Machine vision system developed capable of locating king flowers on apple trees

January 27, 2023

A machine vision system capable of locating and identifying apple king flowers within clusters of blossoms on trees in orchards was devised by Penn State researchers — a critical early step in the development of a robotic pollination system — in a first-of-its-kind study.

Smithwick appointed new director of Earth and Environmental Systems Institute

January 27, 2023

Erica Smithwick, distinguished professor of geography, has been named director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State, effective Jan. 1.

Some no-till crop rotations on dairy farms could benefit from strategic tillage

January 9, 2023

Many no-till growers are reluctant to implement any soil disturbance due to concerns about negative impacts on soil health. However, a new study by a team of Penn State researchers suggests that plowing fields once after five years in a crop rotation that includes coverage with cover crops and perennials can maintain soil health and provide other benefits.

'Water, Water, Everywhere!' event set for Dec. 3 at Pasto Agricultural Museum

November 17, 2022

The public is invited to attend “Water, Water, Everywhere!” — an event taking place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Pasto Agricultural Museum. Registration is free.

Fighting fire with fire: Study gauges public perception of prescribed burns

November 7, 2022

Setting planned, controlled fires — or prescribed burns — on landscapes can reduce wildfire risks and support habitat restoration, but to be successful these policies also require public support. A new study may fill in gaps in understanding public perception toward prescribed burns in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic, where these fires are increasingly used, according to scientists.

Growing Impact' podcast probes world of cellular agriculture, meat production

November 3, 2022

The latest episode of the "Growing Impact" podcast features Josephine Wee, an assistant professor of food science in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. She is a food scientist with expertise in mycology and fungal biology. Her work involves the study of mushrooms, yeast and mold. On the podcast, Wee discusses her work with cellular agriculture and explains how lab-grown meat may be a better alternative to large-scale commercial meat production. Her seed grant project is titled “Development of Innovative Materials and Technology for Cellular Agriculture.”

Celebrating 10 Years: Volunteers Impact - Greening the Lower Susquehanna

October 31, 2022

For 10 years volunteers have been partnering with the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center, Penn State Extension, and other conservation organizations in Dauphin, Lebanon, and Lancaster Counties through a program called Greening the Lower Susquehanna. This program provides opportunities for individuals, families, and groups to spend a few hours planting trees, performing maintenance on past tree plantings, cleaning up litter, weeding rain gardens, live staking stream banks, or other practices that help improve the health of local waterways.

‘Forever Chemicals’ persist through wastewater treatment, may enter crops

October 28, 2022

PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a group of more than 4,700 fully synthetic compounds that are widely used in industrial and manufacturing processes and found in many consumer products, persist through wastewater treatment at levels that may impact the long-term feasibility of "beneficial reuse of treated wastewater," according to a study conducted by researchers at Penn State and recently published in the Agronomy Journal.

Penn State Soil Judging Team places 3rd at regional tourney; headed to nationals

October 21, 2022

Penn State’s student Soil Judging Team recently captured third place overall in a regional competition to qualify for the national championships next spring.

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.