Skip to main content

Category: Agriculture

Meat cultivated at UW-Madison offers glimpse into possible food future

PBS Wisconsin

An unconventional yet burgeoning project looming on the horizon of the grow-your-own movement is the development of cultivated, or cultured meat. It is real animal meat and seafood that is produced by cultivating animal cells, according to the Good Food Institute (GFI). Backers say it reduces the land and water pollution caused by large-scale meat agriculture.

Masatoshi Suzuki is a researcher and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In recent years, Suzuki’s lab has worked in collaboration with GFI to create a prototype of a beef patty grown from the stem cells of a cow.

School for beginning dairy farmers slated for closure

Wisconsin State Farmer

It looks as if the University of Wisconsin-Madison is getting ready to close down the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers, which has graduated almost 600 budding farmers after training them in grazing practices as well as business planning for their new operations.

The school was founded and directed by Dick Cates, a Spring Green beef farmer who also served on the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s citizen policy board and various state sustainability panels.

15 Plants That Will Thrive Under A Pine Tree

House Digest

Noted: Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are an extremely common plant grown all over the U.S. They show off unique flowers that are heart-shaped and white, pink, or red depending on the cultivar, notes the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This easy-to-grow plant thrives on its own with little human intervention. It will grow happily in shady gardens beneath large trees as long as the soil is well-draining.


Wisconsin’s first grassland climate adaptation site is a ‘best case scenario’ for mitigating climate change

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Jack Williams, a climate scientist and chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Geography, explained that prairie plants, with their deep roots and soil horizons, can store carbon and mitigate climate.

“There’s a lot of below-ground carbon sequestration in grasslands,” Williams said. “So a healthy grassland can also be a good climate mitigation strategy.”

Ellen Damschen, a UW-Madison professor in the department of biology, echoed that view, stressing that it’s important because small, local seed populations are at greater risk of getting wiped out.

“If seeds move, they’re moving their genes. You want to allow population sizes to get bigger, and you want to allow movement between sites,” she said.

9 Amazing Small-Town Cheese Shops To Visit In Wisconsin


Wisconsin is known as the dairy state. So it’s no surprise that the University of Wisconsin-Madison created America’s first dairy school. The state ranks first for cheese production and fourth in world production behind the rest of the country, Germany, and France.

Not kidding around: Goats beat back buckthorn for first time at Brule River State Forest

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: The effectiveness of methods like goats, mowing and herbicides to control invasive species like buckthorn and bush honeysuckle is something that University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are studying. It’s part of a multi-year project that’s underway at two plots in Sun Prairie and Prairie du Sac.

Researchers are examining how each of those management techniques work when used alone or together, according to Mark Renz, professor and extension specialist in UW-Madison’s agronomy department. He noted a study by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana previously found goat grazing could reduce invasive species over the span of five years.

“So it works, it just takes time,” Renz said. “And the challenge as a land manager like the Brule Forest is trying to figure out is it worth it to do that approach with goats or is an integrated approach better or what works best for their situation?”

Listen Live The Ideas Network Program Schedule Program Notes NPR News & Music Network Program Schedule Music Playlists All Classical Network Program Schedule Music Playlists WPR A farmer drives an ATV through a dairy farm. Brent Sinkula drives around his farm Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Two Creeks, Wis. Angela Major/WPR ‘We farm the sun’: For some Wisconsin dairy farmers, solar energy is a new source of income

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: “A lot of the companies in the United States that practice in the renewables area have shifted a lot of their efforts to large-scale solar design,” said James Tinjum, who researches environmental sustainability and renewable energy at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. “The economics has, in the last decade, made it possible.”

Living with lactose intolerance in the land of milk and cheese? It’s possible

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: As someone who’s a registered dietitian who also works in the dairy field, it’s ironic that Andrea Miller deals with lactose intolerance herself. She’s a registered dietitian and outreach program manager for the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“For most people, cultured products as a whole will digest and absorb well because of what they contain (natural enzymes) and the fact that lactose has been eaten up in the process of culturing,” she says.

