Mobile Wind Machine Being Used to Improve Corn Standability

February 22, 2009 06:00 PM

Pam Smith, Farm Journal Crops & Issues Editor
There's a cold wind blowing through Iowa, but last week it was even more pronounced at the Pioneer Hi-Bred Campus in Johnston, Iowa.  There, a 20-ton, space-age looking machine nicknamed Boreas--a name inspired by the Greek god of the cold north wind--was literally blowing journalists away.
Pioneer, a DuPont Company, unveiled mobile wind machines, at a press conference, as the latest innovation to increase agricultural productivity. The machines, capable of producing turbulent winds exceeding 100 mph will be used to test the ability of experimental corn hybrids to withstand violent wind storms that cause standability issues and subsequent yield loss. The company is also researching the reasons behind brittle snap--breakage of corn stalks by violent winds, usually during periods of fast growth.
Scientists at Pioneer began using Boreas five years ago, but kept the technology under wraps until patents were filed. Prior to Boreas, researchers depended on natural storm events and mechanical "push" tests, which used a bar or other instrument to physically push the corn to simulate damage due to high winds. The wind machines represent a transformation in how Pioneer plant researchers approach field research studies for standability traits by imitating the variety and intensity of winds that occur during violent storms.
The machines are considered to be a tool in the company's Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system toolbox and a component of Pioneer's commitment to increase corn yields 40% within the next nine years.

Pioneer uses a mobile wind machine, nicknamed Boreas, to simulate wind storms. Through this research, scientists at Pioneer hope to improve corn standability.

You can email Pam Smith at

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