My Summer GLI Experience with Sustainable Agriculture

This summer I was given the opportunity to participate in ongoing research surrounding sustainable agriculture. With the GLI theme of natural resources and sustainability this internship gave me a lot of great insight into the role that sustainable agriculture is going to play in our changing world. My experience took place in and around Fort Collins, CO. through Colorado State University’s AgNext group. This group focuses on bringing cooperate agriculture, academia, and local ranchers closer together to find plausible solutions to decreasing the amount of methane and cardon dioxide emissions seen in modern agriculture.

Although agriculture continues to receive a lot of criticism from outside sources one thing I learned while I was there is that local farmers/ranchers have a different definition of sustainability than the media does. What I learned is that for these farmers and ranchers view sustainability as whatever is going to keep them producing into the next year. This means that the solutions that AgNext is coming up with has to give them the bang for their buck or they most likely will not participate. From a cooperate perspective “sustainability” has become a buzz word that businesses use to get the consumer to feel good about investing in their product. For AgNext this means ensuring that what corporations are putting out into the media is actually what they are doing behind the scenes. Before this internship I looked at sustainability more from a natural resource perspective, but after this internship I realized that there a lot of different definitions for this word and while they all ultimately have the same goal, the execution is going to be different.

Boris the research steer chilling in the Diamond V pen where we were studying the use of feed additives on methane emissions.

One of the things I am most grateful for from this internship is the opportunities they gave me to grow as a leader. All of the research I was helping on was being conduced by grad students. I was able to work on a wide variety of projects including studies with Merck Animal Health, Diamond V, and USDA-ARS. My internship gave me a lot of autonomy and room to voice my own ideas about how we could solve problems that we ended up running into with some of these projects. The grad students made it feel like an actual team and were always available if I ever had any questions. Overall, this internship made me a lot better at asking clarifying questions and be willing to not always have the final say in how things were going to go. I also learned a lot of problem solving skills, since a lot of the technology that we were using to measure methane emissions were very high tech and on the newer end of development.

Steer using Greenfeed to measure individual animals methane emissions at USDA-ARS study site in Nunn, CO.
Me opening the computer in the Greenfeed system to diagnose a problem. This Greenfeed is from the first generation of Greenfeeds produced by C-Lock about 10 years ago, so in many respects it is a dinosaur and requires a lot of extra attention.

If you would like to learn more about AgNext and the research that they are doing please feel free to visit their website, Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to learn more about C-Lock system visit there website. All linked below.

Facebook: @CSUAgNext

Twitter: @CSUAgNext

AgNext Website: https://agnext.colostate.edu/

C-Lock: https://www.c-lockinc.com/

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