Skip to comments.Iowa State soil researchers receive $1 million federal grant
Posted on 12/27/2013 5:14:10 PM PST by mdittmar
An Iowa State University research team has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue its research into developing advanced soil sensors for sustainable agriculture practices.
The four-year grant, which was awarded in September and announced last week, was one of 17 given to university research teams totaling a combined $12.5 million.
The wireless sensors are being designed for burial in soil, where they would monitor water movement and soil nutrients such as nitrogen. That would help farmers predict crop yields and reduce runoff by using data that would be relayed to a base station above ground that could monitor fields in real-time.
Hopefully (the data) can be used for prescribing exactly how much to fertilize, to irrigate and where, said Ratnesh Kumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who is leading the project. Those are the long-term goals.
Nitrogen fertilizers, which are commonly over applied, create costly water contamination and have aggravated hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, in the Gulf of Mexico, which endangers the health of its ecosystem.
Theres no good sensor on the market right now that can measure the nutrients, Kumar said.
The team originally used currently available sensors that sold for about $100 for its research, but Kumar said they tended to be inaccurate and had limited ranges.
Kumar would like to see his teams research lead to the mass production of wireless sensors that could sell for $5-10 and monitor 50-square-meter grids of fields. He believes they could become commercially successful with the help of companies such as John Deere and Pioneer, which have both written letters of support for the teams research.
His teams sensors have so far only been tested in the lab, but are being packaged for soil burial, and Kumar hopes they will be ready to test in ISU research farms by next spring.
The grant is the third the team has received from NSF since 2006, when it received a three-year, $240,000 grant. In 2009, it was awarded another three-year grant, for about $461,000.
Most of the grant money has been used to support graduate students pursuing doctorates who are current or former members of the research team.
Two of those students, Gunjan Pandey and Kanishka Singh, are still part of the team and on track to receive their Ph.Ds next spring and in 2015, respectively.
Two former membersGiorgi Chighladze, a research associate at ISUs Iowa Water Center and Herman Sahota, an IBM data engineer in the San Francisco Bay Areareceived their Ph.Ds in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
A fifth student who worked on the project, Candace Batts, died in a car accident over Thanksgiving break in 2008 before completing her doctoral research.
Kumar said the new grant will allow the team to recruit new students to help continue the research.
Faculty members collaborating on the project include Michael Castellano and Fernando Miguez, assistant professors of agronomy, Liang Dong, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and Robert Weber, retired professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Isn’t it great how we pay for these people to further their education on BS projects.
Good technology likely. But why do I see the government likely using it to control (and fine) what nutrients farmers apply to their fields?
Because you’ve seen what they have done with other technology?
Sure but its not really R&D. Its paying people to study for their PhD.
“This kind of basic R&D stands to benefit everyone who buys food. “
We don’t need no stinkin food.
Just think of how much more we could learn and how sooner we could learn it if this was a private study.
With global warming, no crops will ever grow again.
Here in the Des Moines area; we have some radical leftists running the city of Des Moines.
A year ago they appointed Bill Stowe to run the Des Moines waterworks; the entity that supplies drinking water to Des Moines and all the burbs such as the one I live in. Stowe previously was the guy who was in charge of clearing snow from the streets.
Stowe went to ultra left Grinnell College; the Berkeley of Iowa.
Des Moines is very liberal; the rest of the state is rural and not.
Every spring nitrate levels rise in rivers; the snow melts and run off comes bringing with it all kinds of things that happen as the rich Iowa landscape comes to life. If nitrates go over a certain level; they have to scrub so0me out to get down to a certain level to meet federally mandated levels. The big concern is high nitrates could affect babies.
Nitrates were higher than normal this year; due to last years drought; and heavy rains early.
Des Moines had to run a special nitrate removal plant they built for just such a situation. Stowe and the rest of the ultra leftists used that situation to start the process to fine and control farmers all over the state and blame the nitrate levels 100% on the farmers. Agenda 21 stuff in my opinion.
I heard Stowe speak and asked him a question he didn’t know how to answer, concerning how did know the nitrates were really comiong from agriculture? Agriculture has changed a lot. We used to have many livestock outside; with that manure being washed away in heavy rains. Not so any more. I asked him how could ag caused nitrates possibly be higher now with those structural changes in agriculture. He mumbled something about more field having tile drainage now than in past. Bottom line is he doesn’t know.
Honestly I think most ag people are clueless about what Des Moines is trying to do; and how they are trying to impose their Agenda 21 control over the whole state with the clean water backdoor approach.
So I could see the above research being used as the data is collected. They could fine the farmers if they put on a certain amount of fertilizer. Again a good idea from the ag side; as precision agriculture seeks to closely match fertilizer. herbicides, and seed; with the exact soil needs/yield potential. I don’t trust them; would like to see whose grant money paid for this.
Oh wow. No doubt.
Control the food and you control the people. They’ve got a great start on that already.
Sounds like they consider it navigable waterways.
The US Army Engineers used to have a device to determine soil type, which is essential to engineering projects. However the device had to use a ridiculously powerful radioactive source, which with a minimum of its adjustable shielding produced about 30 REM.
Most of the grant money has been used to support graduate students pursuing doctorates
Yeah, imagine being able to shrink these down to near nano scale make them self powered or even replicate, and just spread them from a plane for the govt to monitor whatever they send out. Scary.
Why are taxpayers paying for this and not ADM or Monsanto?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.