Tying the research community together

Faculty members often seek out financial support for their projects from a variety of sources – grants and awards from government agencies, industry funding, and private donations. One source for support that may not be as well-known is the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station that has a budget of $11.4 million to help support faculty research not only in the College of Agricultural Sciences, but across the Colorado State University campus.

240, 15 and 7

Urban agriculture in Denver.

The Agricultural Experiment Station funds more than 240 faculty members from 15 academic departments in seven colleges, and the work of these faculty members reaches from the Fort Collins campus to seven research centers around the state.

Tying research together

“There is no question that the Agricultural Experiment Station ties our research community together by providing broad support for faculty members in a number of colleges,” said Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station Craig Beyrouty. “The projects funded by the AES touch a number of pressing global issues in agriculture including nutritional security, water usage, and land scarcity. The diversity of the projects and investigators testifies to the interdisciplinary nature of agriculture and the potential for collaborations among colleges at CSU.”

New projects

Close-up of the eye tracking software used to track attention during the parent-child task.

This fall, the Agricultural Experiment Station has launched 30 new projects and is providing support for 75 other projects already underway. Examples of new projects include:

Multistate Agricultural Literacy Research” (College of Agricultural Sciences)

Assistant Professors of Agricultural and Resource Economics Michael Martin and Kellie Enns are interested in learning how people understand the ways in which agriculture impacts economic, health, and political decisions. This multi-state agricultural literacy research grant is designed to measure agriculture knowledge, attitudes about agriculture, and programs designed to improve agriculture literacy.

“Improving Cropping System Resilience through Diversification and Soil Conservation” (College of Agricultural Sciences)

Assistant Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences Meagan Schipanski is working to develop new cropping systems adapted to the semi-arid western Great Plains that are productive, resilient in the face of climatic variability, and economically profitable. Through interdisciplinary collaborations of researchers, this project builds on the legacy of a 30-year cropping systems experiment that has had dramatic effects on the farming landscape of eastern Colorado, contributing to the conversion of 200,000 acres since 1985 from monoculture wheat with bare soil in winter to more intensified crop rotations.

Wildfire Impacts on Peak Flows and Sediment Delivery: Implications for Irrigation Infrastructure and Management” (College of Engineering)

Sedimentation in Skin Gulch following the 2012 High Park Fire.

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Peter Nelson is comparing water runoff, sediment generation, and sediment delivery from the Hill Gulch and Skin Gulch watersheds to the Cache la Poudre River that burned in the 2012 High Park Fire. The results will help guide use of the most effective post-fire rehabilitation treatments and better predict the risks to downstream agricultural and municipal water supply systems.

“Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Using front-of-package labeling and consumer education to reduce children’s consumption of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods” (College of Health and Human Sciences)

Rachel Graham Lucas-Thompson, an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, wants to understand how the Institute of Medicine’s recent recommendations for front-of-package nutrition labeling impact consumer decision making, as well as whether education is necessary to help consumers use these proposed labels effectively. She will work with parents of children aged 5-10 years old to shop for $20 worth of foods and beverages from a grocery aisle turned into a laboratory that contains approximately 100 products to choose from.

“Food System Resilience along the Front Range” (College of Liberal Arts)

Measuring how corn influences soil organic matter decomposition.

Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology Michael Carolan will conduct an inventory of the economic value as well as the social and natural capitals that local and regional food systems along the Front Range bring to communities. The research hopes to better understand the barriers and opportunities that exist within food deserts in the Denver metro area to make food access more secure and to enhance community vitality.

“Ecohydrological Mechanisms and Consequences of Juniper Expansion into Rangelands in northwest Colorado” (Warner College of Natural Resources)

Assistant Professor of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship Troy Ocheltree will determine the water-use characteristics of juniper and sagebrush to understand how the competition for water between these plants contributes to juniper expansion across once productive rangelands. In addition, the information gathered through this experiment will be used to quantify the effects juniper expansion has on water availability and the impact juniper encroachment will have on water yield in the coming decades.

More information

For more information on these or other AES projects, visit the website.