Environment and Sustainability Features and Impacts

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.

In the US, the total amount of municipal solid waste is rising each year. Millions of tons of solid waste and scum are produced annually that require safe and environmentally sound disposal. U of M researchers are working to help turn municipal waste scum into economically feasible renewable bioenergy technologies.

Matthew Russel and his team are using remote sensing technologies to predict ash occurrence and relative abundance across Minnesota with the aim of synthesizing current management efforts in ash-dominated forests across the state. 

Lee Johnston and his team at the West Central Research and Outreach Center are exploring ways to lower the carbon footprint of pork production by developing and evaluating innovative methods of using on-site renewable energy generation to heat piglets.