‘I had to speak up’: Two Northwoods friends push Wisconsin DNR to protect lakeshore forests

Wisconsin Watch

Quoted: Healthy plants and trees block harmful runoff from flowing into lakes — an increasingly important task as climate change intensifies rains, said Donald Waller, a retired professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“People don’t understand the intimate connection between forest and water. But forest and forest quality affects not only the quality of the water, but also the amount of water and how it is released from soils,” Waller said.

Agricultural Educators show-off hemp research crops


Quoted: “We’re looking at 18 different varieties from around the world and which ones can maybe produce the best grain or the best for future use if industrial hemp becomes more of a mainstream crop,” UW-Madison Extension Chippewa County Agricultural agent, Jerry Clark, said.

UW-Madison Extension Buffalo County Agricultural Educator, Carl Duley, says the fiber and grain produced from industrial hemp has many different uses.

“Right now they are approved for human food, not for animal feed at this point, but they are used a lot in health food stores like granola,” Duley said. “There’s a lot of flour made after the oil is squeezed out.”

University of Wisconsin scientists help to fight warming climate with altering plant genes

Spectrum News

Climate change is an issue that scientists across the globe have been trying to combat since the late 1800s.

Warming temperatures and increased rainfall over the past few decades have brought uncertainty to Wisconsin’s agricultural sector. One of the major causes of this erratic weather is the greenhouse gasses that continue to warm the planet.

But a small group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin are working on a solution.

UW-Madison program creates water quality outreach team


With water issues a concern for much of the country, Wisconsin is also taking a look at how to protect the state’s water quality.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension has created four new roles within the Agriculture Water Quality Program to promote outreach and environmentally-friendly farming practices. The program is led by co-program managers John Exo and Amber Radatz.

Farming costs in Wisconsin were up 8 percent in 2021

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Steve Deller, ag economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said agriculture experienced the same supply chain issues that almost every industry faced in 2021.

“A lot of the stuff that farmers need to operate were in very low supply. So essentially it’s more expensive for farmers to operate,” Deller said. “It’s like any business. You know, I need to buy a new piece of equipment, but I can’t find it and prices go up.”

PETA is suing a Wisconsin dairy co-op for separating calves from their moms. But why do farmers do so?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Jennifer Van Os researches animal welfare on dairy farms for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said cow-calf separation is standard for dairy farms across the U.S. and the world. She said the practice started as a way to prevent newborn calves from contracting diseases from other cows in a herd.

“Newborn dairy cows are vulnerable to disease because their immune system is still developing,” Van Os said. “Their immune system develops in a way that’s a little bit different from that of humans. So it came from good intentions, and it was done for the sake of the animal.”

Japanese beetles vs. Wisconsin gardeners: As you wage war against the despised, invasive pests, here’s what to know to get the upper hand

Green Bay Press-Gazette

Noted: Entomologist PJ Liesch is director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab, aka @WiBugGuy on Twitter. He’s been studying the not-so-little buggers for nearly 15 years and graciously agreed to share his insights, offer some tips and bust a few myths.

Ag policy expert predicts strong milk prices through fall of 2022

Wisconsin State Farmer

At the second Dairy Exchange of the year sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, cheesemakers and allied industry people gathered to hear a dairy market update from Mark Stephenson.

As it turns out, it will be the last market update Stephenson will present as he will be retiring from his post as director of Dairy Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin. Fortunately he was able to impart some good news to dairy farmers.

Study finds around half of Great Lakes residents know about advisories outlining safe fish consumption

Wisconsin Public Radio

Fish is a popular food in Wisconsin whether it’s part of a Friday night fish fry or a staple for Wisconsin tribes. However, a new study finds around only half of people surveyed in the Great Lakes region know about fish advisories that set limits on how much is safe to eat.

