IN THIS HARVEST OF HEAD LETTUCE THE FIELD
WORKERS CUT THE LETTUCE HEAD AT THE BASE, LIFT IT UP TO REMOVE IN
BLEMISH PARTS SUCH AS LOOSE LEAVES, AND PULLS A CELLO SACK FROM HIS
BELT, PLACES THE HEAD OF LETTUCE IN THE CELLO BAG, THEN PLACES THE
HEAD IN THE BAG, UP ON THE HARVEST RIG WHERE WORKERS FINISH THE
HARVEST BY SEALING THE PLASTIC BAG AND PLACING THE BAGGED HEAD OF
LETTUCE IN A CARTON. THESE WORKERS ARE EXPERTS AT WHAT THEY DO, AND
WORK VERY WELL AS A TEAM.
VIDEO FROM THE FIELDS
IT'S NOT CROP DUSTERS, IT'S AERIAL
APPLICATORS. JOIN THE INTERVIEW OF A HIGHLY TRAINED,
EXPERIENCED AND ACCURATE PILOT WHO LAYS DOWN THE CHEMICALS THAT
PROTECT FARM CROPS.
December 6th, 2013
Christmas Seals in the U.S. are 106 years old today. The first seals
in America went on sale in 1907 at a table set up in the Wilmington,
Delaware, post office. The idea was to sell special stamps to put on
Christmas mailings, with the profits to go to help in the fight
against tuberculosis. The goal was $300, and 10 times that amount
were sold. The next year, sales reached $135,000. From then on,
Christmas Seals have been sold nationwide and is the nation's oldest
direct mail fundraising campaign. Since 1973, these special stamps
are sold by the American Lung Association and have accounted for up
to 35 percent of its direct mail revenue. Individually Americans
contribute over $225 billion a year to charitable causes. Profile
America is in its 17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census
Farm Bill Extension”
The leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees say
they’re making progress on the farm bill - but House Speaker John
Boehner isn’t seeing that progress. On Thursday - during his weekly
news conference - he suggested the 2008 Farm Bill should be extended
for a month. Reuters reported that a House aide said the House could
vote next week to extend the now-expired farm law into January.
A FOODCHAIN RADIO
FROM MICHAEL OLSON
is a food selling for $40 billion a year, but there is really
nothing to it but a suggestion that really doesn’t mean anything.
And so we ask…
"Should any food
be labeled “Natural?”
This Saturday at 9am Pacific, the Food Chain Radio show with Michael
Olson hosts Stephen Gardner, Director of Litigation, Center for
Science in the Public Interest, for a conversation about “Natural”
Topics include what is “natural” food; why consumers spend an
estimated $40 billion a year on foods labeled natural; and why some
are trying to litigate natural off all food labels.
The Food Chain is available live
via the GCN radio network and delayed via MP3 FTP at
For clearance information, contact Michael Olson at
Testifies on RFS”
The Environmental Protection Agency hosted a public hearing on the
proposed rule to reduce the 2014 renewable volume obligations under
the Renewable Fuel Standard Thursday. The proposed rule would reduce
the 2014 RFS volume obligations for conventional corn-based ethanol
by 1.39-billion gallons. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Past
President Steve Foglesong was among those testifying. Foglesong - a
cattle feeder and corn grower in Illinois - says it’s time to look
at reforming the RFS and let the market pick winners and losers
instead of the government. He says NCBA supports the proposed rule.
While it’s a step in the right direction - Foglesong says NCBA
believes more work needs to be done to level the playing field for
all users of corn. Over the past four years - according to NCBA -
the average cost to grain finish a market steer has increased by
more than 200-dollars per head. Foglesong says these costs aren’t
sustainable for a segment of the industry that relies on corn. When
state governors were denied a waiver of the RFS in light of the
worst drought in over 50 years - he says it became evident the RFS
needs to be fixed.
(Click Here for Produce News)
Chris Bliley - Growth Energy Director of Regulatory Affairs -
highlighted the resounding success of the Renewable Fuel Standard
during a public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s
proposed rule to reduce 2014 renewable volume obligations. He also
outlined why the proposal would eviscerate the RFS - causing severe
harm to farmers, the biofuels industry and the nation’s economy.
