Since our last review [in 1992], our areas of research, education and outreach have shifted from traditional discipline-based programs to a more holistic, interdisciplinary approach to solving the issues facing society of food, feed, fuel and environmental protection. Many faculty across numerous disciplines within the Department are actively engaged in research, education and outreach on multifunctional agriculture and are providing leadership across the University focusing on the joint production of agricultural products and ecological services. These faculty have expanded their activities to more broadly focus on key issues of strategic agricultural diversification and perennialization of cropping systems and agroecosystems. Faculty continue to focus on crop breeding, molecular genetics, and genomics for the development for the development for food, feedstocks, pharmaceuticals and bioenergy generated from diversified cropping systems while simultaneously protecting water quality and conserving ecological resources. There will be considerable breakthroughs in genomics and molecular genetics that will continue to compliment our strong plant breeding programs.
Challenges and opportunities continue to face the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. The need for plant breeding, genetics, and agronomic research and expertise in the dynamic and diverse economy of Minnesota is as vital as ever to meet the issues related to agriculture and a growing world population. Our major strengths include biotechnology and physiology; crop production and ecology including cropping systems diversity, sustainable agriculture, and human and plant health; plant breeding and genetics including crop variety development and value-added traits; and weed science. We feel we are strongly positioned to take on the challenges facing agriculture now and in the future.