Smart Foodscapes

A transformative paradigm for western U.S. beef production


Our Hypothesis

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Approximately six million beef calves are produced annually in the western U.S. alone, and ranchers must maintain profitable operations while addressing the growing number of consumers seeking environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable food. In response to these concerns, we propose the development of smart foodscapes as a transformative paradigm for western U.S. beef production.

Our hypothesis is that a diversity of deep-rooted perennial legumes and forbs with high nutrient content and the presence of functional biochemicals can be grown and stockpiled in “islands” across the landscape to be used as low-cost supplementation for beef cattle to enhance productivity and biodiversity while reducing environmental impacts.

Thus, our long-term goal is to improve the sustainability of beef production through the establishment of islands of multifunctional diversity in rangelands. We will screen a wide selection of plants for synergisms that will be tested for their impacts on beef cattle performance, health, 

nutrient losses to the soil and atmosphere, habitat for pollinators, wildlife, and economic viability (research objectives). Research will be integrated with grazing schools, assessments of adoption, and producer engagement (extension objectives). We will integrate garden-based learning and smart foodscapes into Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics (STEAM) teaching and learning (education objectives), and all objectives into a comprehensive outreach program.

This transdisciplinary project will contribute to create more sustainable beef production systems while engaging and educating current and future land stewards.

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