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Missouri, Texas researchers use drought machine to help develop hardier, heat-resistant crops
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) ' Researchers at the University of Missouri are using machines that simulate drought to better understand how plants respond to a lack of water.
Their goal is to help develop drought-resistant crops for use by farmers.
The machines are like motorized greenhouses on rails. Rain gauges trigger an oversized garage door that covers the researchers' corn and soybean plants at the first sign of water.
A handful of similar devices can be found elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas, particularly in China and India. Landscape researchers at Texas A&M University use drought simulators to test turf grasses for the ability to withstand summer dry spells.
Missouri researcher Felix Fritschi (FRITCH-ee) says the machines give researchers an advantage by letting them control how much water plants receive at different stages of development.