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OSU receives $2.6 million grant to study regenerative agriculture

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Media Contact:
Brian Brus | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-6792 | bbrus@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University has obtained greater than $2.6 million to analysis methods to
enhance agricultural manufacturing whereas lowering environmental impacts, stated Kevin Wagner, director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Center at OSU.

It would require a holistic method, Wagner stated. Climate, livestock grazing, crop
rotation, hydrology, regional economics and extra – the programs in regenerative agriculture
are simply too massive, advanced and intertwined for a easy answer.

To that finish, OSU researchers will work carefully with Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Texas A&M University and different universities within the area on a five-year mission
funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. OSU will obtain greater than $2.6 million of the $10 million aggressive grant.

“Regenerative agriculture is really a hot topic right now across much of the country,”
stated Wagner, the mission’s principal investigator at OSU. “Our aim is to discover methods
to not solely maintain manufacturing but in addition enhance the land and different sources on the
identical time.”

Most analysis on regenerative agriculture has usually occurred in areas of the
U.S. with 40 to 50 inches of rain yearly, an element that considerably impacts analysis
outcomes. Less study has been centered on areas like southwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma-Texas
panhandles, which have extra variable, arid circumstances and wholly completely different challenges
in managing livestock and crops, cotton particularly.

Although the scope of labor beneath the grant is expansive with a number of multi-year elements,
Wagner stated some points will profit producers immediately. For instance, Jason Warren, OSU Extension soil and water conservation specialist, has plans for a soil stewardship schooling
program comparable to the construction of the favored Master Irrigator Program for farmers, and a curriculum might be tailored for regional 4-H Youth Development summer time packages as nicely.

Among his efforts, Wagner will monitor the amount and high quality of runoff water from
fields the place regenerative practices have been carried out, lead the modeling workforce
and help with stakeholder engagement and outreach. In addition to Wagner and Warren,
there are a number of different
key OSU researchers whose work will overlap in lots of areas. A pattern of these efforts
embody:

  • Seth Byrd, OSU Extension specialist, cotton agronomy – assess practices in steady cotton manufacturing programs to obtain agricultural intensification, larger
    profitability and improved local weather resiliency.
  • Andrea Jilling, OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences affiliate professor, environmental soil chemistry – collaborate on an asynchronous, on-line transdisciplinary problem-based course entitled, Regenerative
    Agriculture in Semi-arid Ecosystems, which might be built-in into undergraduate and
    graduate programs at OSU.
  • Alex Rocateli, OSU Extension specialist, forage programs – develop forage programs and implement
    demonstrations in producer and experimental station fields, in addition to help with
    outreach and Extension packages.
  • Sumit Sharma, OSU Extension specialist, irrigation administration – set up cowl crop experiments
    on the
    Oklahoma Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Goodwell, Oklahoma.

Many members of the workforce additionally might be concerned in arranging regional on-farm area
days and enormous, multi-state conferences hosted in Texas and Oklahoma for disseminating
analysis outcomes. 

Additionally, Ali Mirchi, assistant professor within the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, will use knowledge collected by the analysis workforce to develop fashions to consider the watershed
scale results of regenerative practices. The Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender
(APEX) mannequin might be used to predict results of administration selections on soil loss,
water high quality and crop yields on the area scale.

“With the sphere knowledge collected, we’ll find a way to develop fashions in order that in a pc
atmosphere we are able to consider numerous situations in a time-efficient, cost-effective
approach to take a look at impacts on soil well being and hydrology-related processes,” Mirchi stated.
“Although you may want to attempt every thing in the true world, it may be very costly
and take a really, very very long time with lots of manpower.

“It’s vital that we’ll have colleagues within the area gathering knowledge on numerous
fronts and dealing immediately with producers and different stakeholders.”

Wagner stated carbon sequestration will even be an element to take into account, or how regenerative
practices assist enhance the soil’s means to maintain moisture and assist Oklahoma scale back
its carbon footprint, main to a extra resilient ecosystem. Over time, these modifications
additionally might lead to greater ranges of agricultural intensification and larger profitability.

“It’s one of the points that attracted me to this mission, as a result of I’ve lengthy been
in soil well being and the way it impacts water sources at a watershed or regional scale.
Most prior analysis has centered on the advantages on the area scale, however we want to
take a wider view,” Wagner stated.

“With higher floor cowl and soil administration, we hope to affirm with this analysis
that there might be much less water working off and that the runoff might be cleaner. In
explicit, we’ll be evaluating integrating cowl crops and grazing of these cowl
crops into cotton manufacturing programs and figuring out how that advantages soils, water
and manufacturing.”

The OSU mission encompasses short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives over the subsequent
5 years. However, Wagner and Mirchi stated the information produced beneath the NIFA grant
will seemingly yield extra analysis alternatives, in addition to further advantages to Oklahoma
and comparable areas all over the world.

The grant is a part of the USDA’s current funding of greater than $146 million in sustainable agricultural analysis initiatives aimed toward enhancing a sturdy, resilient,
climate-smart meals and agricultural system. NIFA’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems
program focuses on a broad base of wanted analysis options, starting from addressing
labor challenges and selling land stewardship to correcting local weather change impacts
in agriculture and significant wants in meals and diet.

“USDA is tackling pressing challenges dealing with American agriculture and communities throughout
our nation,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated. “Critical points like meals
insecurity, drought resilience and response, animal illness prevention and market
disruption require investments to assist meet these challenges. This is the time for
agriculture, forestry and rural communities to act. Together, we are able to paved the way
with investments in science and analysis and climate-smart options that feed and
nourish households, enhance the profitability and resilience of producers, enhance forest
well being, whereas creating new revenue alternatives and constructing wealth that stays in
rural communities.”