Rowntree named C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture

Animal science professor strives to advance sustainable agriculture techniques in Michigan

MSU researcher Jason Rowntree.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University Department of Animal Science Professor Jason Rowntree is the newest C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, named by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

The position combines both research and outreach. Rowntree said he plans to take his research outcomes on regenerative agriculture to farms across the state and work with farmers to increase adoption rates and improve outcomes across the board.

His work has been praised by CANR leadership, funding agencies and the agriculture industry.

“Dr. Jason Rowntree is a leader in sustainable agriculture research and application, and his ability to work with the state’s farmers and farm advocates to adopt these techniques while supporting Michigan’s agricultural industry make him a perfect fit for the C.S. Mott Professorship,” said CANR Dean Ron Hendrick.

Rowntree joins Mike Hamm, a fellow C.S. Mott Professor. The two have collaborated for more than 10 years.

“Dr. Mike Hamm has had this position since I've been at MSU, and he's been a key mentor of mine,” said Rowntree, who has dedicated his life’s work to developing systems to increase the resiliency of food production worldwide.

“It is an honor to have this opportunity to lead and contribute to the outstanding work that is ongoing here at Michigan State. We know that our role is to continue to improve agriculture, especially from an environmental perspective.”

CANR Endowed Professors are leaders in both the classroom and in their respective fields, and have increasing amounts of research. Resources provided to them help fund and further research, build a network of collaborators and deliver rich classroom experiences on topics in which they specialize.

Rowntree specializes in sustainable and regenerative agriculture with outcomes that include improving land quality, increasing productivity, keeping water clean and the industry profitable.

“There are many ways that we can achieve these goals. It isn't just focusing on small farms or large farms with certain prescriptive farm decisions. It's more aptly focusing on outcomes and understanding what actions are happening at the farm level that are driving environmental improvements,” he said.

“As one of the key land grant universities in the United States, MSU has a tremendous opportunity to use our research and outreach to model these regenerative approaches and also work shoulder-to-shoulder with our state’s farmers, land managers and stakeholders to see adoption of principles that can secure our long-term future in the state.”

Hamm said he is thrilled that Rowntree has received this recognition.

“Dr. Rowntree’s work is critically important if the food system is going to approach a no-net-carbon-release system,” he said. “Agriculture has the opportunity to be part of the solution and Jason’s research is generating one significant part of that opportunity. Our responsibility is to ask critical questions – ones that often many don’t want asked –then pursue them scientifically and let the results dictate the response. Jason does that to an outstanding degree.”

Rowntree said his love of Michigan and desire to protect its natural resources inspired him to accept the C.S. Mott Professorship.

“Michigan has 20 percent of the world's freshwater, and it's our job to protect it for future generations,” said Rowntree, who is an MSU graduate. “I am an outdoors person. I enjoy the wonderful landscape we have in the state, but I also have a heart for rural America and what our farmers and ranchers are going through economically and the greater challenges of climate change. So, personally I want to leave this state better for our next generations, especially rural Michigan. Those are, are key drivers for me.”

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