WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. — Christian Krupke, professor of entomology at Purdue University, has been named the Dean’s Fellow for Resilient Agriculture to provide research leadership aimed at making agriculture more productive and durable.
Krupke will lead a multiyear initiative that brings together research faculty from different disciplines in the College of Agriculture. Their goal is twofold: to conduct long-term research that helps farmers make decisions based on reliable, field-scale data and to demonstrate practices that bolster the durability of the entire agricultural system.
“There’s an incredible amount of federal and private industry funding going into this broad field, but some of the practices either are not being tested in a rigorous and systematic way, or the results are not being clearly communicated to growers,” Krupke said. “This is an area where Purdue research and extension can have influence.”
Working on dedicated land owned by the university, the researchers will describe what resilient agriculture looks like in practice using a systems approach that includes their collective specialty areas. Experiments incorporating these techniques will occur at field scale over several years to compare traditional and resilient farming practices, and the approaches will change as new information comes to light.
“Dr. Krupke’s research and extension programs in pest management of corn and soybeans over nearly 20 years make him an ideal person to lead this effort,” said Karen Plaut, executive vice president for research and former dean of the College of Agriculture. “His program in field crops entomology continues to track the leading edge of the discipline through groundbreaking discovery research and the delivery of high-impact integrated pest management solutions for stakeholders.”
Krupke defines resilient agriculture as “considering the needs of the present without sacrificing system durability for the future.”
“Many people in Purdue Agriculture are working to improve the sustainability and profitability of Indiana farms,” said Ken Foster, interim dean of the College of Agriculture. “Now, their efforts to develop new practices and methods that create a more resilient food supply can be better integrated across disciplines and demonstrated directly to our state’s farmers.”
Krupke also is currently seeking input from growers, commodity organizations, conservation groups and industry representatives to ensure that the approaches selected are realistic and viable for a range of practitioners.
Baseline data collection in this inaugural year will occur on 102 acres at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education and on additional acreage at two of eight Purdue Agricultural Centers. The study design will compare paired, adjacent fields: one farmed using common, traditional methods and the other with techniques that researchers, farmers and conservation groups collectively characterize as resilient. Researchers will measure such parameters as soil health, beneficial and pest insects, pathogens, weed and yield per acre over time.
“Purdue entomology is dedicated to addressing challenges in agricultural production and the preservation of natural resources,” said Cate Hill, department head. “Christian is involving disciplines beyond our own in this systems-wide approach to strengthening agricultural resilience.”
“Currently, if you’re a farmer and you say you want to get involved in resilient agriculture and implement some novel approaches, it’s very difficult to find out – clearly and definitively – what your next steps should be and what the relative pros and cons of different approaches may be,” Krupke said.
He hopes results from the study will help growers make informed decisions on their own land, but he already has a sense of its overriding theme: “We have to be more judicious about everything we do.”
Writer: Nancy Alexander
Sources: Christian Krupke; firstname.lastname@example.org
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