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K-State Today

July 28, 2011

McCornack part of research team studying impact of biofuels crops on insects

Submitted by David Margolies

Dr. Brian McCornack

Brian McCornack, assistant professor of entomology, is part of a team that was recently awarded a $938,000 competitive grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Sustainable Bioenergy Research Program.

The project, “Impact of bioenergy crops on pests, natural enemies and pollinators in agricultural and non-crop landscapes," is a cooperative effort of K-State, the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State University and the USDA-Agriculture Research Service Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center.

Sustainability of the nation’s bioenergy feedstock production relies on selection and placement of energy crops that efficiently generate biomass without compromising existing agricultural systems. Pest and beneficial insects occur in these feedstock crops, but whether they will be beneficial or harmful to the feedstock crop or to the surrounding agricultural habitats is unknown.

McCornak's group is looking to answer these questions for production of canola and switchgrass. This research will advance our knowledge of risks or benefits from placing large biofuel crop monocultures into established agricultural landscapes in the Midwest.  More information about this project and the other work in McCornack's lab can be found at here.