Chaney Mosley, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education at MTSU
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Nine billion people. This is the projected world population by 2050, raising concerns among producers and policymakers about the sustainability of current agricultural production systems, said Chaney Mosley, assistant professor of agricultural education at MTSU.
“Much of the solution could be under our feet,” said Mosley, a faculty member at the School of Agriculture, spearheading the collaboration with a US $ 749,999 Department of Agriculture / National grant. Institute of Food and Agriculture involving three universities.
The three-year research effort, which includes students from MTSU, will study soil management practices for improved soil health and the related effects on crop and animal productivity, feed quality, and economic viability. integrated farming systems, Mosley said.
Seven MTSU researchers will lead a statewide team that includes scientists from Tennessee Tech University and the University of Tennessee-Martin. They will explore how various soil management practices could influence food production outcomes, with an emphasis on equipping current producers with resources to better inform on-farm decision-making practices and provide future producers access to information.
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“Our goals are clear,” Mosley said. “First, we aim to identify best management practices to improve crop and pasture production to improve productivity and feed quality. Second, we will establish a food system training center to provide support in the areas of food science production, processing, preservation, safety and education.
The idea for the project arose from professors at MTSU who discussed their research interests in 2019. Samuel Haruna, assistant professor of soil science, believes soil is the foundation of life.
“Healthy soils produce healthy crops, healthy livestock, healthy food, healthy people and healthy communities,” said Haruna, whose comment resonated with others. Haruna had many students working on her research project this summer.
Keely O’Brien, assistant professor of fermentation science, was perhaps the most excited.
“A lot of people think that we (in the science of fermentation) only make whiskey, wine and beer, but there are a lot of fermented food products, especially dairy products,” she said. .
Researchers will use sustainable practices to improve the health of the soil in which corn will be grown and fed to dairy cows. The milk will then be harvested to make cheese, which will be used in consumers’ sensory panels.
Beyond cheese tasting, the economic impacts of implementing sustainable land management practices on crop productivity, milk quality and producers will be analyzed by Kishor Luitel, assistant professor of agricultural economics.
“The quality of milk depends on animal feed and the quality of the feed depends on the health of the soil,” Luitel said.
Producers need to be aware of this relationship in order to make economic decisions on their farm.
The Food System Training Center will be hosted on the MTSU campus and host training sessions for producers, food entrepreneurs, agricultural education teachers and students.
“This approach will provide support to current farmers and educate the next generation of agronomists so that we can increase the number and diversity of people entering science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines related to food and agriculture, or Ag-STEM, ”Mosley mentioned.
“Students are involved in various ways,” he added. “At MTSU, they support research projects. I will have agricultural education students who will support my work in setting up the food systems training center, but not the research. My students will grow vegetables to use in food sensory. The students will participate in food sensory research projects. Here are some ways in which students are involved in research.
“Ultimately, the research will inform teaching, as we will modify the courses as necessary to include the technology acquired through this grant, as well as the information gleaned from the research will be taught in a variety of our agriculture courses. . “
Other MTSU agricultural professors working on the project include Jessica Carter, director of the School of Agriculture; animal science professor Kevin Downs; and Alanna Vaught, director of the graduate program in agricultural education. Agriculture is one of the 11 departments of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences at MTSU.