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Primary Areas of Research

Food Production and Agricultural Systems

Agricultural production and related industries make up the single largest sector of Iowa's economy and is important to rural communities. Its long-term viability is a critical mission of Iowa State University, which has a successful history of assisting farmers, suppliers, processors, policy makers, and other key decision makers in addressing opportunities and challenges facing agriculture. To ensure sustainability of our agricultural based system and enhance food security, Experiment Station research projects continue to make new discoveries that enhance the productivity, resilience, diversity and profitability of our cropping and production animal systems.

Transformative Technology

Innovations in analytics and technologies, such as digital agriculture (the use of data to make more informed decisions about managing agronomic operations), big data, and genetic/phenomic advances in animal science, hold the promise of helping to feed and nourish a growing world population. Barriers remain to achieving this goal, however. We must accelerate the pace of digital innovations and remove barriers to accessing them. Farmers (big and small) must be prepared to adapt and embrace additional change in order to take full advantage of these tools in the years ahead. The Experiment Station plays a key role in research, discovery and diffusion of innovation in this area.

Natural Resources and Environmental Stewardship

Wise management of all natural resources, including water, soil, air, and other resources is needed to sustain our nation's ability to produce food, feed, fiber, and bioproducts/biofuels as well as support environmental goods and services, and economic and social functions. Without attention to environmental goods and services, our quality of life would be greatly impacted. The focus areas of this program encompass all of the natural resources within the highly human modified agroecosystem. Proper stewardship of natural resources that provide the base inputs for modern agricultural production is foundational to sustaining the desired quantity and quality of food, feed, fiber, and biofuels and the natural environment.

Community and Economic Development

Economic issues facing Iowa communities are numerous and include an aging workforce and changing economic structures. A combination of factors such as aging infrastructure, resistance to additional taxation, depopulation, and lower population density are pushing small local governments' budgets to their limits. Severe storm and flood damage, a problem that has been increasing in recent years, exacerbates economic issues in communities of all sizes. All local governments face shrinking budgets and need strategies and tools for doing more with less.  Experiment Station research provides findings that can be used by community decision makers to address and mitigate challenges.