SARE Funds Four Sustainable Agriculture Projects in Wisconsin

The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Program has awarded four new sustainable agriculture Research and Education grants in Wisconsin.

  • Michael Bell at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems has recently been selected to receive a $199,246 grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) for the project The Fruit and Nut Compass: Developing a Tool and Guiding Principles for Diversified Farms.
    “The Fruit and Nut Compass Project will develop a quantitative tool and a set of qualitative principles that will support fruit, nut, and berry farmers with diversified operations in making evidence-based decisions about integrated cropping choices, management practices, and marketing channels. By sharing research findings, training farmers to use the Fruit and Nut Compass Tool, and using targeted and innovative outreach, the project will lead to more productive, profitable, and sustainable diversified farm enterprises,” said Bell.
  • Greg Lawless at the University of Wisconsin Extension was awarded a $199,943 grant from NCR-SARE for the project Systems Approach to Food Waste Composting for Urban Agriculture.
    “Through an interdisciplinary systems approach supported by the Cooperative Institute for Urban Agriculture and Nutrition, we will combine a macro-level analysis of food waste supply and compost demand with micro-level compost trials and supply chain analysis on a 1.25 acre urban farm in Milwaukee. The primary outcome will be a collaborative strategy to increase supply of affordable compost to enhance the profitability of urban farming that provides a model for other North Central region cities,” said Lawless.
  • Craig Ficenec at the Sand County Foundation in Wisconsin was selected to receive a $197,678 grant from NCR-SARE for the project Advancing Cost Effective Water Quality Improvement in the North Central Region Through Farmer-led Engagement for Prairie Filter Strips.
    Ficenec commented “This project will stimulate the planting of diverse perennial vegetated prairie filter strips (“prairie strips”) on Wisconsin farms to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff while maintaining economic returns. Research shows that prairie strips deliver significantly greater water quality benefits than standard conservation practices alone. This project will work with Wisconsin and Iowa farmers, university researchers, private agricultural consultants, and agency staff to introduce this practice in Wisconsin, predict environmental and economic outcomes, and communicate results.”
  • Valentin Picasso at the University of Wisconsin has been awarded a $200,000 grant from NCR-SARE for the project Grazing Management of ‘Kernza’ Intermediate Wheatgrass as a Dual Purpose Crop.
    “This project will determine the effect of grazing timing on Kernza intermediate wheatgrass forage yields and quality, animal performance, farm economics, and subsequent grain yields. Six Intermediate wheatgrass sites will be managed with different grazing regimens – Spring graze, Fall graze, or both – on-farm and on experimental stations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This project responds to farmer-driven questions on the potential of Kernza as a dual-purpose crop for grain and livestock,” said Picasso.

These grants were awarded as part of NCR-SARE’s Research and Education Program which is a competitive grant program for researchers and educators involved in projects that explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems. Research and Education projects include a strong outreach component and significant farmer/rancher or other end user involvement from inception of the idea through implementation of the project. NCR-SARE administers each of its grant programs, each with specific priorities, audiences, and timelines. The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education.

Funding considerations are made based on how well the applicant articulates the nature of the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. A collection of farm and non-farm citizens, the AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations.