Swapping food stamps for food boxes would mean scrapping 'the most successful government program we have going today,' said U. of I. professor Craig Gundersen

Neuroimaging reveals lasting brain deficits in iron-deficient piglets

Iron deficiency in the first four weeks of a piglet’s life – equivalent to roughly four months in a human infant – impairs the development of key brain structures, scientists report. The abnormalities remain even after weeks of iron supplementation begun later in life, the researchers found.

Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees, study finds

When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

Many Midwestern retailers sell mislabeled invasive vines

Gardeners hoping to celebrate the beauty of American bittersweet – a native vine that produces orange berries in the fall and is used for wreaths – may be unwittingly buying an invasive bittersweet instead. That’s because many Midwestern retailers are selling oriental bittersweet with labels misidentifying it as the native plant, researchers report. These sales are occurring in stores and online.

Genomic study explores evolution of gentle ‘killer bees’ in Puerto Rico

A genomic study of Puerto Rico’s Africanized honey bees – which are more docile than other so-called “killer bees” – reveals that they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. According to the researchers, these changes likely contributed to the bees’ rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years.

Scientists: Expanding Brazilian sugarcane could dent global CO2 emissions

Vastly expanding sugarcane production in Brazil for conversion to ethanol could reduce current global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 5.6 percent, researchers report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report

Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say.

Some plants grow bigger – and meaner – when clipped, study finds

Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these “overcompensators,” as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry – think plant venom – when they are clipped.

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