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The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) is a research center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

CIAS was created in 1989 to build UW sustainable agriculture research programs that respond to farmer and citizen needs – and involve stakeholders in setting the research agenda.

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Our Goals

Four people working with agriculture

At CIAS we research how particular integrated farming systems contribute to environmental, economic, social, and intergenerational sustainability.

Our research shows farmers can cut costs, increase profits, and improve their quality of life while enhancing the environment.

Our outreach and training programs help farmers, educators, crop consultants, businesses and eaters put these research findings to work.

How We Build Community

 Oneida Walk (Credit Michel Wattiaux)

CIAS programs are unique because of our commitment to involve citizens, practitioners, and academics – representing diverse disciplines – as partners on our research teams.

Our research and outreach benefits small and medium size farms and food-related businesses of any size or scale.

How We Work

Participatory Action Research

Participatory Action Research infographic

We partner with communities to co-generate knowledge. We seek to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and with reflection.

Key concept: Participatory Action Research
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Transdisciplinary research

Person holding soil in thier hand

Our research strategy crosses many disciplinary boundaries with the end goal of creating a holistic approach to support the Wisconsin Idea.

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Systems research

Infographic describing the three pillars of CIAS work

Systems research is a way to understand complexity and address wicked problems. Researchers start with the premise that behavior is a consequence of structure.

Key concept: Systems research

Our Current Work

Examples of how the Center For Integrated Agricultural Systems fulfills the Wisconsin Idea, bridging between UW-Madison and all of Wisconsin.

Farming Systems

How farm resources is assembled within its environment. 

Including farm viability and beginner farmers, labor, soil health, grazing, cover crops, and emerging crops.

A person pointing at the corn soil Explore Farming Systems
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Food Systems

All of the interactions and people involved along the food value chain. 

Including food transportation, farm to institution, dairy supply management, and local and regional systems.

Vegetables in boxes Explore Food Systems
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Initiatives where CIAS is involved in the latest innovations in the farm industry.

Including Organics, Grassland 2.0, Agriculture of the Middle, and other current research topics.

Soybean plant leaves Explore our Partner Programs


CIAS reports on its activities annually. In 2020, we conducted a self study and a Ten Year Review to highlight our third decade of activities to advance sustainable agricultural and food systems.

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2021 (pdf) 2018 (pdf) 2015 (pdf)
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2020 (pdf) 2017 (pdf) 2014 (pdf)