USDA to Host Listening Sessions on Public Access to Scholarly Publications and Digital Scientific Data

NOTE: The comment period is extended to Saturday, January 9, 2016.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public comment on the development of a policy to increase access to the results of federally-funded agricultural research. Dr. Catherine Woteki, the USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE) announced today that USDA will receive comment at two live teleconferences and via email through Dec. 9, 2015.

“Our goal is to help stakeholders understand and participate in planning for an increase in public access to scholarly publications and scientific data funded by USDA,” said Dr. Woteki. “We see this increased access as an opportunity to raise the profile of the field of agricultural research, highlighting its many contributions to scientific innovation and its value to society. Stakeholder insights are vital to planning this new era of open access so we can best meet the needs of society and of scientists.” Continue reading

Scientist cautions growers to be careful about jumping to conclusions with research results

In Southeast Farm Press

by Eric P. Prostko, University of Georgia Extension Weed Specialist

As young children, we were taught in school that 1 + 1 = 2.  In the world of interpreting agricultural research that equation might not always be true.

At this time of year, people like me frantically gather all their data and interpret the results.  Over the next few months, growers will be bombarded with charts, graphs, tables, pictures and claims of greatness.

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Detailed Images Aid Studies of Beneficial Wasps

At ARS News

By Jan Suszkiw

Using specialized digital photography methods, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are producing high-resolution images of members of the wasp superfamily Platygastroidea.

Of particular interest is using the images to improve the identification and taxonomic description of one- to two-millimeter-long Trissolcus wasp species that parasitize stink bugs and could have potential as biological control agents. The wasps’ larvae hatch and feed inside the bug’s eggs, killing them in the process. Some species attack the eggs of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive pest from Asia that’s become established in 39 U.S. states and, in 2010, inflicted $37 million in damage to corn, soybeans, grapes and other crops.

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Florida research finds that sterile flies can be good mates

Irradiated, sterile flies dropped over seaports and agricultural areas to mate with unsuspecting females save food crops and millions of dollars in prevented infestations and the ensuing eradication efforts.

But blasting these secret-suitor insects with radiation via electron beams, X-rays or gamma-rays, tends to make them weaker than typical males — and not so appealing to females as possible mates.

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New Trap on Tap for Better Beetle Control

Better control of red flour beetles and other costly stored-product insect pests could be on hand, thanks to a new pitfall trap designed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers.

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Agricultural research continues funding scramble

This article, reposted from Southeast Farm Press, takes a bleak look at the future of university agricultural research funding.

In recent years, university agricultural research funding has too often been short.

The new reality for researchers and administrators is a near-constant scramble to find ways to keep research programs afloat.

The March 1 sequester, says Michael Mazourek, further jeopardizes the gains made in research programs. Mazourek, an assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, tells a story that he insists could be told by agriculture professors and researchers across the country.

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