Two professors win Wolf Prize

first_imgTwo Harvard professors have won the Wolf Prize, considered the most prestigious award in science after the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award. The Wolf Prize is presented annually by the Wolf Foundation, founded by Ricardo Wolf, a German-born inventor and Cuba’s former ambassador to Israel.C. Ronald Kahn, chief academic officer and senior investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will share the 2016 Wolf Prize in Medicine with Professor Lewis Cantley of Weill Cornell Medical College. Kahn was honored for his “pioneering studies defining insulin signaling and its alterations in disease. This work has been essential to understanding the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.” Kahn also recently was honored with the Harold Hamm International Prize.“My mentors and colleagues have provided guidance throughout my career to help me navigate life as a scientist,” sais Schreiber. Courtesy of the Broad Institute“I am both delighted and surprised to receive the Wolf Prize,” said Kahn. “I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have had throughout my career, both from the people in my lab and the many wonderful people with whom I have worked both within and outside of Joslin. While this is an international award and I have had some great fellows and colleagues from all over the world, a number of them have been from Israel, so winning the prestigious award in Israel is especially meaningful.”Stuart L. Schreiber, the Morris Loeb Professor in Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, will share the 2016 Wolf Prize in Chemistry with Professor Kyriacos C. Nicolaou of Rice University in Houston. They will split the $100,000 award. Schreiber is a founding core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and is now director of the institute’s Center for the Science of Therapeutics. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.Schreiber was recognized for “pioneering chemical insights into the logic of signal transduction and gene regulation that led to important, new therapeutics, and for advancing chemical biology and medicine through the discovery of small-molecule probes.”“My mentors and colleagues have provided guidance throughout my career to help me navigate life as a scientist,” said Schreiber. “And the trainees who joined my lab have been fearless, dedicated, and determined to make a difference. They make it a joy to come to lab every day. I am extremely grateful for this group, and deeply honored to share this recognition with my friend K.C. Nicolaou.”Read more on Kahn’s work here; and Schreiber’s research here.last_img read more


