Department of Plant Science

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Plant Science News

Centre County to be included in statewide hemp research
March 23, 2017
STATE COLLEGE - A few years ago, the federal government changed its regulations that allowed people to do research on industrial hemp. The state passed legislation last year that made that possible in Pennsylvania. On Friday, the Department of Agriculture announced that 16 teams from across the state were approved to conduct studies on the plant. Penn State Professor Greg Roth is the head of one of those research teams.
Farmers roll a hairy vetch-triticale cover crop into a thick mat which serves as a mulch and weed-suppressant. Photo credit Clair Keene.
American Society of Agronomy -Magic Cover Crop Carpet
March 3, 2017
Organic farmers have to make hard choices between protecting soil from erosion and controlling weeds. For example, large-scale organic farming relies heavily on tillage. Tilling breaks up the soil to kill weeds and prepare for planting. But intense tillage can compact soil, cause erosion, and deplete nutrients. As a result, some organic farmers are turning to cover crops for weed control.
Agricultural research, like that conducted at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center (shown) is facing daunting challenges as scientists attempt to greatly increase food production in a sustainable way and protect the environment.
Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading
February 23, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- "Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population." This truism has been repeated so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture. Research published today (Feb. 22) in Bioscience suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. The assertion that we need to double global crop and animal production by 2050 is not supported by the data, argues Mitch Hunter, doctoral student in agronomy, in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. He says the analysis shows that production needs to keep increasing, but not as fast as many have claimed.
Researchers receive $7 million grant to develop deeper crop roots
January 16, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, to design a low-cost, integrated system that can identify and screen for high-yielding, deeper-rooted crops. The interdisciplinary team, led by Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant nutrition, will combine a suite of technologies designed to identify phenotypes and genes related to desirable root traits, with the goal of enhancing the breeding of crop varieties better adapted for nitrogen and water acquisition and carbon sequestration.