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K-State Today

November 4, 2011

Conserving our future: K-State researcher to present information on CRP decisions and changing agricultural landscape

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

The Conservation Reserve Program will be the topic of a presentation by a Kansas State University agricultural economics researcher for the department of geography colloquium series.

Russell Graves, research associate in agricultural economics, will present "The Conservation Reserve Program and the Changing Kansas Agricultural Landscape" at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, in 132 Seaton Hall.

Charles Martin, interim head of the geography department, said the research Graves will present is funded by the National Science Foundation, and is part of a joint project between K-State and the University of Kansas, "Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers' Land-Use Decisions."

Since the Conservation Reserve Program came to be in 1985, Graves said the program has been utilized by approximately one-third of all Kansas landowners. The state will have more than 2.3 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program land expiring from 10-year set-aside contracts between 2009-2013, the third highest total in the country.

"As part of a large National Science Foundation grant program involving researchers from K-State and KU, I have been involved in a major land-use survey of 10,000 Kansas farmers regarding their land-use decision-making practices," Graves said. "One aspect of the survey addressed considerations for conservation practices, and in particular, decision-making practices related to expiring CRP contracts."

As the program presents a steady source of income, especially as farmers become more elderly or as production costs continue to increase, Graves said that a number of landowners will choose to renew their expired contracts. Emerging markets for cellulosic feedstocks, such as corn stover, sweet sorghum and switch grass, may provide an alternative land-use option for those Kansas farmers faced with an expiring Conservation Reserve Program contract.

"Agriculture has long been viewed as an important part of the Kansas economy, so anything that affects the agricultural landscape is of interest to many Kansans," Martin said. "Since Kansas State University is a land-grant institution, it has a long tradition of education and research in agriculture, such as the work Russell is doing."

Graves' research interests include Conservation Reserve Program decision-making practices, especially related to potential biofuel productions, as well as changing irrigation practices in southwest Kansas. Graves, who earned his doctorate in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, grew up in Chapman, Kan.