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UW Part of $10 Million Project to Study Diverse Perennial Forage Systems

December 7, 2021
man speaking to a group of people in a field
UW Extension forage agroecologist Anowar Islam describes research at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle. Islam is working with a group of UW scientists that is part of a multistate team launching research into perennial forage systems and helping promote their adoption. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming scientists are part of a multistate team that is launching research into perennial forage systems and helping promote their adoption.

UW will serve as a research hub for Western states to collect, organize and analyze soil samples.

“We will measure and compare numerous production, environmental, social and economic factors,” says Anowar Islam, UW Extension forage agroecologist and a professor in the UW Department of Plant Sciences. “UW will play an important role in initiating and executing this highly relevant and timely project.”

The project involves more than 50 researchers and stakeholders from 23 universities; two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service centers; and 12 farmer organizations, industry groups, nongovernmental organizations and government agencies.

Funding is through a $10 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Prevailing agricultural systems in the U.S. are dominated by annual crop monocultures that lack resilience to extreme weather and are challenged by soil erosion and other environmental issues, says project director Valentin Picasso, who is an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Agronomy.

“Through this new project, we hope to promote the transformation of the landscape to be more resilient by integrating more perennial crops and forages with livestock,” Picasso says.

Part of the effort involves a nationwide network of 50 farm pairs -- one farm already using diverse perennial forage systems paired with one interested in transitioning toward more diverse perennial systems -- that represent all of the major agro-ecoregions of the United States.

The team will share results through outreach and education materials throughout the five-year term of the award.

UW also will serve as one of the three coordinators -- along with Maryland and New York -- of the education program to:

-- Recruit and instruct high school teachers and summer undergraduate student interns on diverse perennial circular systems, resilience, economic services and economic value.

-- Develop curriculum materials for K-12 student education.

-- Partner with local community entities and projects to create learning programs and opportunities.

For more information, email Islam at mislam@uwyo.edu or call (307) 766-4151.

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