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Sustainable intensification of crops topic of symposium

Innovations in food production, environmental quality presented

American Society of Agronomy

Sustainable intensification is an approach that aims to increase crop yields on existing agricultural land while minimizing the negative environmental pressures and impacts of agricultural systems.

Scientists at the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society annual meeting will discuss sustainable intensification at a special symposium, "Sustainable Intensification for Improved Food Production and Environmental Quality." This year's meeting will be held Nov. 4-7, 2018, in Baltimore, MD. The theme of the meeting is "Enhancing Productivity in a Changing Climate." The Canadian Society of Agronomy is collaborating in the meeting.

Sustainable intensification concepts are innovative and have the potential for transforming food production systems. Multidisciplinary approaches involving all actors of food production system and consumers are required.

Vara Prasad, Kansas State University, is the organizer of the symposium. "The speakers are the best in their fields and topic of research and broader picture of food security," says Prasad. "Speakers have wide range of subject matter experiences because it will require the collective efforts of multidisciplinary teams to address change of food and nutritional security. Our next generation of scholars need to take a holistic and multidisciplinary and diverse approaches; and we need to train them in that direction."

"There have been several innovations or technologies that are available particularly in developing countries. The major challenge is the lack of adoption by farmers," says Prasad. "This is evident from the large yield gap (difference between the potential and actual yield) for major food crops in developing countries-particularly in parts of Asia and Africa. Therefore, it is not only important to identify innovative solutions, but also understand barriers of adoption and create enabling environment and policies so that farming communities can put these innovations and solutions in practice."

Eileen McLellan, Environmental Defense Fund, will present a talk about sustainable intensification in the corn belt. Agronomists must focus on "broadening the focus of nutrient management from field- to landscape-scale, and considering sustainable intensification in the broader context of resilience to climate and economic shocks. [This] creates opportunities for win-win-win solutions that benefit farmers, upstream communities, and coastal stakeholders."

Pennycress, an up-and-coming oilseed crop, will be discussed by Sarah Moore, University of Minnesota. "As a winter annual, pennycress provides critical groundcover during the cooler months, while also producing an oil-rich seed that can be harvested for uses in industrial feedstocks. This presents a valuable opportunity for sustainable intensification in regions where short growing seasons limit productivity." Its limitations in colder climates are the focus of Moore's research.

Other speakers will talk about crops like tamarind, fenugreek, and legumes. Researchers will share findings from Nigeria, Uruguay, Philippines, and other countries.


For more specific information about this symposium, visit For more information about the 2018 meeting, visit Media are invited to attend the conference. Pre-registration by Oct. 15, 2018 is required. Visit for registration information. To read more about all the keynote speakers, visit

To speak with one of the scientists, contact Susan V. Fisk, 608-273-8091, to arrange an interview.

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