Fresh doubts, new support for flu shots for seniors

first_imgOct 9, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – In quick succession, the view that influenza shots yield life-saving benefits for elderly people has come under serious attack and received fresh support in recent weeks.One group of experts, writing in the October issue of Lancet Infectious Diseases, argued that the mortality benefits of flu shots for the elderly have been greatly exaggerated because of a subtle bias and other methodologic problems in many of the relevant studies.”The remaining evidence base is currently insufficient to indicate the magnitude of the mortality benefit, if any, that elderly people derive from the vaccination programme,” says the analysis by Lone Simonsen, PhD, of George Washington University in Washington, DC, and colleagues.But in the Oct 4 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), another team of experts presented a study showing that in the course of up to 10 flu seasons, flu shots reduced the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia and flu by 27% and shrank the risk of death by 48% for elderly members of three health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The study addresses several of the methodologic problems raised by the Lancet authors.”Vaccine delivery to this high-priority group should be improved,” states the report by Kristin Nichol, MD, of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Minnesota, and four coauthors.The controversy has major policy implications, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical groups heavily promote flu shots for elderly people, given their risk for serious complications if they contract the flu. This policy is reinforced by Medicare coverage of flu shots for this age-group.A sharp critique of the evidenceThe Lancet Infectious Diseases authors offer several reasons for questioning the notion that flu immunization saves lives in the elderly population:Vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15% to 65% since 1980, but instead of declining, overall mortality due to pneumonia and influenza in elderly people has increased in that period.Few randomized, placebo-controlled trials have examined flu vaccine effectiveness in elderly people. The largest and best study, done in the Netherlands, showed a 50% reduction in confirmed flu cases among all the volunteers, but the reduction for those older than 70 was only 23%. There was no significant reduction in influenza-like illness.A number of investigators have reported finding evidence of flu vaccination benefits in the elderly by analyzing the records of large healthcare organizations. But these studies typically are flawed in that investigators looked for an effect on all-cause mortality, a nonspecific outcome, rather than on lab-confirmed flu. Further, many such studies may be marred by a subtle selection bias, wherein relatively healthy older people were more likely to be vaccinated than frail seniors were, thereby making vaccination look more beneficial than it really was. A further problem is that cohort studies typically have defined the flu season arbitrarily as December through March, rather than on the basis of flu surveillance.Simonsen and colleagues also write that since 1968, flu has accounted for an average of about 5% of all winter deaths in older people. Yet the results of cohort studies have prompted claims that flu vaccination reduces the risk of winter death from any cause by about 50% for community-dwelling people older than 65. “That influenza vaccination can prevent ten times as many deaths as the disease itself causes is not plausible,” say Simonsen et al.They argue that in view of the “slim” evidence that flu immunization prolongs elderly people’s lives, it may be time to consider doing more randomized, placebo-controlled trials—even though using a placebo would be “ethically unappealing.” In addition, they suggest, other options for protecting the elderly should be pursued, such as developing vaccines that are more immunogenic, using larger vaccine doses, and employing antiviral drugs more aggressively.Meanwhile, the researchers say elderly people should continue to be vaccinated, because “even a partly effective vaccine would be better than no vaccine at all.”Critiquing the critiqueThe review by Simonsen and colleagues drew praise in an editorial in The Lancet, written by two other vaccine experts who have reviewed the case for flu immunization in the elderly. Tom Jefferson and Carlo Di Pietrantonj of the Cochrane Vaccine Fields in Alessandria, Italy, write that Smonsen et al “prove that statistical methods for adjustment for residual bias used in the observational studies of influenza vaccines did not work, largely because of the difficulty of adjusting for frailty with data available in electronic records.”Jefferson and Di Pietrantonj endorse the idea of doing new randomized, placebo-controlled trials of flu vaccination in older people, arguing that such studies are “the only ethical and scientific way” to settle conclusively whether the vaccines are protective. The trials must cover more than one flu season and be large enough to detect rare outcomes, such as deaths due to flu, the pair assert.In an interview, a flu expert with the CDC asserted that the evidence of effectiveness remains strong enough to justify the US policy of promoting flu shots for the elderly. David K. Shay, MD, MPH, a medical officer in the CDC’s influenza division, agreed that better vaccines are needed, but he rejected the idea of doing placebo-controlled trials in the elderly as unethical.Shay said the randomized, controlled trial from the Netherlands that showed a 50% reduction in confirmed flu cases among the elderly provided “gold standard evidence” for a protective effect. The risk was reduced 57% in 60- to 69-year-olds versus 23% in those 70 and older, but because of wide confidence intervals, the difference between the two groups was not significant, he said.The Dutch findings and the high risk of flu-related hospitalization and death in the elderly provide the major underpinnings of the US policy of promoting flu vaccination in the elderly, Shay said, adding, “We’re left with the fact that this study [by Simonsen et al] isn’t going to change policy in the US for the use of these vaccines.”He said it is very difficult to demonstrate a reduction in mortality as a result of vaccination: “No vaccine trial ever done in the developed world has been [statistically] powered to look at a mortality benefit. So we’re going to have to rely on observational data.”As for the suggestion that unmeasured confounding variables have inflated the effectiveness of flu vaccines in