Agronomy and Horticulture - Fall 2015 Seminar Series

September 18

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Dryland crop production in the Panhandle—challenges and opportunities
CODY CREECHAssistant Professor, Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Dryland crop production in the Nebraska panhandle has changed drastically over the last 50 years. The traditional wheat-fallow rotation has given way to complex rotations with diverse crops. The current status of dryland crop production and research will be shared. Future research ideas and opportunities will also be discussed.

September 25

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Development of resources and research and extension programming at the UNL Water Resources Field Laboratory and Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center
Professor, UNL Animal Science, District Director, West Central Research and Extension Center

Don Adams will review the evolution of commercial farms to laboratories for integrated cropping systems, water conservation and water management. He will discuss opportunities for research and UNL Extension programming with limited water at the UNL Water Resources Field Laboratory and Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center.

October 2
Cottonwood Room Nebraska East Union

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Keep enjoying your morning coffee: Research can maintain healthy beans in times of climate change
MARCO CRISTANCHOScientific Director, Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Parque los Yarumos, Manizales, Caldas, Colombia

Climate change has caused major reductions in coffee production due to increased incidence of insect pests and diseases, as well as abiotic stresses that are threatening sustainable coffee production around the world. In Latin America, the coffee leaf rust epidemic has caused more than $1 billion in losses. Coffee leaf rust between 2012 and 2014 caused over 50 percent reduction in production in Central America, affecting more than 5 million people. Recent research has focused on de novo sequencing and assembly of the coffee genome.

Marco Cristancho will discuss how they have sequenced the genome of orange rust Hemileia vastatrix in order to understand the molecular mechanisms used by this fungus to attack the coffee plant and how this pathogen adapts to a variable climate. What appropriate actions need to be taken in the near future to address the impact of climate change on coffee sustainability? These issues will be addressed in the context of the latest developments by different coffee research groups. The implications of additional research investments needed in order to save your morning cup of coffee will also be discussed.

October 9

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Image-based plant phenomics approach to bridge the genotype-phenotype gap
Associate Professor, Plant Molecular Physiology, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Harkamal Walia will discuss the use of image-based approaches to dissect the physiological and genetic basis of abiotic stress tolerance in crops. He will also provide an overview of open-source image processing resources being developed as part of the phenomics effort.

October 16

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Crop simulation modeling for crop irrigation scheduling and nitrogen management
Associate Professor, Crop Simulation Modeling, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Haishun Yang will discuss ongoing research of using simulation modeling to develop crop management decision support tools for crop irrigation and N management.

October 19 (Monday)
Arbor Suite

Nebraska East Union

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On Turkish agriculture: Self-sufficieny and yield gaps
Professor, Ataturk University of Turkey

Taskin Oztas is professor and Head of the Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition at Ataturk University of Turkey. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Agronomy in 1994 under the supervision of Professor Alice Jones. Oztas’ main research areas are soil erosion and conservation, soil management and spatial characterization of soil properties.

Recently he has been in charge of Modelling and Mapping Desertification Risk of Turkey on a national research team. He is currently at UNL as a visiting scientist collaborating with Haishun Yang in the Global Yield Gap Atlas project in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.

This presentation will give a brief introduction about Turkey and Turkish agriculture, with more focus on crop yields and yield gaps in comparison with European countries and the United States.

October 23
Internationalizing the land-grant mission—opportunities and challenges
IANR Assistant Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement

Josh Davis will discuss trends in the globalization of higher education, describe specific IANR initiatives that are underway, and highlight tools and opportunities for those interested to become more involved.

October 30

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and their role in modern agriculture
Professor, Soil Microbial Ecology, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are important to plant nutrient acquisition under low input agriculture or from soils of low fertility. Most of our major agronomic crops have well-developed symbioses with AMF—particularly wheat, maize and soybean—that have adapted to modern breeding and agriculture management practices with varying impacts on AMF diversity and function. This seminar will highlight research on AMF in maize cropping systems, particularly phosphorus uptake under high yielding conditions and the impact of nitrogen fertilization on AMF biomass and diversity.

November 6

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Improving ozone tolerance in maize and soybean
USDA-ARS Scientist, Associate Professor, Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

This presentation will describe the physiological and metabolic basis for variation in ozone tolerance as well as RNA sequencing experiments that reveal genes responsive to elevated ozone in the field.

November 13

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Toward a more healthful wheat crop: Zinc and cadmium in Great Plains hard winter wheat
Postdoctoral Research Associate – NIFA Fellow, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Zinc and cadmium are taken up and transported by plants using the same mechanisms. Zinc is essential for human health, while cadmium is toxic. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations are expected to further depress wheat grain zinc concentration, while human activity is increasing soil cadmium concentration in some regions of the world. Breeding strategies to address this paired challenge to producing more healthful wheat are needed. The presentation will review research in Great Plains hard winter wheat germplasm focused on understanding the variation for grain zinc and cadmium, the implications for human nutrition, and potential for selection of improved wheat genotypes.

November 20

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Applying theory in ecology and evolution to steer community reassembly and ecosystem functioning—how grassland restoration is an “acid test”
Professor, Ecosystem/Restoration/Grassland Ecology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Ecological restoration provides a unique opportunity to test how the environment and evolutionary processes interact to affect the structure of developing communities and recovery of ecosystem functioning. The filter-framework model of community assembly predicts species in a community will be fewer than those that can potentially arrive due to abiotic conditions that prevent unsuitable genotypes from establishing and biotic interactions that prevent species from persisting over time. Environmental heterogeneity and within-species variation represent two filters ecological theory predicts will influence community diversity and ecosystem functioning. Thus, applying theory to guide restoration is an “acid test” of ecological knowledge.

December 4

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Herbicide-resistant weeds in Nebraska—research and extension
Assistant Professor, Extension Weed Management Specialist, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Repeated and intensive use of herbicide(s) with the same mode of action can rapidly select for shifts to tolerant, difficult-to-control weeds, and the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds. Weeds have evolved resistance to 22 out of 25 known herbicide modes of action and to 157 different herbicides. Control of herbicide-resistant weeds is one of the greatest challenges for corn and soybean producers in Nebraska. Eight weed species have evolved resistance to several groups of herbicides in Nebraska. Six weed species have been confirmed to be resistant to glyphosate in Nebraska. Research and UNL Extension activities on management of herbicide-resistant weeds will be discussed.

December 11

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Fostering science literacy in the elementary grades: Educational research on third-grade students’ learning about plants
Associate Professor, Science Education, Science Literacy Coordinator, UNL School of Natural Resources

Cory Forbes will present findings from educational research programs focused on elementary (3rd-grade) students’ reasoning about plant structure, function, growth and development. These findings lay the foundation for a new project to develop, implement, and study the impact of science units that are designed to foster student learning about core life sciences concepts.