Seven CALS graduate students win NCR-SARE grants for sustainable ag projects

Seven CALS graduate students were recently selected to receive funding through the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program’s Graduate Student Grant Program, a competitive grant program to fund graduate student projects that address sustainable agriculture issues. The awardees include:

Elissa Chasen
Along with associate professor of entomology Eileen Cullen, Chasen was recently selected to receive a $8,509.00 grant for the project “Beyond Economic Thresholds: Incorporating Proactive Pest Management Strategies in Alfalfa Pest Management Programs for Potato Leafhopper.” Description: This research project studies the efficacy of several pest management tactics for the potato leafhopper in alfalfa. Combinations of potato leafhopper resistant alfalfa and mixed alfalfa-orchardgrass stands are evaluated within the context of an economic threshold model. Concurrent field and laboratory experiments provide scientific data to follow up on farmer observations connecting applications of liquid dairy manure to alfalfa stands to a decrease in potato leafhopper abundance.

Megan Chawner
Along with assistant professor of soil science Matt Ruark, Chawner was recently selected to receive a $9,484.00 grant for the project “Nitrogen and Soil Quality Benefits of Radish as a Cover Crop.” Description: This project is assessing the nitrogen uptake and release of radish as a cover crop in the Midwest, as well as examining other soil quality benefits of radish that have been under-investigated thus far.

Jasmeet Lamba
Along with associate professor of biological systems engineering K.G. Karthikeyan, Lamba was recently selected to receive a $9,864.00 grant for the project “Use of Watershed Modeling to Target Management Practices in an Agriculture Watershed.” Description: This project involves use of Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) in conjunction with sediment fingerprinting techniques to identify areas contributing disproportionate amount of pollutants and evaluating the effect of field-level targeting of BMPs on pollutant load reduction at the watershed outlet.

Jenna Lind
Along with professor of plant pathology Amy Charkowski, Lind was recently selected to receive a $9,841.00 grant for the project “Using Wild Relatives of Potato to Illustrate Genetic Control Against the Pathogenic Bacteria Pectobacterium carotovorum.” Description: Bacterial soft rot, which is caused by Pectobacterium, is the most important bacterial disease of stored vegetables. In this project, I will characterize resistance genes from two wild potato species and determine if they may be suitable for use in a potato breeding program. I will also contribute to an effort to assess the potential of inbred diploid potato lines for more sustainable potato production.

Claire Luby
Along with professor of horticulture Irwin Goldman, Luby was recently selected to receive a $9,945.00 grant for the project “Diversity Prospecting for an Open Source Plant Breeding Framework.” Description: Increasingly restrictive intellectual property rights have led to a reduction in access to and sharing of plant genetic resources. This project will examine intellectual property rights surrounding carrot diversity in the United States, and will develop populations to preserve access to diversity.

Mallika Nocco
Along with associate professor of agronomy Christopher Kucharik, Nocco was recently selected to receive a $9,999.00 grant for the project “Impacts of Crop Management and climate change on Hydrology Across the Wisconsin Central Sands.” Description: The goal of this project is to determine how agricultural land use impacts freshwater resources in the Wisconsin Central Sands in response to scientific uncertainties identified by regional stakeholders utilizing biophysical modeling and field approaches. This work will assess the impact of varied groundwater pumping, irrigation, and crop rotation schemes on groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration in the Wisconsin Central Sands by determining coupled water-energy budgets of potato and maize agroecosystems.

Anne Pfeiffer
Along with associate scientist of agronomy Erin Silva, Pfeiffer was recently selected to receive a $9,997.00 grant for the project “Improving Soil Health Through Cover Crop Based No-Till Organic Vegetable Production.” Description: This project will assist organic vegetable producers to further integrate cover crops into their systems, while simultaneously reducing tillage. By integrating these practices, organic farmers will have an additional tool through which to improve soil health and weed management.