Building Team Chemistry: The Bigger Picture Behind Cows & Climate
Animal Biology Graduate Student, UC Davis
Year Awarded 2021
FFAR award amount $1,997,454
Total award amount $3,997,423
Location Minneapolis, MN
Matching Funders Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Cargill, Friends of the Mississippi River, Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, NORI, The Land Institute, Walton Family Foundation
Summer crops such as wheat, rice and corn can be profitable for farmers, but post-harvest farmland is unproductive during the off-season. This farmland is also exposed to water-related challenges, including soil nutrient loss, erosion, and precipitation runoff. Winter-hardy annual crops and perennial crops can help prevent these water challenges by covering the land. In addition to these environmental benefits, these crops can enhance overall farm productivity and profit by producing valuable agricultural commodities.
Farmers are hesitant to plant these crops because most are not fully developed. End-use markets, supply-chain logistics, seed supplies, and reliable production methods are all critical to farmer adoption. Many of these crops also require breeding improvements to improve yields.
This research aims to reduce these risks by developing sustainable supply chains for several cover crops. Researchers are working with partners in many sectors to ensure that there is a ready and willing buyer for these crops. Ultimately, this research provides farmers with greater financial incentives to plant these crops – and reap the environmental benefits.
The project focuses on developing market-driven strategies to increase the adoption of certain emerging dual-purpose cover crops that, if widely cultivated, could greatly enhance sustainable water management in agriculture.
Institutional Buyer & Retailer Benefits
This research is developing and scaling supply chains for cover crops. The research team is examining potential markets, water management needs and other environmental and social benefits of dual-purpose cover crops. With this information, the researchers are developing a multi-level strategy to create larger supply and demand for these crops.
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