Production and Sustainable Agriculture

Just two feet of soil largely determines whether the world has food or not. Our research is creating a better understanding of agro-ecosystems, the processes that drive these systems, and what impact our crop production practices are having on those two feet.

We analyze crop production at the cellular, whole plant, and landscape levels, and create meaningful technologies that improve production, reduce risks, and enhance the soil that we all depend upon. World-class research is underway in soil nutrient uptake modeling; cultural, mechanical, and biological management of cropland and invasive weed species such as Japanese knotweed; organic waste recycling, and conservation tillage and direct seeding effects on soil properties.

Organic farming researchers are conducting whole farm trials and analyzing the long-term biological effects on the soil. Our organic farming research results can be found in premier journals and even as cover stories of national news programs. We are evaluating the efficacy of various soil conservation practices such as direct seeding, modified tillage systems, cover cropping, and long-term perennial cover. Our researchers are evaluating a number of organic waste products as soil amendments, wood pulp substitute, and even building materials. Best management practices such as green manure for improving soil tilth and field specific irrigation scheduling are being developed to reduce pest levels and improve environmental conditions.

Bioenergy will be a major commodity in the very near future. Our faculty, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy, recently initiated several bioenergy studies. We are developing technical information on biofuel species adaptation, energy conversion efficiencies, and the effect of biofuel production on sustainability.