On Friday, June 9, Kikkoman Foods, Inc. held a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of its soy sauce production facility in Walworth, Wis. At the event, the Kikkoman Foods, Inc. Foundation presented a $3 million gift to the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The donation will support two CALS research programs that aim to protect the resources that initially drew the world’s leading soy sauce producer to Wisconsin.
“The time-honored traditional brewing process for soy sauce uses just four simple ingredients: water, soybeans, wheat, and salt,” says Mr. Yuzaburo Mogi, honorary chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Kikkoman Corp. “Through the donations, we’re providing meaningful benefit to the region, and world, by helping to ensure the sustainability of agricultural systems and natural resources that contribute to producing soy sauce into the future.”
The two CALS programs that will receive funds are the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping System Trial (WICST) and Grassland 2.0. Both projects serve as hubs for many researchers and outreach specialists from departments across the college including agronomy, soil science, entomology, plant pathology, and community and environmental sociology.
WICST is a long-term field experiment at Arlington Agricultural Research Station, where researchers manage nine cropping systems that are representative of much of Wisconsin’s agricultural landscape. They explore how alternative approaches to crop and livestock production affect yields, soil carbon, nutrient dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity. WICST is unique among long-term agroecological experiments in both its scale and breadth, with organic and non-organic commodity-grain, dairy-forage rotations, rotationally grazed livestock on pasture and prairie, and grasslands harvested for second-generation biofuels.
“The value of the program for understanding agroecosystem sustainability increases over time, but the ability to support it with grant funds becomes more difficult,” says Randy Jackson, professor of agronomy and director of WICST. “Kikkoman support helps ensure the integrity of our 34-year-old cropping systems experiment into the future.”
Grassland 2.0 is a research, engagement and teaching project with the goal of understanding how cropping systems can be transformed to function more like the original prairie. This work includes exploring how cropping systems such as soybeans, wheat, maize, alfalfa and grasslands can be configured on landscapes to improve soil health, clean waters, reduce flooding and enhance biodiversity, all while providing opportunities for young and new farmers.
“The support we are receiving from Kikkoman for Grassland 2.0 will help us grow the project into a movement that’s focused on local community processes of place-making, which are geared toward helping communities be more sustainable and resilient in the face of 21st century challenges,” says Jackson, who leads Grassland 2.0.
UW–Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin, CALS Dean Glenda Gillaspy, Jackson and research scientist Gregg Sanford attended the event on Friday to accept the gift and share how the support will impact the programs. Governor Tony Evers was also in attendance to proclaim June 9 as Kikkoman Day. The event preceded the Wisconsin-U.S.-Japan Economic Development Conference held in conjunction with the company’s anniversary celebration in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.