Tag Archives: K-State

 A form of a vitamin associated with healthy aging in humans has been used by Kansas State University researchers to build muscle in chickens, a sign that could help the poultry industry meet future demand for its product.

Muscle biologist and meat scientist John Gonzalez and graduate student Stephanie Kruger said the university is pursuing a patent on a process in which scientists injected nicotinamide riboside – a compound similar to vitamin B3 – into unhatched chicken eggs to enhance muscle development of the offspring.

“We found that their organs and their overall growth were not affected, but we did see an increase in muscle mass,” Kruger said.

The findings have big implications for an industry that has seen global demand for chicken increase annually. Instead of trying to find ways to raise more birds, producers may one day be able to raise the same amount of birds more efficiently.

“We measured increases in the weight of the pectoralis major muscle, or the chicken breast,” Gonzalez said. “So, we hope that will translate down the line into larger muscles on those birds when they go to market.”

Nicotinamide riboside has been found to be a reliable analog – or, substitute – for vitamin B3 in human health studies. The compound is thought to help delay the effects of aging by boosting biological functions that affect stress responses, metabolism and other cellular activities.

Kruger said K-State’s work focused on injecting the compound into the unhatched eggs during the tenth day of incubation. She noted that the researchers discovered the best success when injecting nicotinamide riboside into the yolk of the egg.

“The thing that is interesting to us is that the response is fairly consistent,” Gonzalez said, noting that muscle mass increased by as much as 35 percent in the birds included in this study. “We’ve had different-sized eggs, we’ve had lots of eggs and we’ve run it four times, and we’ve had the same response each time.”

The Kansas State University Research Foundation is pursuing a patent for the researcher’s work, which will help to make the process available to the industry more quickly.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Count Kansas State University agricultural economist Jesse Tack among those who recognize unique challenges created by the world’s rising demand for food and changing climates across the globe.

Tack and Ariel Ortiz-Bobea of Cornell University recently published a study in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, looking at the impact of climate change on corn yields in eight Midwestern states.

The study shows pretty clearly that corn varieties improved by modern technology have an upside for overcoming emerging climate-change concerns.

The researchers paired 35 years of climatic data with United States producers’ adoption of genetically engineered (GE) corn to find out if incorporating a new technology can offset the effects of higher temperatures and other weather impacts.

These and other technologies “may be a fruitful strategy for counter-balancing climate change,” according to the researchers. Recently developed genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR, are likely to play a large role moving forward.

Tack said there is more work to be done to understand potential effects with other agricultural crops and in countries where GE crops are accepted.

“The hope is that this is not just a one-time, one-shot technological gain,” Tack said. “We think we can continue to press the envelope and continue to innovate and improve crop yields.”

GE corn is thought to produce higher yields, and in 1996 – when U.S corn producers were first adopting varieties with these improved traits – that certainly held true. Tack said the study showed yield trends increased by nearly 70 percent during the rapid adoption period, from approximate gains of 0.94 percent per year prior to 1996 to 1.6 percent afterward.

“It’s really convenient when you have (a crop) that is highly produced in the U.S. across a wide range of locations and been produced for a long time,” Tack said. “That gives us a big enough data set that we can make estimates that we can feel comfortable with. And if that coincidentally is a crop that is pretty important from a global standpoint, you kind of have a nice mixture of this being something that is worth studying and you have the data to do it.”

Tack noted the study looked at corn yields from 1981 through 2015 in eight states and 500 counties. Then, looking at climatic conditions for those same years, the researchers built trend lines that gave them a better idea of how weather conditions affected yields before and after adoption of GE corn.

“The reason it got interesting is because if you had a string of good-weather events coinciding with the adoption of the GE crop, and you didn’t control for those factors in your analysis, you might end up saying, GE is just gangbusters,” Tack said.

On the other hand, “you might have really bad weather that coincided with GE adoption,” which could skew the impacts in the other direction, he said.

“You have a big debate in the research literature about whether GE adoption is even associated with yield gains,” Tack said. “Previous work that I was part of with Jayson Lusk at Purdue University and Nathan Hendricks at K-State suggested that if you don’t control for weather, you get that answer really wrong.”

Tack noted the current study assumes average weather during the growing season and  acknowledged that technology alone is not the answer to increasing yields in changing climates. Producers tend to adjust their management strategies based on weather or other climatic factors.

“We are not saying anything about increased probabilities of very severe droughts nor extreme events,” he said. “We’re always talking about an average growing season in terms of temperature and precipitation over the last 20-25 years, and then we’ve got these climate change models that will tell us how the temperature and the precipitation will change for an average growing season.”

