Crop diversification offers opportunities to address both the economic and environmental challenges facing agriculture in Wisconsin. New specialty crops offer higher margin opportunities for farmers and processors. Perennial crops and continuous living cover cropping systems, such as perennial grains and winter oilseeds, offer solutions to persistent soil and water quality problems. More diversity on the agricultural landscape provides greater resiliency in the face of extreme weather, climate uncertainty, and global market forces.
Launched in 2021, the UW Emerging Crops Accelerator is a collaboration of UW-Madison faculty and Extension educators from around the state working to support new crop development. Team members are engaged in germplasm development, agronomic research, and market and supply chain development needed to empower growers to adopt these crops. The team is working to recruit the many people needed to commercialize all aspects of each crop and build coalitions with farmers, entrepreneurs, non-profits, private companies, grower associations, and other stakeholders who share an interest in new crops. Doing this work will not be easy, but we are laying the foundation and securing the funding necessary to carry on this work long-term.