Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Program (LTAR) Breaks Ground
PSM Researchers Help Remodel Agriculture for a Sustainable Future
After many years of planning, the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) program has launched at the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS). The LTAR is a partnership among 18 long-term research sites across the U.S. with funding from the USDA. At KBS, the newly established LTAR is working alongside the long-term research programs already in place.
Several PSM scientists including Dr. Kim Cassida, Dr. Alexandra Kravchenko, Dr. Maninder Singh, and Dr. Karen Renner are working with the program to develop strategies for the sustainable intensification of agricultural production, which is led by KBS-LTAR Director Dr. Phil Robertson and Associate Director Dr. Brook Wilke. The LTAR program has secure funding and is establishing a new 30+ year experiment at KBS, where experimental and observational agricultural research data have already been gathered for decades.
"The mission of the LTAR is to think about agriculture in terms of what it could be, in the most sustainable, least impactful way,” Wilke says. Long-term experimentation and observational data are key to feeding an ever-growing population in a changing climate. Data gathered from more sustainable “aspirational” farming experiments will be compared to data gathered from “business as usual” farming, Wilke says, to determine the viability of sustainable practices.
As a member of the KBS LTAR Steering Committee, Dr. Alexandra Kravchenko participates in planning, consulting, and in research design. In the LTAR Soils Working Group, Kravchenko helps to foster integration between soil science from all the LTAR sites. Kravchenko says that once the key field experiments are laid out, PSM faculty and students should “look for opportunities to contribute.”
Several other PSM faculty who have participated in the design of the KBS-LTAR include Dr. Sieg Snapp, Dr. Kurt Thelen, Dr. Christy Sprague, Dr. Martin Chilvers, Dr. Francis Trail, Dr. Kurt Steinke, and Dr. Gregory Bonito.