According to Bliley - the RFS is doing exactly what it was designed
to do - creating jobs, revitalizing rural America, injecting
much-needed competition into the vehicle fuels market, lowering
prices as the pump, improving the environment and making the nation
more energy independent. Bliley added that the proposed volume cuts
fundamentally ignore Congressional intent of the RFS. He said the
program was designed to spur investment in renewable fuels - not
punish those who have invested while rewarding those who have
impeded development. Bliley said the proposal would also jeopardize
the tremendous success the nation’s farmers have seen as a result of
the certainty of the RFS with net farm income increasing by
51-percent and federal farm payments decreasing 57-percent. He said
now is not the time to retreat from the goals of the RFS. Bliley
said the EPA should move the RFS forward - not backward.
Since the inception of the RFS -
Bliley noted the ethanol industry has produced ample biofuel to meet
the statutory obligations of the RFS. He said the industry has ample
capacity to do it again in 2014 - stating that the statutory volumes
could easily be met if the oil industry would simply comply with the
original intent of the RFS and allow higher ethanol blends like E15
to be competitively sold to consumers.
Bureau's Fill Your Plate
Farmers' Market Listing to Make it Searchable
ARIZONA, December 5, 2013 -
The Arizona Farm Bureau's
Fill Your Plate, the online, searchable database of Arizona
retail farmers and ranchers, recently turned its static listing of
farmers' markets into a searchable database so visitors to the site
can now search for a Farmer's market near them. Arizona families,
chefs, and resorts have always had a place to go to search for
fresh, locally grown and raised Arizona products. Now the Farmers'
Market listing has the same robust search functionality.
"With nearly 100 farmers' markets
throughout the state we wanted our frequent visitors to
to have the same search capabilities for our market listing,"
explains Julie Murphree, Communications Director for Arizona Farm
Bureau. "We frequently update the farmers' market list; it just made
more sense to also make it searchable. If I'm in Prescott for the
weekend and want to search for available markets on my smart phone I
can now. Eventually, we hope to offer an app tied to our Fill Your
Plate website. But you can pull up the website now on your smart
phone and easily search for a nearby market."
"Thanks to new
technologies and innovations in farming and ranching, the economic
impact of Arizona agriculture has grown to a $12.4 billion industry
producing food, fiber and ornamentals," says Arizona Farm Bureau
President Kevin Rogers. "We are raising different crops than a
generation ago and directly marketing them to the public. I sell hay
directly to horse owners in the Phoenix area and our vegetable
producers package their products that go directly to your
supermarket. Fill Your Plate allows consumers to connect
directly to the producers. The success of Fill Your Plate for our
retail farmers means we're telling one part of Arizona's farm and
"Fill Your Plate
actually allows Arizona chefs and families to forge a relationship
with Arizona's farmers and ranchers,"
adds Murphree. "You benefit by knowing where to purchase
Arizona-grown and raised produce and products. From apples to
watermelons, and everything in between,
Fill Your Plate is designed to let you
gain the best knowledge of where your Arizona food comes from. For
our 160 retail farmers, it means a connection to our Arizona
families and chefs."
About Arizona Farm Bureau
Arizona Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization
dedicated to preserving and improving the Agriculture industry
through member involvement in education, political activities,
programs and services. Go to www.fillyourplate.org to meet
our 160 "retail" farmers and ranchers.
Conservation Practices Made Possible by Farm Bill”
A new report released Thursday shows voluntary conservation
practices adopted by Chesapeake Bay farmers since 2006 have
significantly reduced the amount of nitrogen, sediment and
phosphorus leaving cultivated croplands. The report is part of
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Effects
Assessment Project. It estimates that - since 2006 - conservation
practices applied by farmers and landowners are reducing nitrogen
leaving fields by 26-percent or 48.6-million pounds a year; and
reducing phosphorus by 46-percent or 7.1-million pounds. These
practices have also lowered the estimated average edge-of-field
losses of sediment by about 60-percent or 15.1-million tons a year.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the report demonstrates
that voluntary conservation practices made possible through the farm
bill can have a substantial impact on limiting nutrient and sediment
runoff from farms. He says these conservation efforts help clean our
soil and water, boost outdoor recreation that adds more than
640-billion dollars to the economy and ensure agriculture has the
tools to remain productive in the years to come. There is still more
that needs to be done - according to Vilsack. He says that’s why
it’s critical for Congress to act now to pass a farm bill that
provides the full array of programs and incentives to build on these
For the full report - visit www dot nrcs
dot usda dot gov (www.nrcs.usda.gov).
IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU!!!!!
Courtesy of the California Farm Bureau
Has New Salmonella
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has released a
Salmonella Action Plan. The plan outlines the steps
planned to address salmonella in meat and poultry
products. Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth
Hagen says far too many Americans are sickened by
salmonella each year. She says the aggressive and
comprehensive steps detailed in this action plan will
protect consumers by making meat and poultry products
safer. The plan identifies modernizing the outdated
poultry slaughter inspection system as a top priority
and includes the expansion of the 14-year pilot program
that allows federal inspectors to identify and test for
problems throughout the plants. Another part of the
effort is enhancing salmonella sampling and testing
programs - ensuring that these programs factor in the
latest scientific information available and account for
emerging trends in foodborne illness. In addition - the
plan outlines actions FSIS will take to drive
innovations that will lower salmonella contamination
rates. These include establishing new performance
standards, developing new strategies for inspection,
addressing all potential sources of salmonella and
focusing the Agency’s education and outreach tools on
“Extension Educator Clarifies
Hormones in Beef”
Perhaps you’ve heard it said that beef contains too many hormones.
But when you hear that - an Extension Educator with the University
of Nebraska-Lincoln says there are some things to keep in mind. For
one - it’s important to remember that all multi-cellular organisms
contain hormones. Some meat production systems may use hormone
implants to increase efficiency - keeping prices down and reducing
the environmental impact of production - which causes the meat to
have slightly more of the hormone estrogen than the non-implanted -
to the tune of 1.9 versus 1.3 nanograms per three-ounce serving. UNL
Extension Educator Bruce Treffer says hormones - when eaten - are
digested, broken down and largely neutralized so they don’t act as
hormones anymore. But even if they did - he says the 1.9 nanograms
of estrogen in implanted beef is miniscule when you consider that a
child’s body produces around 50-thousand nanograms of estrogen per
day. A non-pregnant adult female will produce 480-thousand nanograms
of estrogen per day on its own. Treffer also points out there are
225 nanograms of estrogen in a three-ounce serving of potatoes, 340
nanograms of estrogen in a three-ounce serving of peas and
two-thousand nanograms of estrogen in a three-ounce serving of
cabbage. So it doesn’t make much sense to blame hormones for our
kids growing faster and reaching puberty earlier. Dr. Frank Biro of
the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says body mass index is the
biggest single factor for the onset of puberty. Treffer says it’s
easy to blame hormones or just meat, or food in general for health
problems because the general public is removed from actual food
production and processing.
Video series addresses “superbugs” in meat
aware of food safety issues may worry about
“superbugs,” but the bacterium resistant to
all antibiotics that can cause a foodborne
illness is rare according to the latest Meat
RESEARCH IN AGRICULTURE
ARS scientists are helping catfish farmers increase production by breeding hybrid catfish—crosses between channel catfish and blue catfish like these. Click the image for more information about it.
|Listen to a podcast
Lending a Hand
in Hybrid Catfish Production
In the catfish industry, it's well-known that hybrid catfish—a cross of the channel catfish with the blue catfish—generally have better growth, higher survival rates and better meat yield than purebred channel catfish. Although production has increased from 30 million hybrid fry in 2007 to about 150 million in 2012, these fish are not easy to breed.
Thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists, producers are getting help learning how to produce hybrids. Using hybrids instead of channel catfish could increase their production by 20 to 30 percent.
Unlike channel catfish that spawn naturally, the hybrid catfish is a cross between two species that rarely mate with each other. Hybrid fry production involves hormone-assisted reproduction. Geneticists Brian Bosworth and Nagaraj Chatakondi in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss., work with their Mississippi State University colleagues at the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center to give hands-on training to farmers who are learning about the hybrid breeding process. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
In addition, ARS scientists study catfish nutrition, genetics and management practices to produce a better catfish, whether it's channel, blue or hybrid. Research includes improving hybrid embryo production by determining the effects of the calcium content of the water on the hatching success of eggs, and developing a method to identify poor-quality eggs before they hatch.
Geoff Waldbieser, a ARS molecular biologist at Stoneville, is developing DNA markers for channel and blue catfish to determine genetic diversity, produce pedigree populations and identify markers associated with important traits like meat yield and disease resistance. Also at Stoneville, ARS physiologist Brian Peterson is investigating the relationship between gene expression, catfish growth and immune function.
