December 21 marks a change in season and one that can hit certain areas of the U.S. with bone-chilling temperatures.
As we transition to winter, we recognize research funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture geared to help further agriculture during this season. Bundle up and check out a sampling of NIFA-funded projects.
Pennycress: Weeding Its Way to Success
Cover crops are commonly used to protect bare crop fields to avoid soil erosion and limit nutrient runoff from the forces of wind, snow, and water. Researchers with the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences have found pennycress works well as an economically feasible cover crop. A common weed, pennycress can absorb nutrients such as nitrate and phosphorus to prevent them from washing off into waterways and degrading the water quality. And it’s hardy enough to survive Minnesota winters and protect the soil beneath the snow. Read more about this Hatch project here.
Cover Crop Management from a Bird’s Eye View
University of Delaware graduate student Jamie Taraila explored how utilizing “drone imagery to quickly perform stand counts, assess cover crop biomass nitrogen potential, and where cover crop biomass may inhibit corn seed planting and germination.” This technology will help farmers determine potential planting issues related to cover crop biomass. This Hatch? project was supported by NIFA and the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE). Read more on the findings here.
Using Living Snow Fences to Thwart Snow Drifts
With the winter weather approaching, some rural roads become dangerous for travel. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 13,650 car accidents resulted from snowy or icy conditions in 2017 alone. To help prevent snow drifting onto roads, University of Minnesota Extension evaluated strategies to keep the roads clear by utilizing living snow fences. This practice included planting natural shrubs and grasses, using piles of hay bales and structural fences, and leaving cornrows standing. Read more about this study here.
For more NIFA-funded research, check out the stories below.
- UNH Researchers Receive $1.2M Grant to Study Seasonal Soil Freeze and Thaw
- Advanced Model and Field Data Add Up to Better Cover Crop Management
- Diverse Land Cover Boosts Yields for Major U.S. Crops