observational studies, Shay said, “We also think that’s possible. The CDC is interested in working with HMOs to get a better handle on how to do vaccine effectiveness studies and mortality outcome studies.”But given the existing evidence that flu shots do help protect seniors, he rejected the suggestion of doing placebo-controlled trials. “If you can’t honestly answer, ‘I have no idea’ to the question whether the vaccine is effective, then you have no basis for doing a placebo-controlled trial,” he said.On the other hand, Shay commented, “Everybody would agree that we need a vaccine with greater effectiveness and greater immunogenicity in the elderly. Manufacturers are working on adjuvanted vaccines that hopefully will be more effective.”HMO study addresses methodologic issuesIn the NEJM study, Nichol and associates sought specifically to address the kinds of methodologic problems cited by Simonsen et al. They retrospectively gathered data on flu vaccination, hospitalization for pneumonia and flu, and death from any cause among community-dwelling elderly members of three HMOs. The study covered the flu seasons from 1990-91 through 1999-2000 for one HMO and those from 1996-97 through 1999-2000 for the other two. The HMOs were in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Washington state, and the New York City area.The study included 713,872 person-seasons of observation. Vaccinated subjects were slightly older and had slightly higher rates of most of the underlying medical conditions that were recorded. There were 4,599 hospitalizations for pneumonia or flu and 8,796 deaths.The per-season hospitalization rates for unvaccinated and vaccinated people were 0.7% and 0.6%, and the corresponding death rates were 1.6% and 1.0%. The figures translated into a 27% reduction in hospitalization rate for pneumonia and flu among the vaccinated (adjusted odds ratio, 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68 to 0.77) and a 48% reduction in mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.55).The vaccine was somewhat less effective in preventing death—a 37% compared with 48% reduction—in the two seasons when the vaccine was a poor match for the circulating viral strains. For the seasons in which there was a good match, the vaccine yielded a 52% reduction in mortality risk.In an effort to detect any “healthy-vaccinee bias” (better underlying health among the vaccinated than the unvaccinated), the authors compared the risk of hospitalization among vaccinated and unvaccinated subjects during the summers (noninfluenza seasons) of 1999 and 2000. They found that the risks were similar for the two groups.The researchers went a step further by hypothesizing that an unmeasured confounding variable was influencing their findings and then estimating what that influence would be under various assumptions. They picked functional status as the unmeasured variable most likely to affect their subjects’ risk of hospitalization or death.On the basis of studies of functional status, the authors estimated that subjects with poor functional status would be half as likely to get a flu shot and two to three times as likely to be hospitalized or die, compared with those with better functional status. When they plugged these estimates into their data, along with estimates of the prevalence of the confounding variable, they found that the effectiveness of vaccination was reduced but still significant.For example, assuming that the confounder was present in 60% of subjects and that it doubled the risk of hospitalization or death, vaccination still reduced the risk of hospitalization by 14% and the risk of death by 39%. In the most extreme scenario—the confounder was prevalent in 60% and tripled the risk of hospitalization or death—vaccination still lowered the risk of hospitalization 7% and the risk of death 33%.The researchers write that their study “showed multiple benefits across multiple subgroups, a result suggesting that vaccination benefits probably extend to a broad spectrum of elderly persons.” However, they acknowledge that elderly HMO members may differ from elderly nonmembers, and the study did not include the frailest elderly, such as those living in nursing homes, who are likely to have weaker immune responses.A confidence boosterIn an accompanying NEJM editorial, John D. Treanor, MD, writes that the study by Nichol et al addresses many of the concerns raised about other observational studies “and increases our confidence in the benefits of influenza vaccination in older adults.”Because the evidence of vaccine effectiveness held up well through 10 seasons, the findings “convincingly dispel concerns that the previous studies were artifacts of a specific influenza season or a specific population,” states Treanor, who is a vaccine researcher; professor of medicine, microbiology, and immunology at the University of Rochester; and member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.He also comments favorably on the authors’ efforts to address the concerns about unmeasured confounding variables, including the examination of summer hospitalization rates and the estimate of the effect of a hypothetical difference in functional status.”Overall, this study provides additional support for the current strategy to vaccinate elderly adults,” Treanor asserts. The methodologic issues are important, and the precise magnitude of the benefits of vaccination is not yet clear, but it is clear that vaccination is beneficial and should be used widely, he adds.However, he agrees with Shay that the development of more immunogenic and effective vaccines for the elderly is an important goal.Shay said the CDC is contemplating a special initiative to help resolve the controversy over the value of flu immunization for seniors. “Sometime in 2008 the CDC hopes to get together a panel of consultants to bring about ways to move forward and find ways to resolve this controversy,” he said. By assembling experts from the different camps, the agency hopes to come up with recommendations to guide the next series of studies, he said.Simonsen L, Taylor RJ, Viboud C, et al. Mortality benefits of influenza vaccination in elderly people: an ongoing controversy. Lancet Infect Dis 2007 Oct;7:658-66 [Abstract]Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C. Inactivated influenza vaccines in the elderly—are you sure? (Editorial) Lancet 2007 Oct 6;370(9594):1199-1200Nichol KL, Nordin JD, Nelson DB, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine in the community-dwelling elderly. N Engl J Med 2007 Oct 4;357(14):1373-81 [Full text]Treanor JD. Influenza—the goal of control. (Editorial) N Engl J Med 2007 Oct 4;357(14):1439-41 [Full text]last_img read more


