Fifty years ago, Kikkoman Foods opened its first U.S.-based soy sauce production plant in Walworth, Wisconsin, launching the company’s partnership with the state and its flagship university. To celebrate this enduring connection, Kikkoman has presented CALS with a $3 million gift. The donation will support two CALS research programs that aim to protect the assets that drew the world’s leading soy sauce producer to Wisconsin in the first place.
“The time-honored, traditional brewing process for soy sauce uses just four simple ingredients: water, soybeans, wheat, and salt,” says Yuzaburo Mogi, honorary chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Kikkoman Corporation. “Through this donation, we’re providing meaningful benefits to the region and the world because we’re helping ensure the sustainability of agricultural systems and natural resources that contribute to producing soy sauce into the future.”
The gift will be directed to the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) and Grassland 2.0. Both programs serve as hubs for researchers and outreach specialists from across the college, including the agronomy, soil science, entomology, plant pathology, and community and environmental sociology departments.
Housed at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, WICST is a long-term field experiment where researchers manage nine cropping systems that represent much of Wisconsin’s agricultural landscape. (See The Science Farm, Grow, Spring 2017, and Can Farms Pull Carbon from Sky to Soil?, Grow, Summer 2023.) Studies there explore how alternative approaches to crop and livestock production affect yields, soil carbon, nutrient dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity.
WICST is unique among long-term agroecological experiments in both its scale and scope. It incorporates organic and nonorganic commodity-grain, dairyforage rotations, rotationally grazed livestock on pasture and prairie, and grasslands harvested for second-generation biofuels.
“The value of the program for understanding agroecosystem sustainability increases over time, but the ability to support it with grant funds becomes more difficult,” says Randy Jackson, WICST director and professor in the Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences. “Kikkoman’s support helps ensure the integrity of our 34-year-old cropping systems experiment into the future.”
Grassland 2.0 is a research, engagement, and teaching project; its goal is to understand how cropping systems can be transformed to function more like the original prairie. This work includes exploring how cropping systems, such as soybeans, wheat, maize, alfalfa, and grasslands, can be configured on landscapes to improve soil health, cleanse waterways, reduce flooding, and enhance biodiversity, all while providing opportunities for young and new farmers.
“The support we are receiving from Kikkoman for Grassland 2.0 will help us grow the project into a movement that’s focused on local community processes of placemaking, which are geared toward helping communities be more sustainable and resilient in the face of 21st-century challenges,” says Jackson, who also leads Grassland 2.0. Kikkoman hosted an anniversary celebration on June 9, 2023, at the Wisconsin-U.S.-Japan Economic Development Conference, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The celebration included a special event to recognize the donation to CALS. UW Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin, CALS Dean Glenda Gillaspy, research scientist Gregg Sanford MS’07, PhD’12, and Jackson attended to accept the gift. Governor Tony Evers was also at the event to proclaim June 9 as Kikkoman Day.
This article was posted in Changing Climate, Fall 2023, Food Systems, High Yield and tagged Agronomy, Grassland 2.0, Kikkoman Corporation, Kikkoman Foods, Randy Jackson, soy sauce, Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial, Yuzaburo Mogi.