While great improvement has been made in catfish breeding, one goal is to provide research to help U.S producers grappling with a slow economy, high feed costs and fish imports from foreign countries. Studies are under way to determine desirable heritable traits, improve germplasm, identify crucial water-quality factors, and develop better production systems.
Read more about this research in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS scientists have demonstrated that giving interferons (proteins produced by cells to stop viruses) can be used to protect animals immediately against foot-and-mouth infection in the window before vaccination provides protection. Click the image for more information about it.
to Fight FMD (Foot & Mouth Disease)
Proteins called interferons are among the latest weapons U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are using to combat foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). These proteins kill or stop viruses from growing and reproducing.
Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit, located at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center at Orient Point, N.Y., have demonstrated that interferons can be used to protect animals immediately against FMD infection. This rapid protection gives vaccines time to induce the animal's immune response needed to fight the disease.
Interferons consist of three families—type I (alpha-beta), type II (gamma), and type III (lambda). Retired ARS chemist Marvin Grubman discovered that type I is very effective in controlling FMD virus infection. Pigs inoculated with a viral vector containing the gene coding for swine type I interferon and challenged with FMD virus were protected for five days.
To cover the seven-day window it takes for vaccines to start protecting against FMD, Grubman combined type I and II in an antiviral vaccine-delivery system, which quickly blocks the virus in pigs. In combination with a vaccine, this patented technology provided thorough protection from day one until the vaccine immune response kicked in seven days later.
These methods work well in pigs, but not in cattle. However, ARS microbiologist Teresa de los Santos, computational biologist James Zhu and Grubman have identified a type III interferon that rapidly protects cattle against FMD virus as early as one day after vaccination. In laboratory tests, disease was significantly delayed in animals exposed to FMD virus after previously being treated with bovine type III interferon, as compared to a control group that did not receive treatment.
In other experiments, the type III interferon treatment was found to be even more protective in cows that were naturally exposed to FMD, according to de los Santos.
ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.
Read more about this research in the October 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS scientists used an automated dietary survey tool they developed to accurately estimate how much sodium volunteers consumed as part of their daily diets. Click the image for more information about it.
Assessing the U.S. Population's
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists used an automated dietary survey tool they developed to accurately estimate how much sodium volunteers consumed as part of their daily diets.
The scientists, with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), found that the volunteers' sodium intake estimates were 90 to 93 percent accurate among men and women. Sodium intake has become a hot topic as public policymakers address regulatory proposals aimed at lowering sodium in foods. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine issued a report recommending that new national sodium standards be implemented by the federal government.
ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
Researchers at the ARS Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md., developed the Automated Multiple Pass Method (AMPM), an innovative surveying tool used to obtain information on the amounts of foods and beverages consumed by a survey volunteer during a 24-hour period.
Several major food manufacturers have long been implementing sodium-reduction strategies through self-regulation. The usefulness of proposed regulatory steps will depend on accurate and practical methods to monitor the U.S. population's sodium intake.
The accuracy of sodium intake was calculated as the ratio of reported dietary intake to that estimated from urinary sodium excretion. The results showed that the dietary sodium intake estimates reported by volunteers derived using the ARS survey interview method were accurate when cross-checked against the urinary sodium excretion data.
Results from this study are significant because they demonstrate that the dietary survey method is a valid tool for estimating sodium intake as well as energy intake. The current ARS national food and nutrient intake survey uses the automated tool for both in-person and telephone interviews.
The automated tool will continue to accurately estimate the population's sodium intakes from foods as food composition databases produced by ARS are routinely updated to reflect changes in the salt content of foods consumed, according to the study's lead author Donna Rhodes, a nutritionist at the Beltsville center.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Children who ate breakfast were better able to tackle dozens of math problems in rapid-fire succession than kids who didn't have a morning meal, an ARS-funded nutrition study has shown. Click the image for more information about it.
A "Plus" for Kids' Math Performance, Study Shows
Eating breakfast—or choosing to skip it—may significantly influence a child's ability to solve math problems, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded nutrition study suggests.Scientist R. Terry Pivik's work with 81 healthy children has indicated that those who ate breakfast were better able to tackle dozens of math problems in rapid-fire succession than peers who didn't have a morning meal.