Fareway and Hy-Vee stores adjust hours during coronavirus emergency

first_imgDES MOINES — The state’s two major grocery store chains are adjusting their hours in response to the coronavirus outbreak.Boone-based Fareway stores spokesperson, Emily Toribio, says starting today, stores will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.  She says the first hour of business will be reserved for those who are 65 and older, expectant mothers, those with a pre-existing condition that makes them more susceptible to illness. Fareway stores are not open on Sundays.Toribio says the employees will be busy during the time the stores are closed. “The reason for the adjustment in the time is to allow our stores to continue to clean and sanitize and increase those measures during the closure period. As well as restock the shelves so we can continue to serve our customers,” Toribio says.West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee stores spokesperson Christina Gayman says they are also adjusting hours beginning today. ”All Hy-Vee grocery stores will close at 8 p.m. and then until further notice, our new store hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week,” Gayman says. “These shortened hours are just going to allow our employees additional time to clean, sanitize all areas of the stores, and restock the highest demand items — and it will also allow those employees to have more time to care for their own families and loved ones.”Gayman says the Hy-Vee convenience store hours will stay the same. “No changes there. Customers can continue to purchase snacks, fuel, other items,” according to Gayman. “The one exception I would say — if a convenience store has a dining area in it — some of them do, some of them don’t. Those dining areas are closed.”There are pictures all over social media of store shelves where toilet paper and other items that are empty. Gayman says that’s not because there is a shortage. “No, we are not experiencing any supply issues. I can tell you that obviously like other retailers –we are seeing some of those more in-demand items going a little more quickly every day. So, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, water, hand soap, but we are continuing to get deliveries every day, if not almost daily at our stores.”Toribio at Fareway says they don’t have a supply issue either — but are seeing the same thing with certain items. “We are working really hard with our suppliers to make sure that we keep our shelves as stocked as possible. And we just ask that customers be patient with us as we work through some of those things,” Toribio says.Gayman says she hasn’t seen the hoarding type purchases of these items like this before. “You know I really haven’t and I have talked to a few other Hy-Vee employees who would say winter storms are typically when you would influx of customers grabbing items such as these,” Gayman says. “But no, we haven’t seen anything like this — I don’t think anyone has.”Toribio at Fareway agrees. “We usually get an increase in traffic right before some sort of big weather event — but yeah — this is kind of a new, unprecedented time,” Toribio says.Hy-Vee operates more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states. Fareway operates 122 grocery store locations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.last_img read more


Out Of The Darkness Community Walk Info – Benefiting Suicide Prevention

first_imgFacebook7Tweet0Pin0 Olympia, Wash. – Anticipation of 200 or more people from the greater Thurston County area are expected to participate in the upcoming Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. The fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) by helping to support local and national suicide prevention and awareness programs.The Olympia Out of the Darkness Walk is one of nearly 250 Out of the Darkness Community Walks (www.outofthedarkness.org) being held this fall nationwide through December. The walks are expected to unite more than 60,000 walkers nationally and raise nearly $5 million for suicide prevention efforts.“Suicide is a national health problem, but in addition suicide is plagued by silence and stigma that continue to be barriers for seeking help,” said Jo McNeal, Area Director for the Pacific Northwest AFSP Chapters. “This walk will help bring suicide out of the darkness and hopefully raise over $20,000 which will be used to fund research and local prevention programs.”The Olympia community walk will begin at 10 a.m. at Marathon Park near Capitol Lake and end around noon.It is estimated that close to 1 million Americans make a suicide attempt, more than 36,000 die by suicide, and more than 20 million suffer from depression each year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens, college students and our Nations soldiers. Additionally, older Americans over the age of 65 account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths.“Every 14.5 minutes someone dies by suicide in the U.S,” said Robert Gebbia, Executive Director for AFSP.  “This fall, thousands are walking to raise money for prevention and awareness, and offer hope to the millions of Americans who have lost a loved one to suicide or who battle personally with depression, bipolar illness and other mental illnesses”.About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy as well as to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.  For more information please visit www.afsp.org.last_img read more


