Hexbyte Glen Cove Kelp for corn growth? Scientists demystify natural products for crops thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Kelp for corn growth? Scientists demystify natural products for crops

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University of Illinois scientists, including Connor Sible (pictured), are making it easier for farmers to choose biostimulant products to boost corn production with a new article breaking down composition, mechanisms, efficacy, and application considerations. Credit: University of Illinois

Corn growers can choose from a wide array of products to make the most of their crop, but the latest could bring seaweed extract to a field near you. The marine product is just one class in a growing market of crop biostimulants marketed for corn.

Biostimulants benefit crops and soil, but the dizzying array of products has farmers confused, according to Fred Below, corn and soybean researcher at the University of Illinois.

“Farmers hear the term ‘plant biostimulant’ and think they all do the same thing, and can be used in the same way at the same time. But that’s not the case. There’s huge confusion over what these products do, and when and how they should be used,” says Below, professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois.

To quell the confusion, Below, along with doctoral student Connor Sible and research specialist Juliann Seebauer, categorized available biostimulant products into eight classes based on their modes of action. Their review, which includes summaries of product composition, mechanisms, efficacy, and application considerations, is published in the journal Agronomy.

Generally, plant biostimulants enhance natural processes in plants or soil that in turn, boost crop quality and yield through enhanced nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, or stress tolerance.

According to the researchers’ classification system, half of the products are live microorganisms, including , , phosphorus-solubilizing microbes, or other beneficial microbes. The other half are chemistries or chemical byproducts from “formerly living” organisms, as Sible puts it. These include seaweed extracts, humic and fulvic acids, concentrated enzymes, and biochar.

It’s not always completely clear how or why biostimulants work the way they do, but Sible and Below say there’s a time and a place for each. It’s up to the grower to consider which biostimulant fits their goal.

“When we talk to growers, that’s the first thing we say. What is the problem you’re having, and what is it you’re trying to accomplish? Then we can suggest which product from this or that biostimulant category might be your best bet,” Below says.

Sible adds, “Sometimes farmers will try these products because the sales pitch sounds good, but they won’t get the response they want in the field. So they’ll walk away from all biostimulants. Those kinds of poor outcomes could be prevented with more information. That’s why we felt this was important. We’re actively researching these products to help growers understand what they are and how they work, so they can select the right one for their production system.”

Many of the products target nutrient management, with an eye toward reducing or replacing application of synthetic fertilizers. For example, soybean growers are familiar with nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, but Sible says new technologies, including gene editing, are enabling these microbes to thrive in the corn root zone as well.

“We see in our research that these products can help you be more efficient with your fertilizer,” he says. “It’s all about better management and stewardship of nutrients. If we can add something to our fertilizer plan to make that happen, it’s a win-win.”

Plant biostimulants aren’t new. Specialty growers have applied nitrogen-fixing bacteria, mycorrhizal fungus, seaweed extracts, and similar products for years. But as start-up companies have scaled up production or partnered with big seed and fertilizer companies, they’ve started eyeing the row crop market.

“All the big companies have partnerships in the biological world now, because it’s viewed as part of sustainability or regenerative ag. Some of these products purport to have soil health benefits, and that’s all the rage,” Below says.

Sible adds that some of the big seed companies are already coating seeds with live inoculants to give seedlings a solid start. “A lot of growers are actually using biostimulants without necessarily knowing it.”

Seed coatings are only one method of application. Below says including biostimulant application with standard management practices, such as in-furrow application at seeding or during an herbicide or fungicide pass, provides a free ride for the products.

“When biostimulants can go in with practices that are already being done, that makes their application cost-effective,” he says.

Sible notes the average cost of biostimulants is $8 to $12 per acre, but some of the microbial products push $20 to $25. Despite the expense, Below says a lot of farmers are willing to invest this year.

“Commodity prices are really quite high right now, so farmers might be thinking, ‘Why don’t I try something I normally wouldn’t try?’ We just want to have them try something that has a greater likelihood to be worthwhile,” he says.



More information:
Connor N. Sible et al, Plant Biostimulants: A Categorical Review, Their Implications for Row Crop Production, and Relation to Soil Health Indicators, Agronomy (2021). DOI: 10.3390/agronomy11071297

Citation:
Kelp for corn growth? Scientists demystify natural products for crops (2021, July 15)

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Mexican paleontologists identify new 'talkative' dinosaur species thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Mexican paleontologists identify new ‘talkative’ dinosaur species

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said Thursday.

The scientists said the conditions in which the dino was found explain its preservation.

“About 72 or 73 million years ago, a huge herbivore dinosaur died in what must have been a body of water full of sediment, so that its body was quickly covered by the earth and could be preserved through the ages,” the institute said in a statement.

The animal is called Tlatolophus galorum. Its tail was discovered first, in the General Cepeda area of the northern state of Coahuila in 2013.

As excavations continued, scientists eventually discovered 80 percent of its skull, its 1.32-meter crest and bones such as its femur and shoulder, which allowed researchers to finally realize this year that they had a new species of dinosaur on their hands, the INAH said.

“We know that they had ears with the capacity of hearing , so they must have been peaceful but talkative dinosaurs,” the statement said.

