Feeding 9 Billion People and Create a Healthier, More Resilient Agriculture.

That is the challenge taken up by the faculty, staff and students of the Department of Agronomy.  We generate and apply knowledge about plants that feed and benefit humankind.  We find and implement answers to problems and opportunities concerning efficiency and sustainability of crop production and in safe and environmentally-sound ways. We generate knowledge on the genetics, biochemistry and physiology of plants. We study the interactions among cropping systems, climate, and the environment. We work to ensure that agricultural systems and products in Wisconsin and the world are able to meet rapidly-changing needs and those of future generations.

  • Planting corn plots

Journal Club – April 21st

Journal Club Will Meet on April 21st Room 475 Noon Next week's journal club will focus on organic agriculture - a topic that has been rather scarce in journal club lately!   Join Rachel Weil from the Agroecology department as she leads discussion about organic farming and environmental impact. One would assume that organic farming is better for the environment, in whichever way that is to be defined, but how, exactly? And hoe does it compare to conventional practices? The attached paper by Tuomisto et al. explores this, and uses a meta-analysis of European organic farming to determine its effects on the environment. When looking at output per area farmed, it was found that organic farms fare better when it comes to soil organic matter, nutrient losses, and greenhouse gas emissions, but when looked at in a different scale of measurement, the 'better' system might not be so clear cut.   We hope that you read over their interesting article and come prepared to discuss the place and the value of organic farming in your research, the larger agricultural context, and the future of food production. Tuomisto et al
April 16, 2014
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University Lecture – Roger Blobaum

Building a Movement: Origins and Evolution of the Organic Farming Movement Roger Blobaum Formerly of Ceres Trust Founder, Organic University Board Member, MOSES Thursday, May 8, 2014 4 pm 1420 Microbial Sciences Building Sponsored by the Department of Horticulture and the Department of Agronomy
April 15, 2014
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Linking Agriculture and Nutrition in Mexico

Many of the World's poorest and most vulnerable people never see a trained medical specialist—but they all need to eat. Having regular access to nutritious food is at least as important for their health and well-being as improving local medical care. One of our best tools for getting this message across is a field course titled “Linking Agriculture and Nutrition in Mexico,” for which Tanumihardjo partners with a rotating set of CALS agronomy faculty to lead groups of students to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Texcoco, Mexico. Better known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT (pronounced “SIM-it”), the center focuses work with maize (corn) and wheat on breeding and production methods aimed at supporting the needs of small-scale or subsistence farmers. Unlike American farmers who use such inputs as machinery, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides to grow large amounts of one or two crops for processing, animal feed and export, subsistence farmers grow most or all of the food they eat themselves. For subsistence farmers, improving both yield and nutritional content is critical, but improvements must come without increasing reliance on costly ...
March 12, 2014
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Looking for “hotspots”

Researchers see promise in clusters of farmers who are willing to grow crops for biofuels. By Celia Luterbacher In their quest to make cellulosic biofuel a viable energy option, many researchers are looking to marginal lands—those unsuitable for growing food—as potential real estate for bioenergy crops. But what do farmers think of that? Brad Barham, a CALS/UW-Extension professor of agricultural and applied economics and a researcher with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), took the logical next step and asked them. Fewer than 30 percent were willing to grow nonedible cellulosic biofuel feedstocks—such as perennial grasses and short-rotation trees—on their marginal lands for a range of prices, Barham and his team found after analyzing responses from 300 farmers in southwestern Wisconsin. “Previous work in the area of marginal lands for bioenergy has been based primarily on the landscape’s suitability, without much research on its economic viability,” says Barham, who sent out the survey in 2011. “What’s in play is how much farmers are willing to change their land-use behavior.” Barham’s results are a testament to the complex reality of implementing commercial cellulosic biofuel systems. Despite ...
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