OSU Study Finds Urban Green Spaces and Help Support and Protect Bees

While there are lots of reasons to convert vacant urban lots into green space such as improving neighborhoods and reducing blight, new research has found that efforts like these reclamations also end up benefiting bees.

And Ohio State study found that their experimental plots surrounded by 15 or more acres of connected green space or flowering prairies containing native plants created conditions and spaces in which native bees would thrive and be protected by predatory wasps.

Of course bees are important for pollination but also insect pest control. Both these services are important for rural farms and urban agricultural projects which are growing in popularity. In Cleveland, Ohio where the research was conducted there are over 200 community farms and gardens.

Creating optimal conditions for bees to live in will help protect them. They are currently challenged by habitat loss, climate change, pesticides, and invasive specifies.

The researchers hoped to assess urban greening strategies that would help support multiple kinds of ecosystem services provided by plants and insects. While typical turf grass does support some insect life different kinds of green spaces, if created, would benefit the environment and our friends the bees even more so.


OSU Faculty Member to Create User-Friendly Machine Learning Tools for Farmers

Faculty at OSU have launched a three-year long project, funded by the federal government, that will develop advanced software tools to help farmers or others analyze and respond to changing soil conditions.

While there are currently several products available on the market that work with data on soil moisture and how water gets from the atmosphere to soil to plants. But there is no consensus on the best tools for on-farm decision making and the tools available are to easy to access or use.

This new project would develop more user-friendly tools for those in agribusiness, agriculture, resource management, anyone who would use machine learning and other complicated tools.

The new software tools would provide more timely data and at a higher resolution. It would make it easier and faster to utilize the data for decision-making.

While the tools would be used for precision agricultural scheduling, irrigation scheduling, calculating crop yield and analyzing data on insect and disease outbreaks. Water and resource management and dealing with the impacts of extreme weather are other it’s the software would help with.


New Study Finds “Exoskeletons” Could Cause More Harm than Good for Warehouse Workers

Workers on assembly lines or warehouses often wear devices colloquially known as an exoskeleton, which is supposed to help protect their lower backs from stress. A new study found, however, that because they are competing for resources in our brains it may cancel out the physical benefit of wearing an exoskeleton.

The exoskeleton is attached to the user’s chest and legs. It is designed to help control posture and motion during lifting to protect the lower back and reduce the possibility of injury.

The study found that when people wore the exoskeletons while doing things that required them to think about their actions, their brains worked overtime and their bodies fought with the exoskeleton rather than working together with it. Because of the competition for brain resources the physical benefits are negated.

Researchers equated it to dancing with a really bad partner. The exoskeleton is trying to anticipate your moves, but it isn’t working. This causes changes in the brain which in turn changes what muscles the brain recruits. This could lead to pain and injuries, according to the research.

The exoskeleton, which is attached to the user’s chest and legs, is designed to help control posture and motion during lifting to protect the lower back and reduce the possibility of injury.


Posted in OSU

OSU Researchers Study Perception of Aromas

For scientists looking to design food in ways that will optimize their consumption for either improving nutrition or combating obesity, flavor is very important.

However, when it comes to flavor it has more to do with what is actually in one’s mouth. Our sense of smell is not just a major contributor to sensing aroma but is also important when it comes to what we eat and how we taste it.

Wanting to capitalize on the powerful senses of smell in the realm of flavor development researchers are looking at the process of how aroma makes the route to the olfactory system, through the nose or the back of the throat and how it influences the scent.

In the new study participants were asked to identify a common aroma like rose. They were most accurate when they sampled the scents all in the same manner, such as a sniffing the scent from a vial or drinking a solution. But this result was expected.

What surprised researchers was that participants were also better at identifying aromas when the reference scent (the one they were looking to find a match for) were not labeled with a familiar name. In fact, the less they knew about the reference aroma, the better their accuracy. Telling scientists that aroma detection, like much else, is a combination of learning, memory and cognitive strategy.

The team was to look into other factors that can influence the perception of aromas and flavors—anything from genetics or the microbes that live in our nasal passages.