Pivik directs the Brain Function Laboratory at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center, and is also a research professor in pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Both the center and the university are in Little Rock. In his study of 8- to 11-year-old volunteers, each child took two morning math tests, with a 40-minute break in between. Half of the kids ate breakfast during the break; the others did not.
During the math tests, Pivik used EEG (electroencephalographic) sensors to harmlessly record electrical activity generated over regions of children's brains that are involved in solving math problems. The sensors were fitted into a soft cap that the kids wore as they viewed simple math problems presented to them on a computer monitor, calculated the answer in their head, then selected one answer from among three onscreen choices.
EEG data showed that youngsters who had skipped breakfast had to exert more effort to perform the "mental math" that the tests required, and to stay focused on the task at hand, according to Pivik. In contrast, those who had eaten breakfast used less mental effort to solve the problems, stayed more focused on the tests, and improved their scores in the post-breakfast test.
Previous studies by researchers elsewhere have shown an association between nutrition and academic performance. However, the design of the Arkansas study had some important differences. For example, the researchers carefully controlled the time at which the kids ate breakfast, as well as what they were served. The study is apparently the first published investigation, with 8- to 11-year-olds, that controlled the time and content of the morning meal and used EEG technology to monitor brain activity while the children were solving math problems.
Pivik and nutrition center colleagues Yuyuan Gu and Kevin B. Tennal, along with Stephen D. Chapman—formerly at the center—documented their findings in a peer-reviewed article published in 2012 in the scientific journal Physiology & Behavior.
The research supports the USDA priority of enhancing children's health and nutrition. ARS is the USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
The study is described in the November-December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Baby's obesity risk: What's Mom's influence?
ARS scientists have developed a two-gene strategy that can boost production of the beneficial phytochemical pterostilbene in crops like blueberries that already produce it and also add it into crops that don't commonly produce it such as grapes. Click the image for larger verison.
Ramping Up Pterostilbene
A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists has developed a way to boost production of a beneficial plant compound called pterostilbene.
The discovery by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists enables crop species to produce or increase production of pterostilbene. Stilbenes are a subgroup of beneficial plant phytochemicals called "polyphenols." The approach could pave the way for ramping up levels of potentially healthful pterostilbene in crops that normally produce it, such as grapes and berries.
ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
ARS molecular biologists Scott R. Baerson and Zhiqiang Pan and chemist Agnes Rimando headed the study. They and plant physiologist Franck Dayan, a coauthor, are with the ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Miss. Another coauthor, ARS plant pathologist James Polashock, works with the agency's Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Lab in Beltsville, Md., but is based in Chatsworth, N.J.
There are two stilbenes—resveratrol and pterostilbene—which may possess similar purported beneficial health properties. During their work, the team showed that a previously characterized and patented gene called SbOMT3, which they had isolated from the sorghum plant, is capable of converting resveratrol to pterostilbene. They then built on that conversion activity by co-expressing SbOMT3 with a stilbene-synthase gene, AhSTS3, that had been isolated from the peanut plant.
For the proof-of-concept study, both genes were successfully incorporated into the chromosomes of two different model host plants, Arabidopsis and tobacco. The two-gene strategy generated transgenic plants that were able to produce pterostilbene, the authors reported. The study results were published in Plant Biotechnology Journal in 2012.
An ARS patent, issued in 2010, describes the ability of SbOMT3 to produce transgenic plants that express pterostilbene, and describes the two-gene strategy.
Read more about this research in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS scientists have developed a nearly 100 percent biodegradable kitty litter made from dried distiller's grains, left over from corn-ethanol production.
Potential New Use for Spent Corn Grains
Kitty litter that's nearly 100 percent biodegradable can be made by processing spent grains left over from corn ethanol production. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant physiologist Steven F. Vaughn and his colleagues have shown that litter made with these grains as the starting material may prove to be more environmentally friendly than popular but nonbiodegradable clay-based litters. After use, clay litters mostly end up in landfills.
Spent grains are also known as DDGs, short for "dried distiller's grains." A DDGs-based litter may provide a new and perhaps higher-value market for the tons of DDGs that corn ethanol refineries now primarily market as a cattle feed ingredient.
In preliminary studies, Vaughn's group tested "x-DDGs." These are DDGs that, after being used for ethanol production, are treated with one or more solvents to extract any remaining, potentially useful natural compounds.
