Sustainable Agriculture Profitability Focus of Aug. 18 Panhandle Seminar

Sustainable Agriculture Profitability Focus of Aug. 18 Panhandle Seminar

“Making Sustainable Agriculture Profitable” is the title of a seminar to be presented Aug. 18 at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff.

The speaker will be Carrie Eberle, who was recently hired by the University of Wyoming and is based at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) in Lingle, Wyo.

The free seminar begins at 3 p.m. in the Board Room at the Panhandle Center.

Agriculture accounts for half of land use in the United States. Over the last 50 years, crop diversity has seen a dramatic decrease, in part due to hybrid seed, better-producing varieties, and increased demand for crops like corn, soybean, and wheat. Single crops grown in large areas can lead to higher disease, weed, and pest pressure, increased fertilizer needs, increased susceptibility to markets, and poorer environment health.

Increasing crop diversity and implementing sustainable agricultural practices can address some of the detrimental impacts of current cropping practices, Eberle said; however, the term “sustainable agriculture” is often heard as “lower profit agriculture” and practices can be difficult to implement.

Eberle's research has focused on how farmers can use diversified crop rotations to address environmental issues, build better profits into current farming systems, and provide the incentive needed to implement new practices. The balance between environment and profit can be difficult to attain but with research focused on both criteria, it’s possible to work toward more sustainable and profitable agriculture systems, she said.

Eberle is an assistant professor of agronomy and cropping systems at the University of Wyoming based at SAREC. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in plant sciences and studied alternative crops and cover crops for three years as a postdoctoral researcher in Morris, Minn. with the U.S. Department of Ag’s Agricultural Research Service.

Her current research interests include agronomic practices and alternative crops in both dryland and irrigated cropping systems that provide agronomic advancements to growers and promote complete ecosystem health.