Fresh from the Field, April 5, 2018

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Fresh from the Field is a weekly album showcasing transformative impacts made by partners supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                                 April 5, 2018

Success Stories 

Fresh from the Field NIFA USDA photo

Automatic Irrigation in the Field

Researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service were part of a team of engineers who created the wireless sensor-based decision-support system that may help automate application rates to specific areas of a crop field by using real-time data on pivots equipped with variable-rate irrigation technology.

The researchers who developed it call their innovative breakthrough the Scheduling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or ISSCADA. It could well be termed Automatic Irrigation, as the system allows “applying the right amount of water at the right time and in the right location in a field,” explained Susan O’Shaughnessy, an agricultural engineer.

NIFA supports this project through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the full story at Successful Farming. USDA photo by Nancy Davis.

News Coverage 

Fresh from the Field NIFA Impacts apple USDA ARS photo

Apple Fungus Spoils Food despite Pasteurization

New York is the second-largest apple grower in the U.S. and is the No.1 producer of processed apple products, such as cider, juice, and canned apples.

Given this appreciation for apples, consumers might be concerned by reports from food scientists at Cornell University of a fungus, Paecilomyces niveus, which spoils apple products even after heat pasteurization. The fungus also produces an FDA-regulated toxin called patulin, which is found in these spoiled processed foods.

A new study describes for the first time a new apple disease, Paecilomyces rot, caused by the little-studied fungus. Though food scientists have attributed P. niveus in foods to soil contamination, the study’s authors, doctoral student Megan Biango-Daniels and Cornell mycologist Kathie Hodge, now think infected apples may be the true source.

NIFA supports this research with the Hatch Act.

Read the full article at the Cornell Chronicle. USDA photo. 

The Library 

Fresh from the Field NIFA Impacts SARE grant USDA photo

Our Farms, Our Future

The theme of the NIFA-funded Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) 30th Anniversary Report is “Our Farms, Our Future.” Taken together, the thousands of men and women who received SARE grants and shaped SARE priorities over the years have one objective in common: making American agriculture stronger and more sustainable. “Our Farms, Our Future” highlights local and national SARE investments that contribute to critical areas as water conservation, grazing management, soil health, local market opportunities, rural development and the human dimensions of food production.

Read the “Our Farms, Our Future” report online. USDA photo.


Photo by Austin Smith University of Arizona graduates Fresh from the Field NIFA Impacts

Using Space-Age Technology for Down-to-Earth Agriculture

Similar to what Matt Damon portrayed in the movie The Martianastronauts can successfully grow enough food to sustain themselves in orbit or on another planet. Researchers in Antarctica have been doing the same since 2004 in an environment where the average yearly temperature is minus 56 F. One of the researchers involved in these extreme environment success stories says that local communities can also benefit from controlled environment agriculture.

Dr. Gene Giacomelli, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at the University of Arizona, leads an internationally recognized, one-of-a-kind research and education program at the university’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. Their studies and applications focus on the technical, and practical and business development aspects of designing, monitoring, managing, modeling and optimizing crop production.

Read the blog and watch the video online. Photo credit: Austin Smith.

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