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Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Phenotyping

Improving Corn Production Efficiency

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) funds research unlocking important innovations in plant productivity. Two key initiatives look to reduce the corn plants need for additionally applied nitrogen and help to identify key corn genetic traits that impact yield and the plant’s ability to respond to environmental stressors.

Trait Development – Nitrogen Use Efficiency

Nitrogen fertilizer has become more expensive in recent years adding significant cost to corn production.  The Gulf Hypoxic Task Force and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy have called for a 45 percent reduction in fertilizer in the water. 

The key objectives of this research are to:

  • Increase corn yield using the same amount of nitrogen
  • Achieve the same yield using less nitrogen
  • Utilize an ICPB proprietary gene to commercialize new technology
  • Reduce the cost of production by improving nitrogen use efficiency
  • Improve the environmental footprint of crop production

Improving Plant Productivity - Phenotyping

Meeting future corn production challenges will require the development and management of crop varieties that will perform well in spite of increased weather variability.  To address this challenge, an ambitious wide scale plant phenotyping initiative was initiated which will expand our understanding of the interacting roles of corn genetics and crop environments on crop performance.  Iowa Corn continues to leverage the corn genome to gain understanding of how the corn plant works to improve our ability to get more productivity out of an acre of ground.

The key objectives of this research are to:

  • Develop a public corn phenotype database to allow study of mechanisms by which genes interact with the environment to influence traits
  • Develop new methods and devices to analyze the relationship between genetic, trait and environmental data to predict performance of plants
  • Be able to predict the growth and yield of a corn plant given the genetic background and the environment
  • Convert the corn genome sequence into functional knowledge
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