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Research efforts at Alcorn pay off in a major way

Dr. Panicker official

Dr. Panicker.

Dr. Girish Paniker, director of conservation research, School of AREAS, was among 3,000 scientists, professionals, educators, and students to participate in the 2010 International Annual Meetings of American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) held October 31-November 3, 2010, in Long Beach, California. The theme of this meeting was “Green Revolution 2.0: Food + Energy and Environmental Security”.

Dr. Panicker presented the results of his four-year research project on carbon buildup, nutrient management, and prevention of climate change and soil erosion, which is a major conservation issue on about 50% of U.S. croplands. The paper, titled “Rotation of Horticultural Crops on No-till and Conventional Plots and Buildup of Carbon and Plant Nutrients” was co-authored by Dr. Franklin Chukwuma, off-campus centers coordinator for the ASU Extension Program. The research findings of this project (funded by the USDA and to be completed in October 2011) contain highly valuable information on no-till horticultural crop production, and carbon and plant nutrients buildup. The information is useful for erosion prediction, nutrient management, and conservation planning on horticultural lands.  

“The results show that climatic conditions of the southeast region allow one spring crop of sweet corn, two summer crops of watermelon, and a winter cover of hairy vetch to be successfully raised on the same plot within one year,” stated Dr. Panicker. “The technique developed is useful for residents who have plots. They can grow these four crops in one year in their backyards without having any farm machinery and even without a push mower. The crops can even be raised by elderly residents since no tilling is involved.”

Because of the utmost importance of the research, the presentation was selected by the American Society of Agronomy for online publication. It also covers the carbon/nitrogen ratio and residue management techniques for 36 horticultural crops, which are the major research components Alcorn has developed for the USDA/NRCS and USDA/ARS. Over five million dollars have been invested in this project in the last 18 years.

"Alcorn is the only university that has done this research work on horticultural crops, and the information collected is being disseminated through the Web sites of ASU, the National Soil Erosion Research Lab, Purdue University (Indiana), and the National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge,” shares Dr. Panicker. “This information is being used all over the world for erosion prediction, nutrient management, and conservation planning on horticultural lands. Another major part of the organic research work done with horticultural residues is being podcasted globally by the American Society for Horticultural Science.”