Udder mysteries: soil biodiversity and fertility in novel climate-smart dairy systems in Rwanda

Marie Schaedel
Applied Plant Sciences
Date and Time:

537 Heller Hall (ICGC)

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Rwanda’s nascent dairy industry has been a focus of government-backed efforts to grow national GDP and alleviate rural poverty. However, environmental externalities associated with livestock farming, such as greenhouse gas emissions and topsoil erosion have raised concerns that dairy production may not be a sustainable avenue for economic growth. Increases in dairy production in Rwanda are also limited by the seasonal availability of high-quality forages, which are crops grown for use as animal feed. Due to global warming, forage crop yields are expected to experience steep declines within the next 30 years. Optimizing land use efficiency and soil nutrient management is therefore critical for agroecological climate adaptation in Rwanda and East Africa more broadly. This seminar will discuss the surprising role of microscopic life in mediating landscape-level processes that affect nutrient cycles, water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, why should we bother with soil microbes and what can they tell us about sustainable farming strategies in East Africa?

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About the Speaker

Marie Schaedel is an ICGC Scholar and PhD candidate in Applied Plant Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation work was conducted in collaboration with the Rwanda Agriculture Board and the International Center for Global Agriculture, which pivoted to a fully remote research project during the COVID-19 pandemic. Marie is defending her dissertation on May 2 and has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University.

Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium

The Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium series offers informal lectures and discussions on current research projects by ICGC Scholars, affiliated faculty, visiting scholars, and practitioners. These events are open to the public. Guests are welcome to bring their lunches and eat during the sessions.