Technology is bringing precision agriculture one-step closer to widespread use
USDA-Agricultural Research Service scientists at the George E. Brown, Jr. Salinity Laboratory, Riverside, California, have developed general guidelines for soil mapping using mobile equipment. This advanced technology is valuable for looking at changes in soil quality over time; including the presence of pollutants such as salts, pesticides, and fertilizers; and for use in precision agriculture to determine areas that are to be managed to maximize yield, minimize environmental impacts, and optimize the use of resources.
Soil is a very diverse media, which can vary from one point to the next in its chemical and physical makeup. Many of these soil properties influence crop yield and can cause yield variations within fields. These soil properties also influence how pollutants move through soil and get into the groundwater or runoff into lakes and streams.
One useful means of mapping these changes is using mobile equipment to measure several soil properties simultaneously. In order to determine where to take the optimum number of soil samples that will characterize the patterns in soil properties within a field, information is first obtained through the use of a global positioning system (GPS). Using statistical software developed by Scott Lesch of the Salinity Laboratory, maps of soil properties are then created by a geographic information system (GIS). These maps are used to guide management decisions for precision agriculture.
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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