Ecosystem Science

Meeting environmental challenges in the Midwest

To guide farmers in addressing the environmental impacts of agriculture, our team of researchers studies the benefits that agroforestry can offer an ecosystem. Working collaboratively with science and industry leaders, we offer the science needed to make ecologically beneficial investments in our food and farm systems.
Bumblebee visiting a pink flower in a field.

Climate Resilience

To help Midwest farmers build climate resilience, we study the relationships between tree species and their environment to help match tree crops to the landscape. We also work to improve methods of predicting and measuring how much carbon dioxide farmers can draw down for the climate when they plant trees on farms.

Soil Health

Healthy soils are a critical component of well-functioning food production systems and may contribute to carbon removal in agroforestry systems. Our Ecosystem Scientist is researching how soils change after agroforestry is adopted, including rigorously collecting baseline soil conditions at newly established demonstration farms in Wisconsin and Illinois so we can monitor how they change into the future.

Water Quality

Midwest water quality faces a range of threats, many of which are likely to worsen in the face of climate change. Through our stream monitoring and infiltration tests on our demonstration farms, we are assessing how agroforestry impacts water quality outcomes, including nutrient loss and downstream flooding. Our Research Team works to understand how planting tree crops in agroforestry systems can help farmers slow runoff during extreme weather to protect soil health on their land and local streams and lakes.


On our demonstration farms, we are planting thousands of tree crops on former corn and soybean fields. As the land transitions, we are tracking changes in the local wildlife population to quantify the biodiversity benefits that tree crops can provide the ecosystem. At the Spring Green Campus, we’re piloting acoustic bird diversity monitoring, and measuring plant biodiversity on land and invertebrate health in streams that run through our demonstration farms.