Agriculture can become leader in climate change

Photo of Dr. Charles Rice

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Charles Rice, addresses the crowd at Hillman Hall.

More than 80 international participants from 40 organizations attended the 2016 C-Quest workshop on Oct. 24-25 at Washington University in St. Louis. The two-day event entitled Charting a Course for Climate Research in Agriculture, featured multiple presenters focused on developing practices that would help farmers adapt to an ever changing climate, while mitigating carbon output.  The workshop was a follow-up to a meeting the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES) held in 2014 on climate change and agriculture in the Midwest.

Welcoming remarks were made by Dr. Himadri Pakrasi, the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor and director of I-CARES, as well as Dr. Barbara Schaal, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Charles Rice of Kansas State University, stressed the importance of researching soil biology because it can lead to the development of healthier soils that are resilient to climate variability. Additionally, he encouraged students and researchers to collaborate across the sciences.

At the conclusion of the plenary session, participants broke off into panel discussions to generate new research ideas relating to agriculture and climate adaptation. Discussion topics ranged from pollinator health and livestock partnerships, to farmer adoption of carbon neutral practices and nitrogen stewardship. By the end of day two, the group voted on which research initiatives needed to be prioritized to achieve the USDA’s building blocks for climate smart agriculture.

A common refrain throughout the discussions was that if farmers/growers have reliable data about soil health practices that prove profitable, then they will be open to new practices for promoting soil health. In fact, the overall top priority listed by the participants was to develop reliable metrics and indicators that would determine the health of soil.

The C-Quest event was organized by more than a dozen key sponsors including: the ILSI Research Foundation, Monsanto Company, Soil Health Partnership, Washington University in St. Louis, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

To view all of the speaker presentations, click here.