Problems Purchasing Propane

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Russ QuinnDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — As if the 2019 growing season didn’t have enough weather challenges, corn harvest has come to a complete halt for some farmers as propane for crop drying has been hard to secure. Increased demand nationwide due to extremely cold weather is limiting supplies available for drying crops.While extremely frustrating for these who have seen corn harvest stifled, the good news is more-seasonable temperatures are expected to return to most of the country. This, in turn, should lower demand for propane and make more available to the market; but it will take some time.A BAD COMBINATIONDTN Oil Markets Reporter Alton Wallace said, “A bad combination of crop drying and extremely low temperatures over a good portion of the nation in recent weeks has caused propane demand to outstrip supply.” DTN wrote about this last week as these issues first emerged. (See https://www.dtnpf.com/…)The lack of propane supplies for crop drying is more evident the farther north you move in the Midwest. This region faced a double whammy with crops that were wet and locations farther away from the pipelines that supply the product.“For those in more northern areas, they are at the end of the line and it is more expensive to get the product to these places,” Wallace said.PROPANE PRICES LOWER THAN LAST YEARThe increase in demand has not affected the price of propane, at least not yet, although some local areas have seen increases. The propane price at the Conway, Kansas, Hub that stores approximately one-third of the nation’s propane, finished Thursday at 52.75 cents per gallon, which is actually lower than a year earlier.Wallace said he believes the market is looking ahead to the coming weeks when temperatures across the Midwest are forecast to return to more-seasonable levels. This will lessen demand at terminals and, hopefully, there will be more supply available for farmers drying crops, he said.DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said this November had a historic cold snap — the coldest in a century in many areas east of the Rockies. In many instances, temperatures were 20 to 30 degrees lower than normal.“What made this one stand out is the fact that this Artic cold plummeted all the way south to the Gulf Coast with its harsh impact,” Anderson said.Anderson said the temperature pattern shows a more moderate trend through the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Seasonal levels will seem almost warm after this cold wave, he added.GRAIN DRYERS WAITMatt Undlin, a farmer from Lansford, North Dakota, told DTN his corn harvest could be stalled for the rest of November due to lack of propane to dry down his crop. His retailer said they were 10 semi-loads behind and priority will be given to hospitals, churches, schools, businesses and residences. If any propane is left, it will be made available for crop drying, he said.In addition, they were limiting residents to 100-gallon maximum fills and they were not going to be refilling anyone if the tank was at 30% or more.“We were expecting it to happen but it still sucks,” Undlin said.If that isn’t enough, the lack of supply has caused Undlin’s local propane prices to climb. Price was $1.30/gallon Tuesday and Wednesday it was $2.00/gallon and could climb to $2.50/gallon in the coming days, he said.Undlin said he is only about 10% done with his corn harvest. They planted the crop around normal planting dates, but the corn’s moisture is still 22% to 26%. One positive is yields, which have been roughly about 10% above normal, he said.December is usually extremely cold in north-central North Dakota with high temperatures around zero Fahrenheit — too cold to dry crops. Undlin hopes he can get enough corn harvested to fulfill his contracts; some of his corn may be bagged, while some may just have to stay in the field.The same situation is also present farther east. Roxi Thompson, who farms near Harmony, Minnesota, could not get propane last week to continue harvesting corn.Thompson said Thursday they called their supplier to tell them they would need more supply. It doesn’t appear they will be able obtain more propane anytime soon and it could be up to four weeks before more gas is available, she said. Thompson had received some propane on Monday of this week.“This is serious for us because we still have 700 acres of corn standing in the field, with winter weather on the way,” Thompson said. “For a farmer, the worst feeling in the world is to be unable to do the work they know must be done.”A southern Wisconsin farmer who asked to remain anonymous said he too has not been able to get propane this week as he tries to continue corn harvest. A growing season with 422% above-normal precipitation delayed crops and his corn’s moisture level ranged from 22% to 30%.“We have snow (this week) but our wet tanks are full,” the southern Wisconsin farmer said.He wanted to point out his propane dealer has been great during this ordeal and has done everything possible to obtain propane. More propane was scheduled to arrive at this Wisconsin farm today (Friday) and corn drying will begin again.EXTREME PROPANE DEMANDRoger Leider, executive director of the Minnesota Propane Association, said there is plenty of propane supply in the nation. The pressing issue is the extreme demand. He reported wholesalers in the state are seeing 150% of normal demand at this time of year.Retailers in the state have made priority lists, which include animal confinement facilities and home heating first, while grain drying falls in line second. He has heard from some less-than-happy farmers who want to dry corn, but usually an explanation of the current situation will satisfy them, he said.Leider warned the rest of November will be challenging to keep propane available for everyone who wants it. There are no quick fixes to get large amounts of the product shipped from Conway, Kansas, to Minnesota.“Inventory levels in the state are going to be way down during the month,” Leider said. “I figured it would take 700 semi-loads just to get us back to standard levels and this is on top of the 250 loads we use a day here.”Hopefully, by the end of the month more supply will be available in the state; but even then this recovery period may stretch into December, he said. Leider said the good news is the supply of propane looks to be ample and the price shouldn’t increase much, short of more extremely low temperatures.Russ Quinn can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN(ES/CZ)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more


Corn residue breakdown

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health ServicesFarmers often struggle to get corn residue to breakdown. Many environmental and soil conditions can affect residue breakdown including air and soil temperature, moisture, oxygen, biological activity, and farming practices. Tillage and the addition of fall nitrogen after harvest are common practices that farmers use to speed up residue breakdown. Many farmers feel that the GMO (genetically modified) corn residue is also much slower to break down. Integrated Crop Management at Iowa State University (Madhi Al-Kaisi) conducted a 3-year trial to test these ideas. GMO versus Non-GMO corn with tillageResearchers used both Bt (Bacteria thuringiensis) and Non Bt or Non-GMO corn varieties and evaluated three tillage systems: deep tillage, strip till, and no-till systems for three years, in the field and under controlled laboratory conditions. After 12 months in the field, they found no significant differences between Bt and non Bt corn and no differences between tillage system in corn residue break down. The common thought was that tillage would break the corn residue up into smaller pieces and incorporate the corn residue into the soil profile, and it was assumed that these actions allowed the crop residue to break down faster; which appears to be a false assumption. Nitrogen fertilizer applicationResearchers applied three rates of nitrogen (0, 30, and 60 pounds) to corn residues using 32% UAN at the end of harvest and evaluated decomposition using nylon mesh bags that where evaluated every three months for one year. Corn residue breakdown increased with time with less corn residue after each measurement but again there was no difference observed due to nitrogen application. It was thought that since corn residue has a high carbon to nitrogen ratio, adding a little extra nitrogen would assist in corn residue break down. The authors state: “The results show that applying N application to facilitate corn residue decomposition is not effective.” If GMO (Bt) versus non-GMO (no Bt), tillage, and nitrogen fertilizer are not major factors in corn residue breakdown, what is the explanation? Researchers found that soil moisture (moisture at field capacity) and warm temperatures (above 50 degrees F) are essential factors for microbial activity and residue decomposition. Researchers tested this in the lab and found that at 32 degrees F, the rate of corn residue breakdown was similar to field conditions, but at 90 degrees F and higher temperatures, the residue breakdown was much faster. Microbial levels double for every 10 degree F increase in temperature. Since this is a biological process, practices that increase soil microbial and biological activity greatly increase residue breakdown.To increase crop yields, farmers have recently adopted several practices that may slow down crop residue decomposition. Late maturing corn varieties are often harvested later in the growing season, when soil temperatures are declining, resulting in slower corn residue breakdown. Fungicides and certain herbicides may depress microbial populations. The majority of fungi decompose the lignin and the hard-to-digest soil organic matter found in corn residue. Fungi dominate in slightly acid soils and undisturbed soils (Lavell & Spain, 2005). Fungi are essential in starting the decomposition cycle so that other soil microbes can then process the crop residues into plant available and useable products.To increase corn residue breakdown, farmers have several options. First, consider using a slightly shorter maturing corn variety so that corn may be harvested earlier and the crop residue has more time to decompose when soil temperatures are warmer. Second, review your fungicide and herbicide program to see if these products are having a negative impact on soil biology and soil health. Third, consider planting a cover crop, which greatly enhances soil microbial activity and should enhance crop residue breakdown. Cover crops create a “micro-environment” in the soil where all types microbes thrive and changes the soil environment for both temperature and moisture. Fourth, consider strip-tilling soybean stubble because the undisturbed soil may allow fungi levels to rebound, although this may be a slow process. Strip-tilling soybean stubble ahead of corn planting dries out soil (0.5-1.0 of water lost with tillage) and warms up the soil, which may increase microbial activity ahead of corn harvest. Environmentally, tillage increases soil erosion and fall nitrogen applications have water quality risks, and neither appears to help with corn residue breakdown.last_img read more


