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UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm leaves visitors impressed

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Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 6:21 pm | Updated: 6:24 pm, Thu Jan 9, 2014.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — What University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank already knew was reinforced today in her first visit to UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm.

“It was a great visit, and its good to know more about Platteville,” she said, “and to hear about the many ways in which I think we’re already working together. Hopefully we can find some other ways to work together in the future.”

Blank’s visit focused on collaboration between UW-Madison and Pioneer Farm. John Shutske, UW-Madison associate dean for Extension and Outreach discussed Discovery Farms and how Madison collaborates on research with UW Extension. That research and collaboration includes UW-P.

Discovery Farms are real working farms throughout Wisconsin’s agricultural landscape that are facing different environmental challenges. The Discovery Farms program is an effort by UW Extension and UW-Madison that takes a real-world approach to finding the most economical solutions. It develops on-farm and related research to determine the economic and environmental effects of agricultural practices on a diverse group of Wisconsin farms; and educates and improves communications among the agricultural community, consumers, researchers and policy-makers to better identify and implement effective environmental management practices compatible with profitable agriculture.

Prior to coming to UW-Madison in July, Blank served in top positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She was impressed with what she saw today.

“It’s the widespread research, not just in Wisconsin, but both across the country and even around the world, of sharing information on the ways which pollutants move through soils, and what this tells us about how you need to farm sustainably, and what you need to monitor to see how you are farming,” Blank said.

She called the presentations outlining Pioneer Farm research and collaboration what Discovery Farms important and interesting.

That research has far-ranging reaches, according to Dennis Shields, UW-P chancellor.

“Our students, our graduates, our faculty are going to be having a global impact,” he said. “That’s what becomes more and more obvious to us. What farmers are doing in southwest Wisconsin and in the state of Wisconsin are going to have an impact on China and Brazil. It’s good for us to understand that, and know that our end product, our students, are going to benefit from that.”

Ben Brancel, state agriculture secretary and UW-P alumnus, joined Blank for her visit.

“When you come here out on the farm, at one time it was only used as a place for students to judge maybe a few animals, and do some work on the farm if they had a student employment opportunity,” he said. “Now it becomes a valuable resource for research. It has a chance to educate kids on components of agriculture that in the past they weren’t even made aware of when they were going to school.”

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