The team's laboratory experiments yielded a suggested formulation composed of the x-DDGs and three other compounds: glycerol, to prevent the litter from forming dust particles when poured or pawed; guar gum, to help the litter clump easily when wet; and a very small amount of copper sulfate, for odor control.
The resulting litter is highly absorbent, forms strong clumps that don't crumble when scooped from the litter box, and provides significant odor control, according to Vaughn. He's based at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
The idea of using corn or other grains as the basis of an environmentally sound cat litter isn't new. But the Peoria team may be the first to extensively study the potential of x-DDGs as the primary component of a litter, and to make their results publicly available.
Their peer-reviewed scientific article about the litter appears in a 2012 issue of Industrial Crops and Products.
Vaughn did the work with ARS chemists Mark A. Berhow and Jill K. Winkler-Moser at Peoria, and Edward Lee of Summit Seed, Inc., in Manteno, Ill.
The kitty litter research is highlighted in the October 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS scientists and their collaborators have developed new garden- and dry-pea breeding lines that are resistant to Aphanomyces root rot, a disease that can cause crop yield losses of 20 to 100 percent. Photo, Rebecca McGee, ARS.
Developed for Release
New garden- and dry-pea breeding lines developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators may offer growers added insurance against Aphanomyces root rot, a disease that can cause crop yield losses of 20 to 100 percent.
The mold-like pathogen that causes the disease, Aphanomyces euteiches, infects the roots and underground stems of susceptible pea plants and other legumes, rotting them and causing stunted growth, lesions, wilted leaves and other symptoms. Fungicides aren't an option, so growers must either avoid planting in fields with a history of the disease or switch to growing non-host crops until pathogen numbers drop to acceptable levels.
However, avoidance and crop rotation may not always be economically feasible. Furthermore, breeding peas for resistance to Aphanomyces has proven difficult because multiple genes are involved, according to Rebecca McGee, a plant geneticist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
The resistance genes are also associated with undesirable traits, which cultivated varieties can inherit when crossed with wild germplasm sources, adds McGee, at the ARS Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research Unit in Pullman, Wash.
As an alternative, McGee, ARS geneticist Clare Coyne and other colleagues sought to develop pea germplasm lines that naturally tolerate the pathogen, but do not suffer the same ill effects as susceptible plants—particularly not significant yield losses. Coyne is with the ARS Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research Unit, also in Pullman.
The pea lines are descendants of an inbred population of plants derived from an ARS cross made in 1993 between the cultivar Dark Skin Perfection and germplasm line 90-2131. Besides their tolerance of Aphanomyces root rot, the lines were also chosen for their acceptable agronomic characteristics.
Incorporating the tolerance trait into elite varieties could prove especially beneficial to growers in Pacific Northwest and North Central states, where Aphanomyces outbreaks threaten the valued role that peas and other legumes play in cereal-based crop rotation systems.
Read more about this research in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS scientists are using GIS technology to map how nutrients, antibiotics and microorganisms from cattle feedlots can sometimes end up in nearby surface and ground waters so that cleanup resources can be better targeted. Click the image for more information about it.
Tracking the Fate of Feedlot Contaminants
with GIS Has Benefits
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers in Bowling Green, Ky., have found that a unique approach to cleaning up feedlot operations—the use of geographic information system (GIS) spatial mapping technologies to track how contaminants flow through the soil—offers its own set of benefits.
Cattle feedlots can produce excess concentrations of nutrients, antibiotics and microorganisms that sometimes end up in surface and ground waters. Cleaning up such damage is costly, and the question is how to apply resources to the right areas.
Scientists Kimberly Cook and Karamat Sistani with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Animal Waste Management Research Unit, in Bowling Green, along with collaborators at Western Kentucky University, used GIS technology to measure nutrients, bacteria and pharmaceuticals given to cattle that were found in soil samples collected from a 5-acre feedlot used to grow out weaned calves. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
The researchers analyzed the soil for nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorous, antibiotics used to treat cattle diseases and enhance growth, and microorganisms commonly used to indicate fecal contamination in waterways and soils: Escherichia coli, Bacteroides, and Enterococcus. The study was one of the first to simultaneously measure all three types of contaminants—nutrients, antibiotics and indicator microorganisms—and use GIS technology to map contaminant distribution patterns.
