Summer Research Minigrant Program

2019 - Bembeneck, Blandt, Campbell, Favre, Isidore, Ugoretz, Karwowski, Landis, McIntosh, Schindler, Wypler

Corey Blandt’s participatory research, supported by a CIAS mini-grant, explored the evolution of the Spring Rose Grower’s Co-op, the obstacles and opportunities the co-op faced, and lessons learned along the way.

Nicole Karwowksi used her CIAS mini-grant to analyze flood mitigation programs, to better understand how farmers and homeowners can reduce flooding costs and improve land and water quality.

Aided by her CIAS mini-grant, Rachel Schindler did an in-depth inventory of beginning farmer programs in sustainable agriculture. 

sidebar_fold Created with Sketch.

Tracy Campbell’s CIAS mini-grant research aimed to provide farmers in Wisconsin’s Central Sands with information on nitrates found in their irrigation water, to save money on fertilizer while reducing nitrate leaching.

Greta Landis used her CIAS mini-grant to develop criteria that conservation biologists and cattle graziers can use to evaluate grazing for grassland habitat management.

With her CIAS mini-grant, Jaclyn Wypler conducted the first survey tailored to LGBT sustainable farmers.

sidebar_fold Created with Sketch.

Sarah Janes Ugoretz’s CIAS mini-grant research explored how certified organic vegetable farmers in Wisconsin are supporting, and might enhance, social and economic sustainability for themselves and their employees.

Hanna McIntosh used her CIAS mini-grant to assess biodegradable mulch films as a potential cultural control for spotted wing Drosophila in raspberries. 

Summary

Soil and water phosphorus under alternative grazing management in Wisconsin
Student researcher:
Brooke Bembeneck
Faculty advisor: Randy Jackson, Agronomy

Livestock grazing is a practice often promoted for its environmental benefits. Grazing livestock on perennial forages reduce soil disturbance and adds carbon to the soil, while reducing the transport of water and nutrients across the land. This project aims to improve understanding of how management intensities of perennial grass pastures affects ecosystem functions that underpin critical ecosystem services.

Spring Rose Growers Cooperative: Lessons from a food system co-op that’s pushing the envelope
Student researcher:
Corey Blandt
Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology

The Spring Rose Growers Cooperative (SRGC), a farmers’ co-op based in Verona, is a unique agricultural cooperative in a region where co-ops are omnipresent. It has provided socially disadvantaged producers in the Madison area with a range of services since 2011. This participatory project seeks to engage current and past SRGC stakeholders in a process that explores the evolution of the co-op over the last eight years, the obstacles and opportunities the co-op has faced, and lessons learned along the way.

Quantifying nitrate in irrigation water across the Wisconsin Central Sands
Student researcher:
Tracy Campbell
Faculty advisor: Chris Kucharik, Agronomy

Groundwater quality is a major concern in the Central Sands of Wisconsin. As a large vegetable-producing region with significant nitrogen inputs on sandy soil, the area is prone to nitrate leaching to groundwater. This project aims to increase the understanding of both spatial and temporal variability of nitrate levels found in groundwater across the Central Sands. The goal is to provide farmers with information to properly credit nitrate found in irrigation water in their nitrogen management plans. By doing so, farmers may save money on fertilizer while reducing nitrate leaching.

Interseeding red clover in cultivated Kernza to reduce weed pressure and achieve complete perennial cover
Student researcher:
Jeremie Favre
Faculty advisor: Valentin Picasso, Agronomy

Farmers in Wisconsin are interested in growing the perennial grain Kernza intermediate wheatgrass. Kernza growers regularly struggle to manage weeds during establishment, particularly on organic farms. One solution consists in planting the crop with a wide row spacing and cultivating the inter-row space. This project aims to investigate whether red clover can be established in a growing Kernza stand after the last spring cultivation and effectively suppress weeds before and after grain harvest.

Promoting resiliency:  Haitian farmers use indigenous farm management practices to strengthen their farms and communities 
Student researcher:
Brittany Isidore
Faculty advisors: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology; Randy Jackson, Agronomy

Farmers in developing countries increasingly rely on innovative, adaptive strategies in response to a changing climate and limited resources. In Haiti, farmers are responding to climate change by adapting indigenous practices to modern-day agricultural production. This participatory research project aims to identify how the use of indigenous farming practices in the St Raphael Haitian farming community promotes resiliency on farms and in the community, and has the potential to inform agricultural extension abroad.

Cultivating more than good food? Socio-economic sustainability in certified organic vegetable production
Student researcher:
Sarah Janes Ugoretz
Faculty advisor: Michael Bell, Community and Environmental Sociology

While the environmental benefits of organic vegetable production are widely recognized, the social and economic aspects remain under-explored. Labor plays an especially important role in this steadily-expanding industry, and while it is a common assumption, national organic standards don’t require farmers to establish and uphold specific criteria for fair labor standards. This project explores how certified organic vegetable farmers in Wisconsin are currently supporting and might enhance socio-economic sustainability for themselves and their employees.

The inundation situation: How rural communities respond to flooding through mitigation
Student researcher:
Nicole Karwowski
Faculty advisor: Corbett Grainger, Agricultural and Applied Economics

Flooding is the costliest natural disaster in the state of Wisconsin. Millions of dollars are spent rebuilding roads and homes, and insuring property and crops. Flood mitigation projects such as home buyouts, home elevation services, agricultural flood plain easements and wetland restorations are common flood mitigation projects. Analyzing these programs allow us to better understand how farmers and homeowners can reduce future flooding costs and improve land and water quality.

Evaluating grazing for conservation and habitat management in Wisconsin
Student researcher:
Greta Landis
Faculty advisor: Randy Jackson, Agronomy

Evaluation is often an afterthought in conservation agriculture, but developing an evaluation plan can improve communication and documentation, and identify sources of conflict in agroecosystems. Building on an ongoing collaboration with public agencies and livestock producers, this work will develop a set of evaluation criteria that conservation biologists and cattle graziers can use to assess grazing for grassland habitat management.

Agroecological assessment of biodegradable mulch films as a cultural control for spotted-wing drosophila in raspberry
Student researcher:
Hanna McIntosh
Faculty advisors: Christelle Guedot, Entomology; Amaya Atucha, Horticulture

This project will assess biodegradable mulch films as a potential cultural control for spotted-wing drosophila in raspberry, and will also evaluate impacts on raspberry production, fruit quality and soil health.

New farmer pathways: Increasing coordination among beginner farmer programs
Student researcher:
Rachel Schindler
Faculty advisor: Julie Dawson, Horticulture

This project will increase communication and coordination among Wisconsin beginning farmer programs focused on sustainable agriculture by completing an in-depth inventory of existing programs, establishing a system for sharing instructional resources, and describing the current landscape of programming and the existing gaps and barriers.

Survey of LGBT sustainable farmers in the Midwest
Student researcher:
Jaclyn Wypler
Faculty advisor: Jane Collins, Community and Environmental Sociology

Farming organizations use surveys of farmers to design programs to support historically marginalized practitioners. However, major surveys lack questions pertaining to LGBT identities and experiences. This project will conduct the first survey tailored to LGBT sustainable farmers and their experiences. This data can translate into reducing heteropatriarchy and increasing LGBT equity in local food systems.