The study was published in June in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Researchers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and University of Wisconsin-Madison found around 5 million people ate more fish than recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency recommends no more than two meals or 12 ounces of fish per week.

Some 5 milliion people may be eating more fish than recomended by health advisories, according to research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Duluth News Tribune

Only about half the people living in the Great Lakes region are aware of fish consumption advisories that warn people to limit their meals of fish, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, also found that an estimated 5 million people across the region exceeded the general recommended fish intake of two meals, or 12 ounces per week, as suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency for all fish, including those purchased in stores.

Plastic has made farming easier, but what happens to the material after it’s used?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Melissa Kono is a community development educator in Clark and Trempealeau counties for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension.

She said farmers use plastic sheeting to protect hay and silage from the elements in order to feed their livestock all winter. Some forms of these plastics include top covers for silage bunkers — think white tarp covering mounds of silage with tires holding the tarp down — long bags that hold long, skinny rows of silage and wrap for individual hay bales.

“Their other option for silage would be a silo and those are very costly to construct,” Kono said. “Having a silage pile makes it easier to access, especially if farmers don’t have a lot of space, or makes it more accessible to feeding animals, which helps cut down on time and cost. I just think because farmers are stretched so very thin these days, having plastics to use has probably made it more economical.”

UW-Madison research shows plants could produce more materials for medicine, biofuel

Wisconsin Public Radio

Plants already pull significant weight in removing carbon dioxide from the air, but a new study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows there’s potential for plants to capture more.

The study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, also shows the potential to increase the amount of aromatic compounds — or the building blocks for certain biofuels and medicines — produced by plants.

After a month of no new bird flu cases, Wisconsin lifts order prohibiting poultry shows ahead of county fair season

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Ron Kean is a poultry specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension. He said the influenza virus has historically died down in summer months, so bird enthusiasts are cautiously optimistic about the rest of the summer.

“We’re hopeful that we’re through this at least for now,” he said. “Especially a lot of the small producers, exhibition breeders, things like that, I think are quite excited to be able to go back to having shows.”

How To Save Your Garden Plants During Drought and Heatwaves


Quoted: “Extended drought can lead to the total collapse of the photosynthetic machinery and it can take long time for the plants to rebuild their roots and internal mechanisms,” Vijai Pandian, a horticulture educator at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension, told Newsweek.

“This can cause long term impacts … and the drought effect symptoms often continue for [the] next few years,” he said.

Federal dairy innovation program gets a boost from pandemic relief funds

Wisconsin Examiner

A federal program will give Wisconsin and 10 other states a $20 million boost to help farmers, cheese makers and other dairy processors develop new products and new markets to help stabilize the embattled dairy industry.

The funds, announced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) Monday at a Jefferson County cheese producer, will expand the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA is giving the money to the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a joint project of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The groups will provide grants and support programs so that farms, dairy processors and related businesses can “modernize, reach new markets and create economic growth,” said Baldwin.

Wisconsin farmers are experiencing record high milk prices, but for how long?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Bob Cropp, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said high demand for milk is what drove prices up in 2014. But he said this year’s record prices are due to farmers cutting back on production.

“Milk production for several months, starting actually the last quarter of last year, has been running below a year ago,” Cropp said. “Cow numbers have declined and production per cow has been below normal, so we have resulted in a tightness of the supply-demand situation.”

New tool shows Wisconsin farmers financial benefits of letting cows graze

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: John Hendrickson, farm viability specialist for UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, helped develop the tool for the Grassland 2.0 project. Started in 2020 using a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the collaboration between researchers from UW-Madison and other universities, farmers and agriculture industry leaders is working to encourage farmers to adopt the use of grasslands.

“We want farms to be financially viable and sustainable for the long term,” he said. “But of course the Grasslands 2.0 project also has this larger look at the entire landscape and climate change and soil erosion and what can we do to have a more sustainable agricultural system on the landscape.”