Paleontologists also believe that the “emitted strong sounds to scare away predators or for reproductive purposes.”

The discovery is still under investigation, but research about the ancient reptile has already been published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, according to INAH.

“It is an exceptional case in Mexican paleontology,” the INAH said. “Highly favorable events had to occur millions of years ago, when Coahuila was a , for it to be conserved in the conditions it was found in.”

The name Tlatolophus is derived from the indigenous Nahuatl language word tlahtolli—which means word or statement—and the Greek word lophus, meaning crest.

The animals crest’s shape looks like what the INAH said is “a symbol used by Mesoamerican people in to represent the action of communication and knowledge itself.”



More information:
Ángel A. Ramírez-Velasco et al. Tlatolophus galorum, gen. et sp. nov., a parasaurolophini dinosaur from the upper Campanian of the Cerro del Pueblo Formation, Coahuila, northern Mexico, Cretaceous Research (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.cretres.2021.104884

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Mexican paleontologists identify new ‘talkative’ dinosaur species (2021, May 14)
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from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-mexican-paleontologists-dinosaur-species.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove New method sees fibers in 3-D, uses it to estimate conductivity thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New method sees fibers in 3-D, uses it to estimate conductivity

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Each of the three methods used to visualize the fibers had pros and cons. Ray casting showed promise to become a powerful approach to estimate the orientation of fibrous materials with little curvature. Credit: Francesco Panerai, The Grainger College of Engineering

As a vehicle travels through space at hypersonic speeds, the gases surrounding it generate heat at dangerous temperatures for the pilot and instrumentation inside. Designing a vehicle that can drive the heat away requires an understanding of the thermal properties of the materials used to construct it. A recent two-part study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a method to create 3-D models of the fibers within composite materials then used that information to predict the thermal conductivity of the material.

“We used X-ray microtomography to create 3-D images that show the orientation of the fibers,” said Francesco Panerai, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at UIUC. “In most engineering applications we use made with carbon fibers, but the method we developed can be applied to any kind of fiber and any kind of composite.”

Panerai said microtomography is similar to getting a CT scan in the hospital, but with high energy X-rays that can detect fine details in microfibers, which are a fraction of the diameter of a single human hair.

“The images showing how the fibers are organized are much more than just pretty pictures—they are a description of the material in a three-dimensional grid. Now we can use the data from the 3-D grid to do simulations to compute for which you would otherwise have to do complicated experiments,” Panerai said.

In part one of the study, Panerai and his colleagues tested three different methods to visualize the fibers. “We found that because different materials are made up of different architectures, certain methods worked better with some fibers and weaves than with others.”

For example, the study concluded that the ubiquitous structure tensor approach showed very good performance on straight, random fibers, but failed to accurately estimate the orientation of a two-direction densely packed weave.

Another method based on the artificial flux demonstrated relatively good performance on two-direction woven samples, but it failed on straight random fibers.

The novel ray casting method showed promise to become a powerful approach to estimate the orientation of fibrous materials with little curvature. But, its main disadvantage is the high computational cost.

“Now that we can follow the direction of the fibers in space and determine the space between them, we can compute the material property, in this case its thermal conductivity, in three dimensions and have very accurate values.

“And, to measure conductivity experimentally, you’d need to do three experiments, one for each direction. Using this new method, we can compute the tensor and predict properties in the three directions far more rapidly and cost effectively.”

Panerai said this new method to visualize fibers and the proven ability to determine material properties can help re-engineer materials.

“We can use a very specific fiber architecture to achieve a certain property such as strength or conductivity,” he said. “Thermal conductivity is something everyone who works on high temperature materials tries estimate. It seems like a very simple property, but it is very hard to measure, especially for materials that are three dimensional. That’s what is remarkable about the power of this method.”

Frederico Semeraro, lead author of the study at NASA Ames Research Center, said, “Computing the thermal conductivity is critical to reliably predict a heat shield response. In addition, the methodology and numerical methods that have been developed are flexible enough to allow the computation of many material properties. A comprehensive understanding of the behavior of a heatshield will ultimately enable the optimization of its design.”

Part one of the research, “Anisotropic analysis of fibrous and woven materials part 1: Estimation of local orientation,” was written by Federico Semeraro, Joseph C. Ferguson, Francesco Panerai, Robert J. King, and Nagi N. Mansour. It appears in Computational Materials Science.

Part two of the research, “Anisotropic analysis of fibrous and woven materials part 2: Computation of effective ,” was written by Federico Semeraro, Joseph C. Ferguson, Marcos Acin, Francesco Panerai, and Nagi N. Mansour and is published in Computational Materials Science.



More information:
Federico Semeraro et al, Anisotropic analysis of fibrous and woven materials part 2: Computation of effective conductivity, Computational Materials Science (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.commatsci.2020.109956

Federico Semeraro et al. Anisotropic analysis of fibrous and woven materials part 1: Estimation of local orientation, Computational Materials Science (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.commatsci.2020.109631

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University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering

Citation:
New method sees fibers in 3-D, uses it to estimate conductivity (2020, December 1)
retrieved 2 December 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-method-fibers-d.html

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