The results, published in the Journal of Environmental Quality (2013), showed nutrients, microorganisms and antibiotics all largely stayed in the feeding area at the top of the site's 4-degree slope. They were distributed in a similar manner with no distinct flow patterns.
Results also showed that GIS mapping is one of the best tools available for determining how contaminants have spread, identifying contaminated areas and deciding on which areas need attention. The findings also suggest that cleaning up the site may be more manageable than previously thought, with efforts focused on remediation of the feeding and nearby grazing areas where contaminants were concentrated.
Palmer amaranth is an aggressive weed of the south that can grow at the rate of two inches a day and outcompete many crops. Photo courtesy of Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org.
ARS plant pathologist Doug Boyette has found a fungus that can be grown in a fermentor which may be able to control Palmer amaranth, a weed that is becoming resistant to some herbicides. Click the image for more information about it.
Fungus May Offer
Natural Weed Control
A naturally occurring fungus may prove useful in the fight against Palmer amaranth, an aggressive southern weed that can grow at the rate of two inches a day and outcompete corn, cotton, soybean and other crops for resources, potentially reducing their yields.
To make matters worse, some biotypes of the weed have become resistant to glyphostate herbicides. As a possible alternative, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Stoneville, Miss., are exploring ways to formulate Myrothecium verrucaria, a fungus which attacks Palmer amaranth's leaf and stem tissues, causing wilt, necrotic lesions, loss of chlorophyll, and other disease symptoms that can kill young plants and weaken older ones.
Studies by Robert Hoagland, Doug Boyette and others at the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center operated by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Stoneville, indicate Myrothecium can wreak similar havoc on biotypes of Palmer amaranth that resist glyphosate and other herbicides such as triazines.
To test Myrothecium's infectivity, the researchers used a filamentous growth stage known as mycelium and sprayed a special formulation of it onto two batches of four-week-old Palmer amaranth seedlings: those with glyphosate resistance and those without. They repeated the same procedure with six-week-old plants. All groups were visually checked for symptoms over the experiment's seven-day (168-hour) period and then weighed for reductions in shoot growth.
Seedlings were most susceptible, with all plants exposed to a full-strength application of the fungus showing disease symptoms. By 48 to 72 hours, nearly 100 percent had died. In six-week-old plants, symptoms progressed more slowly, but there was no significant difference in injury between glyphosate-resistant and glyphosate-susceptible plants. Both groups showed disease symptoms, most notably chlorosis, some necrosis, and stunted growth.
The findings, published in Allelopathy Journal, mark the first report of Myrothecium's bioherbicidal activity against a weed species with glyphosate resistance.
Read more about this research in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
ARS scientists and their collaborators have identified three compounds in tropical breadfruit trees-capric, undecanoic and lauric acids-that can repel mosquitoes significantly better than DEET. Photo courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org.
Studies Confirm Breadfruit's Ability
to Repel Insects
Breadfruit, used as a folk remedy in Pacific regions to control insects, is an effective mosquito repellent, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have found.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their collaborators at the University of British Columbia in Okanagan, Canada, identified three breadfruit compounds—capric, undecanoic and lauric acids—that act as insect repellents. ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.
In the study, chemist Charles Cantrell and his colleagues at the ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit (NPURU) in Oxford, Miss., and the University of British Columbia scientists collected smoke extracts by burning sun-dried clusters of flowers in the traditional method used by people in Pacific regions.
Capric, undecanoic and lauric acids, which are saturated fatty acids, were found to be significantly more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the primary insect repellent used against biting insects. For the first time, breadfruit was shown to actually work as a repellent, confirming it as a valid folk remedy, according to Cantrell.
These same compounds found in breadfruit and other folk remedies were shown to be highly active and the most repelling in a different study that examined a variety of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Cantrell teamed with Uli Bernier, a chemist in the Mosquito and Fly Research Unit at the ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fla., and scientists at the University of Mississippi to evaluate the compounds. The test involved cloth treated with different concentrations of compounds and worn by volunteers. Again, these compounds were shown to provide effective protection against mosquitoes.
Funding for these studies was provided in part by the Deployed War-Fighter Protection Research Program. The program focuses on developing public health insecticides and improving technologies to protect U.S. military personnel from disease-transmitting insects such as mosquitoes that spread serious and deadly diseases including malaria, yellow fever and dengue