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Food, Water and Energy Resources Retreat. Stan Johnson, NCFAP. Response to Vice Chancellor Paul. Ideas that appear to have potential for major research programs at UNL. Looking ahead to issues that will be on the research agenda.

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Food, Water and EnergyResources Retreat

Stan Johnson,


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Response to Vice Chancellor Paul

  • Ideas that appear to have potential for major research programs at UNL.

  • Looking ahead to issues that will be on the research agenda.

  • Recognizing that UNL must address issues that are important to the constituents.

  • Understanding the capacities of UNL for research in selected areas.

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Research Programs—two types

  • Cottage industry

  • Major initiatives of the University

  • There is a place for both

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University Initiatives

  • Require time and careful planning

  • Require sharing of the risk

  • Different types of cost sharing

  • Time to initiate is long

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Topics in Food, Water and Energy

  • Ideas on productive possibilities

  • Will almost surely be multi college

  • Could be multi-university

  • Should be undertaken with outside partners

  • Need a product that comes each year

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  • Climate change and food production

  • Food safety—emerging legislation

  • Food production systems

  • Value chain analysis for decisions

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Climate Change and food Production

  • Soy and corn are the crops with resistance breading by the private sector

  • Many of the major crops of the Great Plains are at risk of climate change

  • Need to start now to address climate variability

  • Many of the leaders do not believe there is an impact of climate change

  • USDA/ARS and others are moving in this direction

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Food Safety

  • Emerging legislation

  • New publication may be of interest “Cleaning and Disinfection in the Food Industry”

  • ISO versus detection of contaminates

  • No university is doing much in this area

  • Federal inconsistencies in jurisdiction

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Food Production Systems

  • Great interest in food quality

  • Systems that can produce quality from farmer to consumer

  • Need for location specific suppliers

  • Look at “Whole Foods”

  • Many opportunities for production agriculture

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Value Chain Analysis

  • Widely applied in sectors other than agriculture

  • Good technique to apply with industry representatives

  • Starts with the market and works backwards

  • Should be a part of any new industry activity

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  • Water scarcity, quality and quantity

  • Different types of rationing systems

  • Multi state agreements

  • Evolution with climate change

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Water Scarcity, Quality and Quantity

  • Irrigated systems are at risk if operated on a farm by farm basis

  • Climate change and implications for water

  • Sprinklers and other systems

  • Population concentration and water use demands

  • Nebraska is a water scarce state

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Different Types of Rationing Systems

  • Are current laws out of phase with demands

  • Rationing systems can improve the productivity for all farmers

  • How is the non agricultural systems served?

  • What are future demands and how are plans being made

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Multi State Agreements

  • What is the available framework?

  • How can states work together?

  • What are the stakes?

  • How to manage use productively

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Evolution and Climate Change

  • First evidence will be increased variability

  • Is the university up on the latest climate models

  • Impacts will be for both livestock and crops

  • Now is the time to plan

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  • Move from grains to other feedstocks

  • Rural electric utilities as distributors

  • Conversion processes changing

  • Feedstock production requires water

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Grains to Alternative Feedstocks

  • What are the alternative feedstocks for Nebraska?

  • What is the system for planning for alternative feedstocks?

  • Likely perennial grasses and perhaps Stover

  • Possible links to other universities involved in biofuels

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Rural Electric Utilities as Distributors

  • Most rural utilities see themselves as suppliers

  • In future that will be distributors

  • Good for customers in the cooperative framework

  • Major issue through out the USA

  • Organizations are reluctant to do anything about it

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Conversion Processes Changing

  • Thermo processes gaining in acceptance

  • Possible links to other universities

  • Prices will be different at different times of year—”Price Coherency Study”, implications for ag and energy industries

  • Conversion may be for different energy products

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Feedstock Production Requires Water

  • Is Nebraska a good choice for feedstock production?

  • What is the tradeoff between agricultural and feedstock production?

  • Are there non competitive feedstock alternatives (MSW)

  • Important of long term planning

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Combinations of Issues

  • Climate change

  • Landscape level analysis

  • Efficiency of supply

  • Changing demands due to population movement

  • Emerging technologies

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Climate Change

  • Very popular in federal agencies

  • Important but take on variability first

  • Great Plains could be a hot spot—most production commodities do not benefit from genetic engineering

  • Have to convince the public leaders

  • Climate Centers of the DOI

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Landscape level Analysis

  • Major efforts under way

  • Problems not addressed by local analysis

  • Examples of efforts




    Riparian Areas

  • Great Basin Environmental Program

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Efficiency of Supply

  • Farmer owned systems

  • Start at the farm level and go to the consumer

  • Where is the money—between farm and consumer

  • Use advanced systems ad technologies

  • Use local identity

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Changing Demands Due to Population Migration

  • Population dynamics are up there with Climate change and more pressing

  • In the Plains population dynamics lead to large cities and unpopulated rural areas

  • Must rural populations be always left behind

  • Are there new opportunities for governance

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Emerging Technologies

  • Is agriculture taking advantage of new results and discoveries

  • Rural areas can benefit from digital tech possibilities

  • Efficiency of production systems can benefit as well

  • Landscape level analysis may lead to added adption

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My Bets

  • Landscape level analysis

  • Energy supply and utilities as networks

  • Food systems and quality

  • Climate change but approached softly

  • Limitations in water availability