Research and Extension

Interseeding cover crops with Indigenous cornexpand_more

How can we collaborate with Indigenous growers in Wisconsin support their cropping systems?
What is the role of plant-microbial feedbacks in Indigenous cropping systems?

Funding source(s): USDA NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship (Grant # 2023-67011-40522), Ford Foundation

My project seeks to understand the current ecological complexities within Indigenous cropping systems. I collaborate with Indigenous corn growers in Wisconsin interested in growing cover crops with their traditional varieties to enhance their soil health. By changing what cover crops are grown with corn, I can quantify the plant interactions between corn and cover crops to ensure the best outcomes for their corn harvest. Belowground , I characterize how the microbial communities on roots and in soils to the changes in crop composition aboveground. The research allows us to directly support Indigenous food sovereignty efforts while creating a better framework to facilitate these types of projects for the future. 

Barriers and opportunities for organic grain farmers and farmers interested in transitioning to organic grain production  expand_more

For organic grain farmers and those interested in transitioning to organic production, what barriers do they face to successful organic grain production and how could these be overcome?

There is a strong need to increase organic grain production in the U.S. Consumer demand for organic products is high and domestic supply of organic grains cannot meet this demand – organic sales comprise about 6% of the U.S. food market but only 1% of U.S. farmland is managed organically. Despite this opportunity, organic grain production lags behind demand likely due to a range of barriers and challenges farmers face during the daunting organic transition process. We are interested in investigating the specific barriers for organic grain farmers in Wisconsin and what could serve to overcome these barriers. This will help serve the farmers of Wisconsin and the U.S. need for more organic farmland.

OREI Mastitis Control Groupexpand_more

What are the variables causing Mastitis in organic dairy farms, and how can we help farmers take a preventative approach to mastitis management?

Funding source(s): USDA, specifically the Organic Research and Extension Initiative.

The OREI mastitis project looks to determine the various factors that are causing mastitis in dairy farms, and then create a tool to help organic farmers be more proactive on their disease management, lowering the number of cows having to be pulled off organic for treatment, and making organic farming easier for everyone.

Rural Partnerships Institute Projectexpand_more

Connecting Cultural Values and Indigenous Research towards Food System Resilience

Funding source(s): USDA NIFA through the Wisconsin Rural Partnerships Institute

The Tribal nations within the boundaries of Wisconsin increasingly face environmental challenges that threaten Native food systems and community resilience. At the same time, Wisconsin Tribes are developing and implementing innovative food system transformation efforts to enhance community food security, access to culturally-appropriate foods, and a return to traditional food economies. This project aims to support Tribal nations and a broad network of partners to co-create an understanding of high-priority, Indigenous-led research, education and outreach projects to help Wisconsin Tribes sustain and expand food sovereignty in the face of the state’s environmental challenges. The 28-person team will focus on five areas: Indigenous crop and livestock; community food systems and nutrition; wild rice; maple sugaring; and evaluation, communications and public participation.

Annual Research Reports