New OAC prof studies eco services of crops

New OAC prof studies eco services of crops
Jan 07, 2020

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Dr. Kimberley Schneider will increase industry knowledge about the agronomic and environmental benefits of forages and service crops 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The University of Guelph’s Ontario Agriculture College (OAC) is welcoming a new professor to its faculty this semester. Dr. Kimberley Schneider started her role in the department of plant agriculture on Jan. 2 and will “lead a comprehensive research program focused on forage species adapted to Ontario, and other crops grown for the provision of ecosystem services,” according to a Dec. 18 news release from the OAC.

Schneider will conduct research on species “grown for another reason other than just producing a crop yield or profit,” she told Farms.com.

“That would include cover crops,” she said, but also may include other species that promote biodiversity, provide pollinator habitat, enhance nutrient use efficiency and sequester carbon.

“One of my areas of interest is looking at how plant type – whether that’s annual or perennial or legume or non-legume species – affects the soil organic matter quality, not just the quantity that’s there,” which indicates the stability of the carbon in the soil, Schneider explained.

“My hope for this position is to work across disciplines,” she added. Her diverse research background would lend itself to collaboration with other agronomists in the department, soil scientists, and livestock grazing experts. Opportunities also exist to work with ag groups outside of academia.

“I’m open to and definitely keen to work with industry and better explore what their needs are,” Schneider said.

“I hope to find a balance between research that fills gaps in the literature and overlaps with meeting local producers’ needs,” she explained.

Filling research gaps and industry needs includes studying the ecosystem services that crops provide. In the long term, she hopes such information could promote more growth of forages and service crops.

“I’m a little bit concerned about forages, in general, (being) on the decline in Ontario agriculture, so it might be more of a longer-term goal (to find) a way that I can contribute to promoting the value of having forages in rotation,” she explained.

Schneider’s research would investigate “where economic and environmental services align,” she said.

While teaching students in the OAC, “I hope to link the knowledge they have to learn in the course with practical real-world examples,” she said. It is her goal to “increase (students’) interest in the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture.”

 

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