Today’s quick hits, Jan. 24, 2019

Plants ‘blink,’ adjust photosynthesis (Science Daily): In much the same way that the human eye adjusts to changes in sunlight, plants adjust photosynthesis to protect their leaves from rapid changes in light intensity.

Mixing solar panels and crops can pay off (Civil Eats): Agrivoltaics can be a money-maker on farms by intermingling solar panels with crops, although crop yields and electrical generation are lower in the dual-use system than if the land were devoted solely to either crops or a solar array, according to research in Massachusetts.

Too much nitrogen on Iowa farms (Cedar Rapids Gazette): Farmers in the Floyd River and Rock River watersheds, a part of western Iowa with a high density of large-scale feedlots, apply twice as much nitrogen, in the form of livestock manure and commercial fertilizer, as recommended, resulting in higher nitrate levels in streams, say researchers.

Soda-tax preemption called undemocratic (San Francisco Chronicle): In an opinion piece in the medical journal JAMA, three doctors from the University of California-San Francisco say a soda industry tactic to prevent localities from voting on soda taxes could have a devastating impact on public health and is anti-democratic.

Chinese grain imports plunge (Reuters): The trade war and high tariffs dramatically cut into farm imports by China last month — no sorghum was imported, barley was down by 75 percent, and corn shipments fell by 8 percent.

Fringe states key in soybean shifts (Agricultural Economic Insights): States on the fringe of the Corn Belt, such as Missouri, North Dakota, and Kansas, which have rapidly expanded soybean plantings since 2010, are likely to show large acreage swings this year as farmers cut back on soybeans due to low prices.