Greenhouse Gas Emissions Focus of Research Conducted by Assistant Professor Katy Smith, Ph.D., at U of M, Crookston

As the plants mature over the summer, research by University of Minnesota, Crookston Assistant Professor Katy Smith, Ph.D., is steadily making progress. The study, which began in March 2009, is being conducted in collaboration with Associate Professor Albert Sims from the Northwest Research and Outreach Center focuses on emissions of greenhouse gases and the technologies that can reduce the emissions of those gases.

Smith's research involves obtaining gas samples from a wheat test plot that are taken weekly throughout the growing season and transported back to the laboratory for analysis. She has been assisted by Senior Tamara Luna, Crookston, Minn., in the data gathering process. Luna, a biology major, has worked closely with Smith as an undergraduate research assistant since fall 2008.            
Each week, samples are taken using a syringe along with recording the soil temperature and moisture, from each of 36 wheat plots located east of Crookston. The data will help compare an environmentally friendly fertilizer with its more conventional counterpart. Yield will also be checked after the final samples are taken in the fall and the grain is harvested.

The research Smith is conducting will contribute to a growing body of information concerning greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices and how agricultural practices can be modified to maintain yields while also minimizing the impact on the environment.

When the wheat is harvested and gas sampling completed for the 2009 growing season,  data will be compiled and statistically analyzed to determine the impact of fertilizer treatments on the flux of the greenhouse and air quality. It will not conclude Smith's research however, as she plans to continue working in this area of research.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers more than 25 applied-science undergraduate degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Katy Smith, assistant professor, 218-8262 ( ; Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director of communications, 218-281-8432 (