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Illinois team part of USDA crop production study of water, land, nutrient use

8/25/2020 3:18:38 PM

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) have been awarded $1.2 million as part of a larger study to help the U.S. Corn Belt maximize crop production.

CEE professor Ximing Cai is one of four Illinois researchers who are part of the larger $10-million, five-year study led by the University of Maryland that will identify innovative ways of increasing land and water use efficiency. The scientists will study:

  • Climate variability that includes the rapid switch between floods and droughts, which usually leads to waterlogging in the crop planting stage and water stress in the crop growth stage, especially during the flowering stage of corn;
  • Biofuel development and landscape change, including adopting more efficient bioenergy crops such as sorghum and perennial grasses like Miscanthus and switchgrass — as well as socio-economic impacts and environmental impacts (water quantity and quality); and
  • Nutrient loss, a longstanding issue in the Midwest, and whether it can be positively or negatively affected by climate variability and agriculture landscape change.

The Illinois team includes Ximing Cai, the Lovell Endowed Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering; Madhu Khanna, the ACES Distinguished Professor of Agricultural & Consumer Economics; Stephen P. Long, the Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology; and Reid Christianson, Research Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences.

The goal of the overall project — funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and also including Colorado State, the University of Minnesota, the University of Nebraska, and FamilyFarms Group — will be to develop a Dashboard for Agricultural Water use and Nutrient management (DAWN). The project lead is Xin-Zhong Liang, Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland.