Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough, Waterhemp’s Evolution & More
Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Re-Enters the Discussion on Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy announced a scientific breakthrough in nuclear fusion was achieved this week when a controlled-fusion reaction achieved “fusion ignition” for the first time on earth. In other words, the experiment produced more energy that it consumed. Nuclear fusion has long been viewed as a holy grail of clean, sustainable, theoretically limitless energy. You can read the DOE’s announcement here.
What does this have to do with agriculture? Nothing in the short-term, but it could be monumental for the future of U.S. ag. A significant portion of U.S. crops are grown for renewable fuel feedstocks, along with enormous investment in facilities and plants to process and produce renewable, crop-based fuels. Likewise, many express doubt that the U.S. ag equipment fleet can be electrified. Although nuclear fusion as a energy source is still years down the road, when it becomes reality it would make a sizeable portion of the ag sector irrelevant. The Wall Street Journal has a discussion of when nuclear fusion might become a true energy source you can read here.
Intensive Farming Transforms Native Plant into a Difficult Weed
A team of international researchers recently published its findings that common waterhemp has been transformed into a persistent and pervasive weed by modern farming practices. The team sequenced the DNA of waterhemp from modern farms to compare with the DNA of historical samples as far back as 1820. The comparison allowed the researchers to study the plant’s genetic evolution and found hundreds of genes that allow current waterhemp populations to thrive in agricultural environments. While waterhemp is native to North America, it was not a problematic weed until more recent times and has become very difficult to control. You can read more here.
South Dakota Plans to Restrict Foreign Ownership of Ag Land
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced this week that she is proposing legislation to restrict the purchase of agricultural land in the State by foreign interests. The proposed law would create a new board, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – South Dakota, to investigate proposed land purchases by foreign entities and make a recommendation for approval or denial to the Governor. You can read more here.