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CPSC in the News

A smiling woman stands over plants in a greenhouse. 
Genome sequenced for pesky pumpkin pathogen

In a new study, University of Illinois scientists, with the help of two undergraduate students, have assembled the first complete genome for the bacteria that causes the disease, Xanthomonas cucurbitae, and identified genes that are activated during infection.

“Assembling a complete circular genome means we now have the resources to better understand what's happening in the field. We can use this information to look at how the pathogen is spreading, whether there are differences in host specificity among sub-populations or strains, or how likely it is to develop resistance to chemical controls,” says Sarah Hind, assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois and senior author on the Phytopathology study.

After sequencing the genome, Hind’s group compared it to genomes from 12 other Xanthomonas species that cause diseases in a variety of crop plants like tomato, rice, citrus, and wheat. Surprisingly, given its penchant for creating havoc in the field, Xanthomonas cucurbitae had the smallest genome and had fewer genes known to be important for other Xanthomonas species to cause disease. Read more here.

Sunset on a field with a hay bale. 
ACES, Extension researchers add expertise to Illinois climate change report

llinois is undergoing a rapid change in weather patterns that already has started to transform the state and could affect the future of farming, a major new scientific assessment by The Nature Conservancy in Illinois reveals.

Long-term, serious effects such as periods of extreme heat, increased precipitation, and more intense storms are ahead for Illinois, the nation’s fifth-largest agricultural producer. The report recommends immediate actions to lessen the threat.

Multiple scientists from the College of ACES are among the more than 40 experts from universities and government agencies who contributed to the report. CPSC researchers include Aaron Hager, Nicholas Seiter, Andrew Leakey, and Jennifer Quebedeaux, Crop Sciences.

Read more about the report and its findings from the Nature Conservancy.

A woman wears glasses and a hat, leaning on a pole. 
How the humble woodchip is cleaning up water worldwide

Australian pineapple, Danish trout, and Midwestern U.S. corn farmers are not often lumped together under the same agricultural umbrella. But they and many others who raise crops and animals face a common problem: excess nitrogen in drainage water. Whether it flows out to the Great Barrier Reef or the Gulf of Mexico, the nutrient contributes to harmful algal blooms that starve fish and other organisms of oxygen.

But there’s a simple solution that significantly reduces the amount of nitrogen in drainage water, regardless of the production system or location: denitrifying bioreactors. 

“Nitrogen pollution from farms is relevant around the world, from corn and bean farms here in Illinois to sugarcane and pineapple farms in Australia to diverse farms bordered by ditches in Belgium. We're all dealing with this issue. It's really exciting that bioreactors are bringing us together around a potential solution,” says Laura Christianson, CPSC assistant professor and lead author on a new synthesis article in Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Read more here.

Incentives could turn costs of biofuel mandates into environmental benefits

New studies from the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) shed more light on the economic and environmental costs of mandates in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), a federal program to expand the nation’s biofuels sector.

Researchers, including faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, said the studies indicate a need to adopt more targeted policies that value the environmental and ecosystem benefits of perennial bioenergy crops over cheaper options — and provide financial incentives for farmers to grow them. Read more here.


Awards & Accomplishments

Man holding giant check in front of hay bale. 
2021 Glen “GB” Brandt Prize Awarded to Crop Science's Alumni Will Glazik

Fifth generation Illinois farmer Will Glazik was named the inaugural recipient of the Glen “GB” Brandt Prize for Ag Entrepreneurism, an award that honors an individual who exemplifies an entrepreneurial spirit and advances innovation through their business practices.

The award was presented at the 2021 AgTech Innovation Summit, hosted by the University of Illinois Research Park.

Glazik’s nominations highlighted these qualities as a farmer, researcher, public speaker, distillery owner, and entrepreneur. 

“Will is blazing a trail for a new generation of farmers in Illinois who want to be active managers and marketers for a diverse array of products,” said nominator Dr. Adam Davis,  head of the Department of Crop Sciences in the UI College of ACES.  “He is creative and fearless in trying out new innovations in production methods, marketing and new product creation. He is generous with sharing his knowledge, reaching and teaching hundreds of other growers through his work with the IDEA Farm Network.”

The Glen “GB” Brandt Prize for Ag Entrepreneurism was established in 2021 in honor of Glen “GB” Brandt, a legendary figure in the field of Illinois agriculture, who passed away in late 2020. The BRANDT Foundation partnered with the University of Illinois to provide the winner a $10,000 prize. 

Glazik manages Cow Creek Organics Farms in Paxton, Ill., where he has diversified the farming system, moving from producing grain to an integrated crop-livestock operation selling high-quality organic meats, grains, and seeds. His business ventures use modern technology to innovate more efficient processes and minimize the carbon footprint of farming, with the end goal of all being carbon negative. Read more here.


Extra! Extra!

A tractor plowing a field 
Spring Planting Video

Spring has sprung and planting season has come to campus! Check out the planting in a new video made by Allen Parrish, the Director of the Crop Sciences Research Centers. Watch it here.


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