‘Around the Farm Table’ explores climate change fighting grain

PBS Wisconsin

Quoted: Featured in the episode is University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor of agronomy Valentin Picasso. Picasso’s research team works with Kernza to help farmers develop best practices for crop growing.

“Being able to work with a large team of people to develop a crop that can bring reconciliation between food production and the environment really makes me excited and gives me hope for humanity,” said Picasso.

UW ag experts say spring planting dates still on track

Wisconsin State Farmer

Although April has been cold and wet, University of Wisconsin-Madison agronomists say farmers shouldn’t start stressing out just yet.

“Despite the fact that we are about two weeks behind where we were a year ago, we are still on track for maximum yields for corn and soybeans,” says Shawn Conley, UW Soybean and Small Grains Extension Specialist.

According to Joe Lauer, UW-Madison Agronomy Professor, “last year we were earlier than normal – in fact, it was one of the earliest planting seasons on record.”

How to help Wisconsin’s disappearing native bees in your yard

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Native plant curator Susan Carpenter with the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison said they detected the rusty patched at the Arboretum about 10 years ago. “That started us on this voyage of discovery,” she said. When the rusty patched was declared endangered, she said, “people just went crazy on that.”

UW-Madison working to bring bird flu vaccine to market amid outbreaks

CBS 58

If you’ve been paying more for eggs recently, you have the bird flu to thank, according to egg producers.

UW-Madison scientists say they are fighting back.

Across the nation, tens of thousands of birds have had to be put down in recent weeks as the bird flu ravages flocks, and farmers say while it’s already making eggs expensive, it won’t stop there.

UW-Madison scientists say this is an issue that comes and goes, which is why they’re looking to bring a vaccine for the birds to market.

“Knock on wood, we’ve been doing okay in Wisconsin. We’ve had two outbreaks here in Wisconsin,” said UW-Madison Poultry Specialist Ron Kean.

Market volatility caused by war in Ukraine has Wisconsin farmers, agriculture companies on edge

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Wisconsin producers primarily grow winter wheat, which is planted in the fall and harvested in the summer, making it unlikely farmers will plant more this spring in response to potential shortages or to capitalize on higher prices, Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said.

But farmers in the state will likely spend more time managing the wheat fields they do have planted this spring, he said.

“More fertilizer, maybe more concerned about fungicide applications if you’re looking at a problem with disease. That’s what we might see, is farmers more willing to spend money on managing the planted crop for winter wheat,” he said.

Coming together: Dairy farmers debate plans for overseeing US milk supply

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: Instead of limiting milk production, the plan focuses on reducing the negative impacts of uncontrolled expansion and sending stronger market signals to farms about whether they should produce more milk. The group worked with researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to create models for what a mandatory management program could look like and how it would affect farmers’ and consumers’ prices.

Mental Health First Aid training for WI Ag Community set for April 12

Wisconsin State Farmer

There is no doubt that farming can be extremely rewarding, yet also stressful and demanding. Various risk factors including weather, economic uncertainty, as well as, ever-evolving supply and demand changes, can take a toll on farmer’s mental health.

In order to address some of these issues, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension will be offering virtual and in-person educational programs to help the Wisconsin agricultural community identify and respond to a variety of behavioral health challenges.

After detecting bird flu in Wisconsin, poultry expert discusses transmission, safety steps

Wisconsin Public Radio

After state agriculture officials confirmed the presence of bird flu in Wisconsin, one poultry management expert shared safety tips for poultry farmers and what risk exists to humans.

Ron Kean, a faculty associate and extension specialist in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, also explained what costs farmers can and cannot get covered if the flu hits their farm.

Wisconsin has fewer dairy farms. So how are they producing more milk?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: The consolidation of farms seen across agriculture is a big part of why the state has fewer licensed dairy producers, according to Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“In many cases when farms sell out, most of their cows may go to other dairy farms. And so the remaining farms have gotten a little bit larger,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said in 2005, the average herd size in Wisconsin was 82 cows per farm, and in 2020, that average climbed to 177 cows per farm. In other words, the average more than doubled over 15 years.

