The Achilles Heel of Farming

Update Article
September 12, 2022
Agricultural land in Urbana

Farms have a promising opportunity to fight climate change using a simple but plentiful asset: soil. Soil has the capacity to store carbon in amounts that can meaningfully offset greenhouse gas emissions through retaining carbon (otherwise called carbon sequestration).

The private sector has established corporate goals for reducing contributions to climate change by offsetting emissions, with one method being carbon sequestration on agricultural lands. The incentivized, voluntary markets for agricultural soil carbon sequestration are a potential opportunity for farmers to meet these corporate goals.

Solo farmhouse in the Western US

Consumers across the United States worry about the effects of climate change on various parts of the food system. Though concern over issues like land availability, food shortages, and food prices is prevalent in every part of the country, the degree of the population's concern depends on where they live. Notably, concern is higher in the West and Northeast, while it is lower in the South and Midwest. 

Maria Kalaitzandonakes, Jonathan Coppess (University of Illinois) and Brenna Ellison (Purdue) review the results of the Gardner Survey on Farmdoc. 


Resilient cattle farmer

When households escape poverty, how likely is it they will fall back in the future? Loki Phadera of the World Bank and Hope Michelson of the University of Illinois explain to Tim Phillips why measuring resilience can give us a new perspective on how well anti-poverty programs are working – if only we can agree how to do it.

Listen tot the VoxDevTalk episode below:

Read “Do Asset Transfers Build Household Resilience?” by Lokendra Phadera, Hope Michelson, Alex Winter-Nelson and Peter Goldsmith here

USDA NIFA Farm Of The Future Fund

Update Article
June 6, 2022
robot in crops

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in late May that it is funding a new collaboration between two institutes and a research center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that will create an integrated farm of the future in the US Midwest.

This three-year project, titled I-FARM: Illinois Farming and Regenerative Management, has received $3.9 million in funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The Illinois-led study will develop an 80-acre agricultural proving ground where crops (corn and soybeans) and livestock will be raised using synergistic and sustainable methods.

“We will accelerate the creation, maturation and adoption of new management technologies that are fundamentally more sustainable, profitable, affordable and scale neutral. The new practices are enabled by mature digital farming technologies developed in a wide-ranging research effort at the University of Illinois,” said Primary Investigator Girish Chowdhary, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Bioengineering and Computer Science.

little brown bat

URBANA, Ill. – For years, bats have gotten a bad rap as the creepy creatures lurking in the dark. But for just as long, agricultural producers have known the winged wonder is actually the hero of the story, not the villain.

Now a plague is decimating bat colonies. The culprit: white-nose syndrome. And it’s costing U.S. agriculture up to $495 million each year, according to a recent paper from the University of Illinois and Colorado State University (CSU).