Re-Defining our Places Through Learning Hubs

The latest news from the Grassland 2.0 team on grassland-based agriculture and sustainable agriculture.

Re-Defining our Places Through Learning Hubs

If improving biodiversity, water quality, and soil health are goals shared by so many, and we know about potential solutions, why aren’t these solutions being more aggressively pursued? Reshaping agriculture in ways that provide a spectrum of ecosystem services can feel daunting. The socially defined context in which farming decisions are made impedes transitions to more regenerative forms of agriculture (Stuart & Houser, 2018). For meaningful changes to occur in our agricultural systems, we need to reshape the way we have socially, politically, economically, and biophysically constructed the places where we grow and consume food (Vogeler, 2019). 

Looking for the perfect burger? Look for local grass-fed

If there is one thing that can be widely agreed upon – it’s that burgers are loved. In fact, market research firm Datassentials notes that burgers are the 10th most loved food in the US across demographic segments out of more than 3,000 items. For folks looking for the perfect all-beef burger, grass-fed is a delicious, healthy option that provides an array of benefits to the environment and the local economy.

Zine-making: Grassland 2.0 leverages counterculture tactics

The Grassland 2.0 Curriculum Development and Education Team has been busy on our latest project, The Gra-Zine (gray-zeen)! The Gra-Zine is a zine – a mini, self-published magazine – exploring topics related to Grassland 2.0’s vision: shifting Upper Midwest dairy farming toward a grass-based agroecosystem. Topics encompass the range of benefits, barriers, and possibilities brought by this transition onto grass.

New infographic illustrates reintegration of livestock and crops

Back in the day, diversified farms were the norm—every farm had a mix of livestock, annual crops, and perennial pastures. Though viewed by some as impractical and inefficient in today’s era of specialization, there are sound scientific and economic reasons to pursue diversified farming systems for today’s agriculture. There’s a growing movement of farmers who are reintegrating livestock and crops to recapture some of the economic and environmental benefits they provide. In the Upper Midwest the Match Made in Heaven project is teaming up with innovative crop and livestock farmers to modernize and scale up diversified systems for today’s agriculture.

The Spring Digital Dialogue Series wraps up with four great presentations

And that is a wrap! This semester’s Digital Dialogue Series brought together over 700 participants to learn about the levers of change needed to bring about a transformational change to our agricultural system. This semester’s series featured four great speakers who discussed policy, populations dynamics and it’s impact on agriculture, watershed adaptive management, examples of innovative partnerships looking to create change, and the interplay of environmental laws and agriculture.

Last Digital Dialogue of the spring coming up May 17th

Grassland 2.0 is once again hosting our monthly Digital Dialogue webinar series!

In the fall of 2021 the Digital Dialogues Series focused on what makes a healthy agroecosystem. This spring, we are changing lanes and will be focusing on the levers of change for our agricultural system. Tune in and hear about the policies, legal reforms, and partnerships needed to regenerative farming and balance the power in our food system from the input suppliers, processors, and retailers to the farmers, workers, small business and consumers.

New tool helps dairy farmers explore the economics of grazing dairy heifers

To graze or not to graze? The newly debuted Heifer Grazing Compass is a spreadsheet tool designed to help farmers predict and understand the cash flow and long-term financial outcomes of deciding to raise heifers on pasture. Developed by the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems of CIAS and Grassland 2.0, the Heifer Grazing Compass compares the total economic implications of a farmer’s existing system with a potential pasture-based heifer raising system.

Cattle and Brookies: Making Modern Agriculture and Trout Habitat in Wisconsin

Some 10,000 years ago, glaciers from the last Ice Age were retreating from the Upper Midwest. While much of Wisconsin was scraped into the rolling landscape that is representative of much of the state, a roughly 24,000 square mile piece of land at the intersection of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, was left untouched by continental glaciers. Broad ridge tops with shallow soil, river-formed valleys, and steep, craggy ravines make the Driftless area a geological anomaly. For millennia, this was a fertile Brook Trout habitat but in an evolutionary blink of an eye, these waters became threatened by modern agriculture. Across this region of sandstone and dolomitic limestone bedrock, there is more than 6,000 miles of trout water, with about 1300 miles of public access. But the health of these waters continue to compete with agriculture to survive. 

U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard incentivizes land use change with environmental consequences

In order to address global climate change, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) aims to increase the use of biofuel in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a new study by Tyler Lark of UW-Madison and co-authors, including several members of Grassland 2.0, the RFS may have missed the mark in reducing emissions – in fact, the greenhouse gases produced consequentially negate any advantages of corn ethanol over gasoline. Why? The RFS policy makers did not predict the full-scale impacts of the land use change that would result from its implementation – mainly more corn and less pasture.

Creating a grazing movement in Sauk County

Serge Koenig has been serving Sauk County, Wisconsin as a county conservationist for the past 27 years. So, needless to say – he knows the community well. During his tenure he has helped a lot of farmers get back in touch with nature and rediscover why they farm. Koenig’s journey in conservation started in Madagascar where he grew up, where he says he basically lived outside.