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KBS LTER research published in BioScience PDF Print E-mail

A new BioScience paper authored by a KBS LTER team shows that by changing row-crop management practices in economically and environmentally stable ways, US farms could contribute to improved water quality, biological diversity, pest suppression and soil fertility while helping to stabilize the climate.

Further, Midwest farmers, especially those with large farms, appear willing to change their farming practices to provide these ecosystem services in exchange for payments, the article reports.

A previously published survey showed that citizens are willing to make such payments for environmental services such as cleaner lakes.

The LTER's Phil Robertson is lead author of the article, to be published in the May issue of BioScience. Co-authors include Kay Gross, Steve Hamilton, Doug Landis, Thomas Schmidt, Sieg Snapp and Scott Swinton.

The research analyzed by Robertson and colleagues investigated the yields and the environmental benefits achievable by growing corn, soybean, and winter wheat under regimes that use one third of the usual amount of fertilizer—or none at all—with “cover crops” fertilizing the fields in winter. The research also examined “no-till” techniques. The regime that used fewer chemicals resulted in more than 50 percent reductions in the amount of nitrogen that escaped into groundwater and rivers, with crop yields close to those of standard management.

Nitrogen pollution is a major problem in inland waterways and coastal regions, where it contributes to the formation of  “dead zones.”

Sprunger named SSSA "Future Leader in Science" PDF Print E-mail

Congratulations to Christine Sprunger, a KBS-based graduate student in MSU's Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences program, who was among 18 graduate students nationwide to win a highly competitive 2014 Future Leaders in Science award from the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

Sprunger was in Washington D.C. from March 23-26 for an awards ceremony, networking events and an action-packed day of training in policy, advocacy and science communication, followed by meetings with congressional staff from Michigan and Indiana, held to raise support for science, technology and research funding. Sprunger was also chosen to present the SSSA's 2014 Excellence in Soil Stewardship award to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Stabenow (L) receives the SSSA award from Sprunger (R) as SSSA president Jan Hopmans looks on

Stabenow (L) receives the SSSA award from Sprunger (R) as SSSA president Jan Hopmans looks on.

Cara Krieg featured in MSU Today PDF Print E-mail

Cara Krieg, a KBS doctoral student of Zoology whose research focuses on aggression in female house wrens, has been profiled in MSU Today.

Read the article here.

KBS Researchers Find Benefits to Perennial Bioenergy Crops PDF Print E-mail

Taking factors besides yield into consideration lends increased viability to native perennial grasses as a biofuels source, according to a new paper by researchers from KBS and the KBS LTER, the University of Wisconsin, University of Nebraska, Bard College and Trinity Christian College.

Methane consumption, pest suppression, pollination and bird populations are higher in perennial grasslands than in corn crops, the team found; additionally, these benefits increase when fields are located near other perennial grass habitats.

The paper can be viewed online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) Early Edition here.

Read a press release from the National Science Foundation here.

Read an MSU Today article here.

Litchman team to study aquatic systems using robotic fish PDF Print E-mail

An MSU research team that includes KBS faculty member Dr. Elena Litchman (Zoology) has been awarded a 2014 CyberSEES grant from the National Science Foundation for a project employing robotic fish to study aquatic ecosystems.

Taking harmful algal blooms as an application example, their project - "Towards Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems: A New Adaptive Sampling and Data-Enabled Monitoring and Modeling Framework" - exploits advances in underwater robotics, sensor networks, signal processing and biophysical modeling to create a novel paradigm for monitoring and understanding aquatic ecosystems, thus enabling sustainable management of water resources.

Read the NSF award abstract here.

The Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) program aims to advance interdisciplinary research in which the science and engineering of sustainability are enabled by new advances in computing, and where computational innovation is grounded in the context of sustainability problems.

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