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Agricultural Production Technology

The Office of Technology Transfer facilitates the licensing and distribution of technologies, including those that assist with agricultural production.

OTT case 19-005 | Patent Pending

The problem of stalk lodging (i.e. plants breaking in wind and rainstorms) results in substantial agricultural losses each year. Losses are particularly relevant in corn where it is estimated we lose at least 5% of the annual harvest due to lodging. This equates to approximately $380 billion in lost grain each year in the United States.

To improve stalk strength and lodging resistance, plant breeders need to be able to measure how strong each experimental variety of corn is. If plant breeders could non-destructively quantify how strong stalks are each year then they could more effectively breed for varieties with increased lodging resistance. The invention is a minimally invasive puncture test that is used to calculate the diameter and rind thickness of plant stems. The measured diameter and rind thickness are then used to calculate the section modulus of stems, which previous research has shown accounts for 81% of the variability in corn stalk strength. Both hand-held and automated devices are being developed.

OTT Case 20-032 | patent pending

The breaking of crop stems before harvest, known as stalk lodging, has a significant, negative impact on farmers and plant breeders. To develop crops with reduce lodging, proper phenotyping of stalk strength is required. A novel device has been developed for phenotyping stalk strength. Titled Stiffness of Crops Extrapolation Machine (SOCEM), it replicates natural loading and has higher-throughput estimations of stalk strength than any previously developed devices. The SOCEM can be used to assess entire experimental plots, despite featuring numerous, interacting stems, within a few minutes. Validation tests indicate it can accurately evaluate flexural stiffness, which is highly correlated to stalk bending strength. Preliminary data suggests it can distinguish between varieties that are prone to lodging and varieties with high lodging resistance. In its current state, it is designed for small grains, but it will be adapted for large grains in the future.

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