The full study is available online at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aae9b8.

Kansas State University researchers are evaluating the impact of non-target injury from dicamba herbicide on non-resistant soybeans: The hope is to help producers lessen or avoid the unintended damage that was seen in some of the state’s fields the past two years.

Their work comes on the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently renewing its registration of Xtendimax, FeXapan, and Engenia, the three dicamba herbicides that are approved to be sprayed on tolerant (Xtend) varieties of soybeans and cotton. Non-tolerant soybeans are extremely susceptible to dicamba, causing injury to plant leaves and reduced yields.

“The critical factor is when and how we use the dicamba,” said Dallas Peterson, a weed management specialist with K-State Research and Extension. “An early-season application poses much less risk of causing a problem, and if we do see a little bit of non-target injury from those early-season applications, the long-term impact will be much less.”

Peterson conducted the work with colleague Vipan Kumar, a scientist at the Agricultural Research Center in Hays, and graduate student Tyler Meyeres. Among their findings, they were able to confirm that injury to soybeans was at its lowest level when dicamba was applied during the vegetative growth phase.

“Just because you see injury doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to see yield loss,” Peterson said. “However, that still doesn’t make it right; we still don’t want to have to worry about non-target injury.”

He added that researchers strongly suggest that producers closely follow label directions when applying dicamba, and “be aware of surrounding susceptible crops and plants to minimize the potential for off-target movement.”

“In fact, producers shouldn’t even spray the products if the wind is blowing in the direction of neighboring fields or areas with susceptible crops and plants,” he said.

Peterson noted that injury to soybeans and resulting yield loss was much higher when soybeans were exposed to dicamba during the reproductive phases, which was an expected finding. That was also the case when fields were exposed to dicamba applications multiple times during a growing season.

“When there were multiple exposures of soybeans to dicamba, crop injury and yield loss increased dramatically,” Peterson said.

For example, in a research setting, when the K-State group exposed soybeans to 1/100 of a typical field-use rate at all three growth stages, soybean yield was reduced by nearly 70 percent.

The researchers also evaluated dicamba rates of 1/500 and 1/1,000 the normal field use rate.  Peterson said soybean yield loss from those rates was much less than at the 1/100 rate and often not significant.

“Unfortunately, injury symptoms on soybeans can occur at rates down to 1/20,000 and it’s impossible to know what the exposure rate was,” he said.

“Dicamba has been beneficial from a weed control standpoint,” Peterson said. “But we don’t want to rely just on dicamba or we’ll have the same problems with resistance to dicamba that we experienced with glyphosate. So good stewardship and using an integrated weed management program is extremely important.”

He adds that producers should “communicate with your neighbors, follow the application guidelines and make good judgments when you apply and how you apply dicamba products.”

More information on EPA’s Oct. 31 decision to renew dicamba for use on growing plants is available online.

In anticipation of calving season, the Kansas State University Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and K-State Research and Extension will be hosting a series of calving schools between November and January.

The program will outline the normal calving process as well as tips to handle difficult calving situations. A.J. Tarpoff, extension beef veterinarian, said the purpose of the event is to increase knowledge and practical skills and increase the number of live calves born.

Experts will also share tips on when and how to intervene to assist the cow and how those times may be different when dealing with young heifers. Presenters will also demonstrate proper use of calving equipment on a life-size scale.

“Our goal is for producers to leave better prepared for calving season,” Tarpoff said. “We will discuss timelines on when to examine cows for calving problems, and when to call for help if things are not going well. It’s an excellent program regardless of experience level.”

He added that several of the meetings will cover such topics as proper bull/heifer selection and EPDs; winter cow nutrition; and injection site management.

The list of meetings include:

  • Thursday, Nov. 15, 6 p.m.,Sherman County 4-H Building, Goodland. RSVP to Sunflower Extension District Office at 785-332-3171, or email Toni Belshe atmabelshe@ksu.edu.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m.,Oskaloosa City Hall, Oskaloosa. RSVP to the Meadowlark Extension District Office.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 11, evening,4-H Community Building, Yates Center. RSVP to theSouthwind Extension District Office

  • Thursday, Dec. 13, morning,Kingman County Expo Center,Kingman. RSVP to the Kingman County Extension Office.

  • Thursday, Dec. 13, evening,McPherson County 4-H Building, 710 W Woodside St. McPherson. RSVP by calling Terra at 620-241-1523.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 9, Dole Specter Conference Center, Russell. RSVP to the Midway Extension District Office.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 16, Hy Plains Education Center, Montezuma. RSVP to the Gray County Extension Office.