Mixed cover crops capture carbon in soil, could help mitigate climate change

September 23, 2022

When it comes to adding carbon to the soil, all cover crops don’t perform equally, according to a team of researchers whose new study revealed the disparity for the first time.

Penn State shares $25M DOE grant to study climate change impacts and adaptation

September 20, 2022

Penn State was named a collaborating institution in a $66 million U.S. Department of Energy Urban Integrated Field (Urban IFL) Program designed to study the impacts of climate change on American cities. The program will study the impacts of climate change in three major U.S. cities — Baltimore, Chicago and Austin — and involves more than 20 institutions nationwide. Penn State, along with eight other organizations, will support the Baltimore project, which is being led by Johns Hopkins University.

Penn State awarded grant to help dairy farmers develop climate-smart commodities

September 19, 2022

Funding of up to $25 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will support a new Penn State-led collaboration with dairy industry associations and producers to develop and implement climate-smart practices on Pennsylvania dairy farms. The project is aimed at generating climate commodities that add value to dairy products along the supply chain and leveraging agriculture’s potential to provide solutions to climate change.

IEE leadership helps shape report to NSF on climate change, role of engineering

September 15, 2022

Two Penn State researchers provided key leadership in the creation of a report to the National Science Foundation (NSF) on engineering research areas that need to be better developed to address climate change. Bruce Logan was a co-chair and member of the report’s Thematic Task Force. He also guided content creation and report editing. Erica Smithwick provided her expertise to the group focused on carbon sequestration.

No-till management may reduce nitrous oxide gas releases, fight climate change

September 15, 2022

Scientists have long known that no-till farming reduces erosion and lessens water and nutrient runoff from crop fields, but now a new study by a team of Penn State researchers suggests that limiting soil disturbance may also diminish releases of nitrous oxide.

Adding fungal enzymes to dairy cow rations boosts milk output and quality

September 9, 2022

Supplementing the feed of dairy cattle with enzymes from two funguses simultaneously has a positive effect on the animals’ lactational performance, according to Penn State researchers, who studied the concept in an experiment with cows.

COVID-19 drugs persist in wastewater, may pose risk to aquatic organisms

September 9, 2022

Certain drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients — including remdesivir, dexamethasone and antibiotics for associated bacterial infections — persist through wastewater treatment and may occur in waterways at levels high enough to negatively affect aquatic organisms, according to a new study led by researchers at Penn State. The findings highlight the broad utility of wastewater surveillance as a tool for monitoring the effects of human health on water quality and ecosystem health.

Local food boon spurred by pandemic may be short-lived, new research reports

September 8, 2022

The COVID‐19 pandemic affected American households in countless ways, but according to researchers, some of the most tangible shifts are taking place in the food system.

Mandatory labeling on genetically engineered foods may reduce customer purchases

August 30, 2022

Labels alerting customers that products contain ingredients from genetically engineered plants may reduce sales, at least in the short term, according to a new study from a research team including an agricultural economist in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Fact check: False claim that bumblebees use acoustic levitation to move through the air

August 30, 2022

The claim: Bumblebees don’t fly but levitate through acoustic levitation. Bees affect the ecosystem through pollination, but some social media users are claiming one type of bee – the bumblebee – has a unique ability: levitation.

How an Xprize-winning group developed an AI assistant to help African farmers increase their crops and adapt to the climate crisis

August 16, 2022

In early 2020, Edward Idun traveled to the site of the worst locust plague in Africa in decades — armed with a phone. Billions of swarming locusts were devouring crops and trees vital to the continent's ability to produce food. The loss of trees could weaken Africa's ability to combat the climate crisis. Idun and his team tracked down locusts in Kenya using eLocust3m, a mobile app.

Torrey pine genetic research may benefit efforts to save chestnut, ash trees

July 25, 2022

A new genomic study of the rarest pine tree in the world, the Torrey pine, aimed at bolstering the case for a genetic rescue of the species barely surviving in the western U.S., revealed the complexity and risk associated with the endeavor. However, a tree geneticist at Penn State who oversaw the research suggests it may benefit efforts she is involved in to save other species in the East.

Agricultural engineers design early step for robotic, green-fruit thinning

July 19, 2022

Penn State agricultural engineers have developed, for the first time, a prototype “end-effector” capable of deftly removing unwanted apples from trees — the first step toward robotic, green-fruit thinning.

Researcher gets grant to study biofilters to reduce livestock facility methane

July 18, 2022

Juliana Vasco-Correa, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lead a team conducting research on using biofilters to mitigate methane from enteric emissions produced in livestock facilities. She and her team will use the three-year award from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to fund a study of the causes of nitrous oxide formation in biofilters used for methane abatement of enclosed livestock systems.

Fowler named interim chief sustainability officer, institute director

June 27, 2022

Lara B. Fowler, assistant director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) and a senior lecturer at Penn State Law at University Park campus, has been named the interim director of the Sustainability Institute and University chief sustainability officer, effective July 1.