Understanding Pellet Stoves

first_imgWhat happens when the power goes out?Many pellet stoves can now be configured to use battery back-up and operate even during a power failure. I purchased an optional $52 cable that I can clamp onto electrical contacts on the stove and attach to a DC automotive battery. I haven’t had to use this yet (having lucked out the ice storm this winter), but if that ice had extended to lower elevations I would have been very glad to have this option. With the DC back-up, the auto-ignite feature doesn’t work (that takes about 400 watts of electricity), but you can ignite the pellets with a gel available from pellet stove retailers.As for the pellets, this heating season provided an important lesson. It turned out that I wasn’t the only homeowner who had decided to save money by putting in a pellet stove; lots of New Englanders did, and that resulted in a surge in demand for pellets.Shortages occurred leading pellet dealers to ration their hard-to-get pellets and raise prices significantly. Bags of pellets I bought from Fireside True Value and Agway were coming from as far away as Alberta, Canada — with the very obvious transportation energy use! New pellet producers are coming online and problems with the closest producer — New England Pellet in Jaffrey, New Hampshire — have been fixed, so this is likely to be less of a concern in the future. But it will always be a risk — you can’t produce your own pellets. Lots of plastic bagsI also struggled with the issue of buying pellets in 40-pound plastic bags and generating all that plastic waste. Pellet dealers are thinking about this too. My last pellet delivery was several 1,300-pound reusable “totes” that are delivered on pallets. I paid a deposit that I’ll get back for these totes. I use five-gallon buckets to carry the pellets upstairs to my pellet stove.Larger users of pellets can install galvanized-steel, outdoor silos and get their pellets delivered in bulk — without requiring any plastic. (You can see one of these at the new senior housing facility on Route 35 in Townshend.) Soon, suspended fabric bags with bottom outlets designed for garage or basement installation may be available for those wanting to buy pellets in bulk. Note, though, that high summer humidity levels could cause problems with bulk pellets if they aren’t kept totally dry; one of the advantages of the 40-pound bags is that they’re tightly sealed.As with any combustion device, proper installation and operation are crucial for safety. Accumulated ash and “clinker” have to vacuumed out of the bottom of the pellet stove regularly. Because this ash or clinker may be hot, a specialized metal vacuum cleaner with flexible metal hose is recommended for use with pellet stoves. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I resisted buying a pellet stove for a long time for a number of reasons. First, I would be tied to a fuel source that I don’t have control over — and whose price might go up if demand exceeds supply.Second, pellet stoves don’t work without electricity, and I didn’t want to risk freezing pipes in the event of a power outage. Third, I don’t really like the noise of the fan and the blowtorch-like flame. Fourth, I had heard about technical problems with early pellet stoves. And fifth, good pellet stoves cost a lot.While most of these concerns still apply, I went ahead a bought a pellet stove last summer.Here’s why.Unlike wood stoves, today’s advanced, thermostatically controlled, auto-igniting pellet stoves operate with very little intervention. Stacking firewood, bringing armfuls in from the woodshed every few days, and dealing with the mess aren’t required (though you still have to deal with bags of pellets — more on that below). So a pellet stove can operate more like an oil or gas heating system — by simply setting the thermostat. Pellet stove also generate much less pollution than wood stoves, which is important to me. RELATED ARTICLES Heating With Wood PelletsWhat’s the Greenest Option for Home Heating?GBA Product Guide: Heating StovesHeating With Wood Safely and EfficientlyShould Green Homes Burn Wood?Wood Stoves: Safety First Are Masonry Heaters a Good Match for Superinsulated Houses?How to Provide Makeup Air for a Wood StoveHeating a Tight, Well-Insulated Housecenter_img These stoves have electric fansUnlike wood stoves, pellet stoves use an electric fan to supply air to the combustion chamber. This fan-assisted combustion is cleaner and there’s no chance of smoldering. Rather than radiating heat passively from the surface of the stove, pellet stoves use a second fan to deliver heat by forced convection. This throws the heat further into the room, but it contributes to the noise concern and requires electricity. Pellet stoves have integral hoppers for storing pellets; mine holds 80 pounds (two bags worth) — enough for several days of typical use.Pellet stove technology has developed considerably over the past five years. From what I’ve read and from experts I’ve talked with, the Quadra-Fire AE (Advanced Energy) pellet combustion technology is the most advanced on the market. My Mt. Vernon has performed flawlessly so far. I chose this pellet stove because of its ability to burn different fuels. The sophisticated programmable control allows you to burn such fuels as wood pellets, dried corn, sunflower seeds, etc.; programming in a different fuel changes the combustion conditions and fuel feed accordingly. If new fuels become available, such as grass pellets, I’ll be able to download a software upgrade to adjust the stove operation accordingly. This stove also allows me to regulate the blower speed, which can help to minimize noise, program in different temperatures for different days and times of day, and control the temperature swing (which influences how often the stove comes on). There is a lot that could go wrong though; I’ll see how it holds up. I still heat with oil and a wood stove in our house, but I installed a Quadra-Fire Mt. Vernon AE pellet stove in the apartment and home office above our garage. It’s given me a great chance to try out this technology. I provide some background and observations on pellet stoves — and pellet management — below.last_img read more


Revenue Control Unit and Treasury Department Reopens

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 09 Sept 2015 – Almost two weeks after being shut down due mold and other sanitary reasons the Treasury Department and Revenue Control Unit has officially reopened as of 8am, today, Wednesday, September 9th.Persons can now return to the location at Town Centre Mall, Downtown, Providenciales to conduct government related transactions and business. Related Items:reopens, revenue control, treasury department Recommended for you A Pearl wins Graceway Supermarkets prize car Eliza Simons Primary reopens today Front Street Grand Turk re-openslast_img read more


PDM reviews to improve accountability synergy says Premier

first_img ALERT # 2 ON POTENTIAL TROPICAL CYCLONE NINE ISSUED BY THE BAHAMAS DEPARTMENT OF METEOROLOGY THURSDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2019 AT 9 PM EDT Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Recommended for you Electricity Cost of Service Study among the big agenda items at September 11 Cabinet meeting Related Items:#magneticmedianews The Luxury of Grace Bay in Down Town Provo Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, TCI, February 21, 2017 – Reviews of Statutory boards and overhauls of systems are a focus of the new PDM Administration and in speaking to Magnetic Media this past Saturday, during the Middle Caicos mini regatta, the Premier said her team is pushing the procurement process which has seen changes for the swifter granting of tenders.“We are yet to commission a major one on the statutory bodies, but there are reviews going on with individual statutory bodies, a large number of them fall under me, so we are looking at them individually.  And then we look at them collectively to control expenditure and to make sure that we are all in sync and that we don’t have little governments that are functioning alongside national government, and that’s where we are.  But it is along the line of making sure that it functions properly, and also to control expenditure and to do what it is set out to do, and people are going to feel us in that area.”The Budget Communication, said Premier Sharlene Robinson, who is also the Finance Minister will come before the constitutional deadline of July; it will be presented in the House of Assembly in May.#MagneticMediaNewslast_img read more