Nitrogen pilot program bill passes Senate

Wisconsin Examiner

A bipartisan bill to create a nitrogen optimization pilot program to aid farmers in reducing nitrogen pollution passed the state Senate Tuesday and will now head to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk. The measure, SB-677 creates a commercial nitrogen optimization pilot program and provides crop insurance premium rebates for planting cover crops, which farmers may use  to improve soil health. The bill also creates a new state hydrogeologist position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison extension, tasked with aiding local communities in tackling areas with high concentrations of contamination.

UW Madison announces changes to Farm and Industry Short Course program

Wisconsin State Farmer

UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) announced they will alter their Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC), beginning in 2023.The program will switch from a for-credit, on-campus residential experience lasting 16 weeks, to a more flexible, non-credit format. The residential program will end this spring when the current class of Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) students receive their certificates.

Methane manure boom could be fueled by a proposed tax credit and state policies

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: Methane is considered a greenhouse gas because it traps infrared radiation in the atmosphere and raises air temperatures. Livestock farming represents about 30% of the methane emissions produced from human activities in the U.S., with beef and dairy cattle as the major contributors, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension.

Wisconsin farms are feeling the squeeze of a tight labor market

Wisconsin Public Radio

As Wisconsin farms prepare for the upcoming growing season, some producers are having a hard time finding enough workers.

Claire Strader is an organic vegetable educator for FairShare CSA Coalition and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Dane County. Last fall, she started hearing from farmers who were worried about a potential labor shortage.

“They knew that they were going to be losing workers from their farms because those workers were telling them that as they were moving on to other opportunities,” Strader said. “Those farmers, in particular vegetable farmers, were telling us that they were in a crisis looking for workers.”

Chicago region grapples with reducing road salt as chloride levels exceed state limits in waterways, continue to rise in Lake Michigan

Chicago Tribune

Noted: A December 2021 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the lake’s chloride levels have risen from about 9 milligrams per liter in 1980 to about 15 milligrams per liter today, primarily due to the use of road salt. Chloride levels in Lake Michigan have been rising steadily since the 19th century, when the lake’s chloride levels reached only 2 milligrams per deciliter.

Rob Mooney, a postdoctoral researcher at UW-Madison who worked on the chloride study, said that although researchers don’t have a definitive answer as to why, it could be because Lake Michigan has a much longer water replacement time — the time it takes for the water in each lake to be completely replaced — than Erie and Ontario.

Warming trends in Wisconsin are upending winter activities and ways of life

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: Scientists say the last two decades have been the warmest on record in Wisconsin. Among them is Steve Vavrus, a senior scientist with the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“No season has been immune to the warming trend,” he said. “Winter has warmed the most. That has been true in the past, and it’s expected to be true in the future.”

Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage has been a fixture in Milwaukee. Its legacy continues to grow.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: In 2011, Malone was inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Hall of Fame, joining local legends such as Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcaster Bob Uecker and Oscar G. Mayer who grew his father’s company, Oscar Mayer into a powerhouse brand, and Fred Usinger, who took the Usinger’s family sausage business to new heights in the 20th century.

The Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame resides at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Meat Science Laboratory and recognizes the contributions of individuals who have had a significant impact on the state’s meat industry.

Report: Amount of Wisconsin land being farmed declines in 2021

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Heather Schlesser is an agriculture educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Marathon County. She said the state has seen many producers transition out of dairy farming, which requires a lot of land for growing feed.

“They were transitioning out of dairy, making that decision to retire because they’re getting older. Or maybe they’re still younger, but they’re switching into beef production,” Schlesser said. “You can only do that for so long before you’re like, ‘You know what, I really don’t need this land. I don’t want to deal with the renters anymore. There’s no one new coming on the farm.’ And then they’re just deciding to sell it off.”