Penn State unit partner projects highlight awareness, importance of pollinators

June 23, 2022

Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research and the Insect Biodiversity Center, both at the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, and the Department of Graphic Design at the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture have formed a partnership, funded by the Apes Valentes Program, to develop, design and produce materials to help increase awareness of pollinator biodiversity, the importance of pollinators to food security and ecosystem health, and strategies that can be used to support pollinators in urban, agricultural and natural landscapes.

Secrets of reptile and amphibian aging revealed

June 23, 2022

At 190 years old, Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise recently made news for being the “oldest living land animal in the world.” Although, anecdotal evidence like this exists that some species of turtles and other ectotherms — or ‘cold-blooded’ animals — live a long time, evidence is spotty and mostly focused on animals living in zoos or a few individuals living in the wild. Now, an international team of 114 scientists, led by Penn State and Northeastern Illinois University, reports the most comprehensive study of aging and longevity to date, comprising data collected in the wild from 107 populations of 77 species of reptiles and amphibians worldwide.

Three honored for their commitment to diversity in College of Ag Sciences

June 7, 2022

Three individuals are the recipients of the 2022 Dr. William Henson Diversity Achievement Award from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, which recognizes distinctive and outstanding teaching, research, extension or creative work advancing diversity in the college.

Managing habitat for flowering plants may mitigate climate effects on bee health

June 6, 2022

Warm, wet weather conditions and changing climate negatively influence the nectar intake and nutritional health of honey bees, but maintaining large tracts of grassy natural habitat with flowering plants around apiaries may help to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate, according to a new study by an international team of researchers.

Oil and gas brine 'no better' controlling dust than rainwater, researchers find

May 27, 2022

Spreading wastewater, or brine, from conventional oil and gas wells on unpaved roads is a longstanding practice for suppressing dust, which can become a breathing and visibility hazard during warmer months. Common in several other states, the practice was halted in Pennsylvania in 2018 and is under evaluation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP commissioned a study by Penn State researchers, who found that the brine is about as effective as rainwater at controlling dust but worse for the environment.

Internet-based precision irrigation system shows promise for fresh-market tomato

May 25, 2022

An “internet of things” — or IoT — system monitoring real-time data from soil-based sensors to activate an automated precision irrigation setup can conserve water and boost crop production, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

SAFES seed funding boosts agricultural research data capabilities

May 2, 2022

Four research teams in the College of Agricultural Sciences have tapped in to the computing and software engineering expertise at the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS) to improve research workflows.

Energy, environmental seed grants awarded to 21 interdisciplinary teams

April 29, 2022

The Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) awarded seed grants to 21 groups of interdisciplinary researchers at Penn State for the 2021–22 cycle.

Novel study of small fish in Icelandic waters sheds new light on adaptive change

April 28, 2022

Innovative research showing that populations of a small fish that live in both Iceland’s lakes and marine waters, respond more quickly and differently to predators after they invade new freshwater lakes, demonstrating how some animals can adapt rapidly to changes in their environments and may be able to adapt to climate change.

Student wins award, will present work on water and nutrient management solutions

April 27, 2022

Penn State student Dana Sanchez will advance her interest in environmental education when discussing water and nutrient management solutions for Pennsylvania farms impacting the Chesapeake Bay as a presenter at a national conference.

PlantVillage Team awarded $1M in Elon Musk XPRIZE Carbon Removal Competition

April 25, 2022

An international team led by David Hughes, founder of Penn State’s PlantVillage project, has been named among 15 milestone winners of the latest round of the XPRIZE and Musk Foundation’s Carbon Removal Competition. The prize comes with a $1 million award funded by Elon Musk, which the PlantVillage team will use to demonstrate their capacity to draw down one billion tons of carbon per year in a sound and economically attractive way that benefits low-income farmers in Africa.

Plant scientist gets grant to study how climate change will affect forage crops

April 18, 2022

A Penn State plant scientist has received a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lead a team studying how changes in temperature associated with climate change affect the establishment, persistence and performance of perennial forage crops and their associated weedy plant communities in the U.S. Northeast.

Study examines if there is something 'fishy' happening with seafood imports

April 5, 2022

Reducing tariffs on imported goods is meant to remove trade barriers, but it doesn’t seem to be helping the seafood industry, which has experienced the same — if not more — import rejections and notifications at borders, according to research guided by an agricultural economist, Linlin Fan.

Cover crops more effective than insecticides for managing pests, study suggests

April 4, 2022

Promoting early season plant cover, primarily through the use of cover crops, can be more effective at reducing pest density and crop damage than insecticide applications, according to a Penn State-led team of researchers.

Pa. funds pollinator research to aid honey production

March 29, 2022

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding was joined by the dean of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences to highlight nearly $1 million in state investments to strengthen the competitiveness of Pennsylvania specialty crops.