Surrogate sire research: Precision genetics to improve the sustainability of steak
By Maci Mueller, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
Beef cattle are raised all around the world. They are able to convert one of nature’s most abundant and raw resources – grass – into one of the most nutrient dense food sources available. However, some breeds of cattle can convert feed into beef more efficiently than others.
Dairy Cattle Metabolic Capacity: Milking It for all It’s Worth
By Linda Beckett, 2019-2022 FFAR Fellow
Remember back in elementary school when you learned that cows have four stomachs? Did anyone else think that was bizarre, yet cool at the same time? Given that humans are “one stomach” or monogastric mammals, most of my third-grade peers deemed all ruminant species to be “weird”. In fact, ruminant digestive systems are incredibly efficient and much less strange than one may think. My research aims to better understand how the ruminant digestive system, specifically the liver, contributes to energy production and amino acid metabolism. These processes are necessary for a healthy cow and successful farmer.
Climate change and Dairy Farming: Beating the Heat
By Ananda Fontoura, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
Imagine cattle living in Brazil, where temperatures range from 95 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, suffering from grave heat exposure. Fast shallow breathing, profusely sweating, drooling and panting as they overheat, walking less, looking for shade and drinking triple the amount of water. As a practicing veterinarian in Pará State, this was an unforgettable sight I couldn’t unsee.
Combating Herbicide Resistance
By Abby Barker, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
If you have ever cared for a garden or a lawn, you know weeds are pesky plants that show up every year without fail. While they come in many shapes and sizes, weeds generally share some characteristics: fast growth, competitive, high seed production, genetic diversity and that one thing that universally defines them— their presence where we don’t want them.
Even the longest journey starts with one little step
By Francesco Cappai, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
Hello reader, let me introduce myself. I am Francesco Cappai, an Italian student currently pursuing a Ph. D. in the US at the University of Florida and a FFAR Fellow. I would like to share my story with special attention to our younger colleagues interested in pursuing a career in agricultural sciences who might find themselves wondering “Can my job make a difference?”.
Feedback Loops and Food Access
By Gwendolyn Donley, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
We see cycles of problems and solutions in our everyday lives. For example, when I’m happy, I play with my dog, Koschei, more, and when I play with Koschei more, I become happier. This is an example of a reinforcing feedback loop – events or behaviors linked in a way to amplify or balance each other over time. Some cycles, such as those aptly named “balancing feedback loops,” balance out over time ]. When I’m hungry, I eat. After I eat, I’m not hungry, so I stop eating for a while. And so the cycle continues. We live in a world of balancing and reinforcing loops pulling us toward an equilibrium. Right now, we’re experiencing disruptions to our normal equilibrium with system-wide shifts brought on by COVID-19.
Vitamin A, Healthy Cows, and Less Antibiotics
By Jaime Strickland, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. That link between health and diet applies not only to people, but also to animals. As a FFAR Fellow, I am researching the role between the diet and health of dairy cows, specifically the role of vitamin A.
Can biochar help adapt agriculture to a hotter, dryer climate?
By Shelby Hoglund, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
Let’s talk about desert agriculture. Warning: you may feel thirsty. Agriculture in the arid Southwestern United States is productive year-round, with conditions that permit crops to grow the entire year. But with a predicted hotter, dryer climate looming in the near future, desert agriculture faces challenges.
Food for the Future: How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Drought Resistance
By Kevin Xie, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2); plants do the opposite. But how, exactly, do plants “breathe”? My interest in plants traces way back to when I was in grade school. I was given some ugly seeds to sow in pots on the balcony of my home and was amazed when spectacular flowers grew over the following months. Since then, I have enjoyed growing plants as a hobby and later further redirected my research interest into crops to help breeding for the future warmer and drier environment. Understanding how plants “breathe” is a key step in knowing how efficient they can produce.
Milkweeds: Medicine for Monarchs?
By Annie Krueger, 2018-2021 FFAR Fellow
Imagine a world where farmers could no longer use most insecticides, had limited access to herbicides and that these setbacks were caused by a butterfly.
The monarch butterfly, the same butterfly you may have once watched emerge from a chrysalis in a third-grade classroom, is currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Milkweed, the host plant for monarchs breeding habitat, has been greatly reduced due to an expansion of farmland and increased use of herbicides, contributing to a dramatic population decline for monarchs.