Project Focuses on Diversifying Midwest Farms

Two Iowa State University researchers will join a five-year project that seeks to make Midwestern agriculture more resilient by moving away from the dominant corn-soybean rotation. The $10 million project is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Iowa State joins Purdue University researchers, who say, “Growing only a rotation of corn and soybeans is not necessarily sustainable economically, environmentally or socially.” The project will work with farmers in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa to evaluate alternative cropping systems that can be used in the Midwest. Researchers will evaluate small grains and forage crops in rotations, perennial forage or bioenergy crops, agroforestry, horticultural food crops and grazed livestock. The research proposal received letters of support from farmers, industry organizations, academic institutions, food companies and environmental organizations. Iowa State’s J. Arbuckle says, “The project will focus on facilitating diversification that leads to greater economic stability for farmers and agroecological system resilience.”

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