Environment and Sustainability Features and Impacts

Pandas are one of most beloved and most endangered animals on the planet but their future is far from certain. U of M researchers, using genetic analysis methods often used for livestock, analyzed wild and captive panda populations in China.

Euarasian watermilfoil has long been a concern for aquatic invasive species professionals, but researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center were interested to see what was happening with Hybrid watermilfoil in Minnesota's lakes. Two key questions they had: (1) How different is the genetic makeup of Northern watermilfoil (a native plant), Eurasian watermilfoil and Hybrid watermilfoil? and (2) Can we use the same control techniques we use for Eurasian watermilfoil to control Hybrid watermilfoil?

U of M researchers in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering wanted to find a solution to the long-term issue of high levels of mercury concentrations in some Minnesota waters. Building on research done with nanoparticles, they developed a sponge that can remove over 99.9 percent of mercury for contaminated water.

Insect pollinators provide essential services to growers of US fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and honeybees are their star performer accounting for over two-thirds of the agricultural output attributed to insect pollination. Research projects and extension programs are uncovering new information to help Minnesotans protect this essential insect.

Rebecca Montgomery, Chris Baumler and their team are working to expand the reach of climate science by engaging everyday citizens in gathering research data and experiencing art and nature in new ways. Their "Backyard Phenology Project" combines  phenology with art and engages groups and individuals at locations throughout the state.

Researchers and Extension educators have developed a new social monitoring system to help cleanup Minnesota waters and engage citizens in the process. The new system has already been piloted and adopted by several state agencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

University of Minnesota researchers and industry partners showcased their latest innovations and research findings during the Midwest Farm Energy Conference at the University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) June 13 in Morris, MN.

As the first widely available perennial grain crop, intermediate wheatgrass will change agriculture landscapes by providing multiple ecosystem services including making them more sustainable, especially in the face of climate change. But more work is needed to breed new varieties of intermediate wheatgrass that will be profitable for farmers and fulfill industry needs.

Through phenology, U of M researchers and Extensions specialists are working together to increase our understanding of how plants adapt to changing climates.

The amount, orientation, and effectiveness of investments in research and development (R&D) shape our technological futures, but the processes play out over long-periods of time and require long-run perspective that takes into account all-dimensions of food and agriculture productivity.