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K-State Today

August 11, 2014



K-State graduate students awarded sustainable agriculture grants

By Mary Lou Peter

Three K-State graduate students, along with three faculty members, have each been awarded a $10,000 grant by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

Devin Mangus, from Kanarado, along with Ajay Sharda, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering, earned the award for the project, "Developing a Thermal Imaging System for On-demand Corn Temperature Profiles for Variable Rate Irrigation."

"This project's goal is to develop an environmentally compensated computer-aided thermographic imaging system capable of measuring high spatial surface temperatures, 0.25 degrees Celsius, while linking position and camera orientation information to each image for subsequent research aboard small unmanned aerial systems," Mangus said. "By simplifying image acquisition and application solutions for capturing full-season crop water stress parameters of irrigated corn, producers, agricultural service providers and researchers will have site-specific crop water requirements for management decisions to better allocate available water resources for variable rate irrigation."

Jennifer Frederick, from Lexington, Kentucky, along with Bhadriraju Subramanyam, professor of the grain science and industry, received the grant for the project "The Influence of Elevated Temperatures on a Residual Insecticide and Inert Dust to Disinfest Empty Bins Prior to On-farm Grain Storage."

"The efficacy of low toxicity residual insecticides and inert dust in empty grain bins can increase with the presence of elevated temperatures," Frederick said. "The aim of this study is to determine the interaction between temperature and efficacy of a low toxicity residual insecticide and inert dust to control populations of three species of stored-product pests commonly found in grain bins. Laboratory trials will be conducted to determine the most effective treatment and temperature combination for the highest mortality of each species, and then field trials will be conducted in empty farm bins for validation."

Eric Obeng, from Kumasi, Ghana, with Augustine Obour, soil scientist at K-State's Western Kansas Agricultural Research Center in Hays, earned the grant for the project "Evaluating Camelina sativa as a Fallow Replacement Crop in Wheat Production Systems."

"Camelina sativa, a biofuel crop, has the potential to replace fallow and increase economic returns in dryland cereal-based cropping systems in the Great Plains," Obeng said. "This project will fill the knowledge gap by identifying spring and winter camelina genotypes adapted to this region, determine plantings dates, nitrogen and sulfur fertility requirements, and harvesting techniques. Developing agronomic recommendations for camelina production will optimize camelina as bioenergy feedstock in wheat-based cropping systems. Increased production of biofuel crops will diversify cropping systems in Kansas and Great Plains states and encourage the development of oil processing and biodiesel production industry in the region."

The grants were awarded as part of North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education's Graduate Student Grant Program, a competitive grant program to fund graduate student projects that address sustainable agriculture issues.

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education's Administrative Council members decide which projects will receive the program's funds. Farm and nonfarm citizens, the council includes a mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities and nonprofit organizations. Regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and North Central Region agribusinesses, state agencies and foundations are also part of the decision-making in terms of how to distribute grant money.