AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
PREDICTION ABOUT SEVERITY OF CORN DISEASE LOOKS ACCURATE
Iowa State's prediction that this year would see the worst outbreak of Stewart's disease in Iowa cornfields is proving to be accurate so far. Researchers developed a computer model to predict outbreaks of the disease, which can damage susceptible inbreds used to produce seed corn and sweet corn. In severe cases, hybrid corn yields also may be reduced. The disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted by corn flea beetles. Mild winter weather like Iowa experienced this year is favorable for flea beetle survival in soil. The number of flea beetles reported so far this year has been "horrendous," says plant pathologist Forrest Nutter. "The beetles emerged two weeks earlier than normal," Nutter says. "Therefore, we could see four generations of the pest this year compared to three generations last season. Keep in mind that last season was the worst year for Stewart's disease in more than 30 years." The proportion of flea beetles carrying the bacterium also is higher this spring, ranging from 15 to 30 percent, he says. Contact Nutter, (515) 294-8737, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-2314.
WORRY ABOUT WEED CONTROL, NOT HOW SOYBEANS LOOK
When soybean growers see injury to their crops after applying herbicides, many automatically believe their yields will take a hit. Not so, says Mike Owen, ISU agronomy professor. In experiments across Iowa and Illinois over the last three years, researchers found early-season herbicide injury doesn't translate into loss of yield. "Ideally, we'd like to see no injury at all," he says. "But our results indicate the benefit from controlling weeds greatly outweighs any risks from herbicide injury." Owen led a research team that evaluated post-emergence herbicides for crop injury and weed control. At harvest time, herbicide injury translated into a minimal effect on yield in less than 3 percent of the fields. "If you reduce herbicide rates, or avoid a herbicide application due to concerns about injury, you may have nice-looking soybeans, but there won't be many of them," Owen says. The research, which involved more than 30 scientists in six states, was part of an ISU-coordinated program that studied ways to increase soybean yields. It was supported by Iowa and Illinois soybean checkoff funds. Contact Owen, (515) 294-1923, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0706.
MORE DIETARY PHYTASE COULD MEAN LESS MANURE ODOR
An eastern Iowa demonstration project focuses on the effects of using dietary phytase to reduce phosphorus in swine diets. Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytate in grains and oil seeds, making more dietary phosphorus available to the pig. Reducing the phosphorus content of hog manure can lessen the manure's offensive odor, says ISU Extension livestock field specialist Larry McMullen. The reduction in phosphorous also benefits cropland fertilized with manure. The Iowa Pork Industry Center is funding the two-year project, which McMullen coordinates with Kirkwood Community College. For more information, contact McMullen, (319) 462-2791, or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.
ISU NAMES CENTER FOR PLANT BREEDING PIONEER
Iowa State University will name its Center for Plant Breeding in honor of the late Raymond F. Baker. Baker, who died in 1999 at the age of 92, was an Iowa State agronomy graduate and long-time research director for Pioneer Hi-Bred International. As the company's lead plant breeder for 43 years, Baker is credited with establishing the scientific groundwork in the 1930s that helped Pioneer Hi-Bred become the world's largest seed corn company. Scientists within the ISU center conduct basic, long-term research designed to further enhance plant breeding programs in corn, forages, soybeans, popcorn, small grains and potential new crops. Their research is specifically related to selection methods, yield stability, germplasm enhancement and value-added traits, said Arnel Hallauer, center director and professor of agronomy. One of the center's goals is to strengthen links to the emerging areas of genomics, computational biology and the biological sciences, he said. The Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding is part of the Plant Sciences Institute and the agronomy department. Contact Hallauer, (515) 294-7823; Colin Scanes, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-5267; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.
CUBA TRIP EXPLORES SUSTAINABLE AND URBAN AGRICULTURE
A group of ISU faculty, staff and students and two Iowa farmers traveled to Cuba May 13-20 to learn about the country's sustainable agriculture and to explore opportunities for exchanges. In the early 1990s, Cuba switched from a largely chemical-based to a largely organic system of agriculture. Individual gardens in urban areas are important 6 percent of Cuba's food supply is grown in Havana. The visit was hosted by the Agrarian University of Havana and the Association of Agricultural and Forestry Technicians. Contact Mike Bell, Sociology (who coordinated the trip but did not travel to Cuba), (515) 294-2179; David Acker, International Agriculture Programs, (515) 294-8454; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0705. ISU faculty and staff who participated in the trip include: Lorna Michael Butler, Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture, (515) 294-6066; Ricardo Salvador, Agronomy, (515) 294-9595; Matt Leibman, Agronomy, (515) 294-7486; and Richard Wrage, Boone County Extension, (515) 432-3882.
ISU MEETINGS SET TO DISCUSS IOWA'S LAND AND ENVIRONMENT
One of the greatest challenges facing Iowa is how to preserve and protect Iowa's rich natural resources, while allowing the state's largest industry agriculture to thrive. Other concerns include the encroachment of urban populations on rural areas and the quality of Iowa's lakes, rivers and streams. ISU is sponsoring three meetings in which these concerns will be discussed: in western Iowa on June 13 at the Hitchcock Nature Area Lodge near Honey Creek; in eastern Iowa on June 15 at the Holiday Inn, Davenport; and in central Iowa on June 16 at the Marriott Hotel, West Des Moines. A new ISU publication, "Iowa's Land and Environment Serving Competing Needs," will be distributed. It includes a historical perspective of Iowa land use and conservation, and provides results of public surveys on wetland use and types of recreational opportunities preferred. Each meeting will feature different speakers talking about local issues. Contact C. Phillip Baumel, Economics, (515) 294-6263; John Miranowski, Economics, (515) 294-6741; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0705.
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