A Place without Limits: NU's Leading Role in Ag Innovation

By Renee Pflughaupt

The University of Nebraska, as a leader in agricultural research and innovation, has the support, the talent and the resources to help ease food scarcity concerns worldwide.

Those are the words of James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska. Milliken said that "the world faces a significant challenge" concerning food scarcity issues related to population growth that is expected to increase from the current seven billion to nine billion by 2050.

"If we have a challenge at seven billion, we're clearly going to have a challenge at nine billion," he said. And the world, he added, has only a finite amount of land and water resources.

"The solution," Milliken said, "has to be innovation and science. And that's what universities like the University of Nebraska do."

A land-grant university

Nebraska, Milliken said, has a history of being engaged in agricultural research and extension. For years the university has been working with local farmers, institutions, other universities and governments in addressing food production issues.

The University of Nebraska was established in 1869 as part of the Morrill Act of 1862. This act granted federally-controlled land to individual states to establish land-grant universities. The focus of these schools would be to teach agriculture, science and engineering.

The University of Nebraska's mission as a land-grant university expands far beyond this. Milliken said places like NU are "places where not only is there research done, but there is a model of transmitting that research into the field."

Agricultural research has been critically important, Milliken said, for the state of Nebraska. And for that reason, the university is increasing its investment in its agriculture, research and education programs.

"We think it's critically important," Milliken said. "It's important for Nebraska as long as any of us will be around."

Investing in the future

The university has taken on a number of initiatives to expand its work in agricultural research, including Nebraska Innovation Campus and the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute.

Nebraska Innovation Campus, to be built on land granted by the state of Nebraska to UNL in 2009, will "link the capabilities of the private sector with the university," Milliken said.

The Daugherty Water for Food Institute will bring the university to "a key place in the world, in this discussion about how you more effectively use water for increased productivity in agriculture," Milliken said.

Such investments, he said, will only increase the mark the university makes in the world. And as the prestige of the university grows, it "becomes a place that's a magnet for the best talent."

"It's enormously beneficial to the state of Nebraska," he added. "We [Nebraskans] will benefit from the research that's done here. Our students will benefit from the talent that's here and the education that they get. And the state of Nebraska will benefit."

Reaching beyond borders

The university, while benefiting the state of Nebraska, is also looking to institutions and countries worldwide to share its agricultural research.

"The world," Milliken said, "faces a significant challenge... We are going to have to help people understand, here and elsewhere, how to be more productive."

The university accomplishes this in part through extension programs. Extension faculty extend their research findings to various extension centers throughout the State of Nebraska. But the university's work doesn't stop at the state's border.

Milliken said the university has a rich history of using science to change the world, such as during the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s-a series of agricultural research initiatives focused on increasing food production worldwide.

Thanks to the Green Revolution, tens of millions of people survived, he said, who wouldn't have otherwise without the research and development of wheat strains that increased food productivity in those areas.

And that legacy continues today. More recently, Milliken said, software written by NU faculty was used in China to increase corn production. As a result of this technology, the corn yield doubled with half the fertilizer and half the water.

"The research at the University of Nebraska," Milliken said, "has no limits. And there's no reason that we can't be an effective partner with people anywhere in the world."


The Morrill Act of 1862


A Message From:

Harvey Perlman

Ronnie Green

Steven Waller

Facing the Global Food Challenge

A Place Without Limits: NU's Leading Role in Ag Innovation - J.B. Milliken

"Ag is Sexy Again" as Global Need for Food Increases- Ronnie Green

Today's Students- Learning to Solve the Challenge of Feeding the World- Steven Waller

Ag Researchers' New Knowledge Benefits Nebraska, the World - Ron Yoder

"Failure is Not an Option" in Addressing Global Food Scarcity- Archie Clutter

Nebraska Innovation Campus Will Address Global Food Issues- Dan Duncan

Lenton the Founding Director of Daugherty Water for Food Institute- Roberto Lenton

Growing More Food with Less Water, Improving Global Water Condition- Marc Andreini

Dickey Reflects on Years as Dean of Extension- Elbert Dickey

Food Scarcity Information Dissemination Complex, Vital- Karen Cannon

Technology and Food

Driving Toward the Future of Biofuels, Molecular Nutrition- Paul Black

Nebraska- the Food Capital of the World?- Rolando Flores

Is a Fully-Sustainable World Within Reach?- Mark Burbach

Agricultural Efficiency Sustains Resources, Produces More- Roch Gaussoin

Technology, Teamwork and Stewardship Vital in Meeting 2050 Global Food Need- P. Stephen Baenziger

UNL Research, Extension Help Ag Producers Manage a Changing Climate- Suat Irmak

Protein Production Essential in Feeding the World- Matt Spangler

Nebraska's Irrigation Research Goes Global- William Kranz

The Plight of the Honey Bee- Marion Ellis

Global Goal: Reducing Hunger, Ensuring Food Safety and Nutrition- Tim Carr

Society's Health Reflects Changing Food Culture- Georgia Jones and Marilynn Schnepf

Steps to Building a Healthier World- Jean Ann Fischer

Economics of Food

Ag Economists- Working to Assure Abundant, Safe Food- Larry Van Tassell

Global Food Scarcity, Distribution, Roadblocks- Dennis Conley

Global Economics Research Explains Food Scarcity Challenges- Lilyan Fulginiti

World Food Supply Adequate, but Poverty is the Problem- Wes Peterson

Ag Land Reflects Value of Growing Food for the Future- Bruce Johnson

Strengthening World Economies, Increased Production Key to Food Challenges- Eric Thompson

There is No Place Like Nebraska for Meeting Food Challenges- Greg Ibach

A Land of Plenty- Exporting to the World Stan Garbacz- Stan Garbacz