Sen. Michael Bennet tours ARDEC research stations to learn how agriculture is working on climate change solutions

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet tours the Agricultural Research Demonstration and Education Center (ARDEC) at Colorado State University. May 27, 2022. Photos by John Eisele/CSU

From solar panels to soil science, Colorado State University’s efforts to use agriculture to help solve the climate crisis were showcased during a May 27 visit from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. 

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet talks with postdoctoral researcher Patrick Woods regarding the use of phenotyping techniques to examine the effects of drought and the role plant roots play in carbon sequestration.

The senator from Colorado spent the afternoon at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, touring the Fort Collins facility and learning about the College of Agricultural Sciences’ climate change adaptation and mitigation research. ARDEC is one of 10 research centers that are part of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, established to provide research that fuels hands-on educational opportunities and works with farmers, ranchers, suppliers and processors. 

During his visit, Bennet met with CAS Dean and Director of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station James Pritchett, Associate Dean for Research and University Distinguished Professor Jan Leach and several of the college’s top climate-smart regenerative agriculture researchers. 

Faculty and students gave short presentations on current research projects, including the integration of photovoltaics into horticultural spaces – known as agrivoltaics; management intensive grazing that supports livestock and soil health while limiting greenhouse gas emissions and maximizing water use; the carbon and greenhouse gas accounting software systems, COMET-Farm and COMET-Planner; the use of phenotyping techniques to examine the effects of drought and the role plant roots play in carbon sequestration; sustainable solutions for animal agriculture; and the University’s new Soil Carbon Solutions Center. Started through a collaboration between the Energy Institute, the Office of the Vice President for Research and CAS, the center leverages CSU’s world-class expertise to address climate change by accelerating the development of agricultural technology to increase soil carbon capture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“CSU is probably the number one institution in the world working on agriculture and greenhouse gas mitigation,” said University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences Keith Paustian. “We’ve got more expertise, more reputation than anybody in that area. And now we have a unique opportunity to really move the needle nationally and internationally in terms of the science and technology education that can underpin this whole effort.” 

Bennet, who was instrumental in securing federal funding to support the center, said he was impressed with CSU’s efforts to find climate change solutions, and prepare the agricultural industry’s next generation. 

“CSU is on the forefront of researching the effects of climate change on our agriculture industry, building resilience and ensuring farmers and ranchers are part of the solution,” Bennet said. “The $1 million in federal funding we secured will help scientists and researchers at CSU’s Soil Carbon Solutions Center accelerate the development of technologies to increase soil carbon capture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This kind of innovative technology will help us meet our climate goals and protect our way of life here in Colorado.”