Highlights

A groundbreaking gut check

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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Diversity in food systems careers

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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Spring lambing season at Arlington ARS

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

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Events

Events

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Podcals

And now, cows are texting too – Audio

Friday, February 27th, 2015

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CALS in the Media

What your online comments say about you

The New York Times
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What your online comments say about you
Bioenergy and Bioproducts

Bioenergy center’s research leads to 100th patent application

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), one of three bioenergy research centers established in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), recently celebrated the filing of its 100th patent application. Led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and major partner Michigan State University, GLBRC consists of more than 400 scientists, students and staff working to develop a robust and sustainable pipeline for producing biofuels and chemicals from the nonedible, or cellulosic, portion of plants. Each year the center brings in about $25 million in federal funding. Since 2011, the center has reported 50 percent more inventions than expected for a university entity of its size and funding level. Its research has spurred startup companies and supports a range of industries: energy, automotive, and biochemical among them. "Collaboration is the center's lifeblood," GLBRC director Tim Donohue says. "Across different research areas - sustainability, plants, deconstruction and conversion - GLBRC scientists are working with and learning from each other every single day. Our relationship with industry, government and other research institutions helps us produce knowledge that meets real-world needs. By spurring the development of ...
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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Bioenergy center’s research leads to 100th patent application
Bioenergy and Bioproducts

Moving biofuel cropping systems toward long-term sustainability

By now most of us are accustomed to filling our cars with fuels that are part ethanol, and we know that corn is not only in our tortillas but also in our gas tanks. Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) researchers, however, are moving beyond corn and other first-generation biofuel feedstocks in an attempt to fill our tanks with environmentally sustainable biofuels. [caption id="attachment_17008" align="alignright" width="300"] GLBRC researcher Laura Smith collecting switchgrass tissue samples at Chiwaukee Prairie in Kenosha City, WI. Photos by Laura and Matt Smith.[/caption] Agronomy professor Randy Jackson, GLBRC’s sustainability research group co-leader, says “the focus of agricultural biofuel research has changed recently from ‘agronomic intensification’ to ‘ecological intensification.’ In other words, it’s not just about how much money you can make growing a crop anymore…it’s about how we can grow what we need and nurture the land at the same time.” “One way to move towards a system of ecological intensification,” Jackson continues, “is to move from fields of corn, which need to be planted annually and require lots of fertilizer, to mixed varieties of perennial grasses such as switchgrass.” Perennial ...
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
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Moving biofuel cropping systems toward long-term sustainability
Healthy Ecosystems

Five things everyone should know about milkweed

1. It is the stuff of life for monarch butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and milkweed leaves serve as nearly the sole food of monarch caterpillars. But many species benefit from the bounty of milkweed. Milkweed flowers produce nectar that other kinds of butterflies, honey bees, native bees and other pollinators enjoy. Hummingbirds line their nests with floss from milkweed seed pods. 2. It’s both medicine and poison. Milkweeds—there are more than 100 species—belong to the genus Asclepias, named after the Greek god of medicine and healing. Milkweeds have been used in medicine for thousands of years because their tissue contains cardiac glycosides, which increase the heart rate and in a purified form are useful in treating such conditions as cardiac arrhythmia and congestive heart failure. As a crude extract, cardiac glycosides are toxic and have been used as poison. Monarch larvae retain the toxins they consume in milkweed leaves and as butterflies remain toxic to predators. 3. Its presence is dwindling, along with the monarchs. The first decade of this century saw a 58 percent decline in milkweeds in ...
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
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Five things everyone should know about milkweed
Food Systems

Irwin Goldman on the Open Source Seed Initiative

Last April, professors Irwin Goldman of horticulture and Jack Kloppenburg of community and environmental sociology, as well as graduate student Claire Luby, mailed out packages and packages full of seeds. They weren’t launching their own seed business — they were launching a movement. The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) is an effort to create a common human property in plant DNA — in germplasm — one that’s free from the restrictions of patents and licensing and available for farmers and gardeners to experiment with as they please. On Wisconsin sat down with Goldman to talk plants, patents, and the future of food production. [caption id="attachment_16968" align="alignleft" width="300"] Irwin Goldman packages seeds for the Open Source Seed Initiative. Using envelopes such as the one below, OSSI sent material to 6,000 people in 16 countries. Photo: Bryce Richter.[/caption] What's the inspiration for OSSI? Well, it comes from open-source software. That was the real inspiration for it. Most of our germplasm now gets licensed and sometimes patented. We recognize that that’s a tide that we can’t change, but we thought that if everything goes this direction ...
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
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Irwin Goldman on the Open Source Seed Initiative