2018 Larson Allmaras Lecture

May 4, 2018 | 2 PM


The 16th William E. Larson and Raymond R. Allmaras Emerging Issues in Soil and Water Lecture

Manure Happens: Unintended consequences of nourishing over seven billion human omnivores

Dr. Eric Davidson

Humans have profoundly altered the global nitrogen cycle in an effort to feed over 7 billion people. Humanity has disrupted the nitrogen cycle even more than the carbon cycle, leading to widespread effects on ecosystems, biodiversity, human health, and climate. There have been important successes in reducing nitrogen emissions to the atmosphere by industrial and transportation sectors, and this has improved air quality. Effective solutions for reducing nitrogen losses from agriculture to groundwater and surface waters have also been identified, although considerable political, social, and economic impediments to their adoption remain. At the same time, demand for food is growing. One effort to integrate and frame socioeconomic and ecological challenges is the Sustainable Agricultural Matrix, which is a collection of quantifiable indicators from environmental, social, and economic dimensions, selected according to criteria of sustainability, data availability, data quality, and the potential to evaluate trade-offs at national scales. 

Event Speaker

Mr. John Jaschke | Introductory Speaker 

Executive Director of the MN Board on Soil and Water on the new Minnesota Soil Health Initiative.

Dr. Eric Davidson | Keynote Speaker 

Eric A. Davidson is Director and Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Frostburg, MD. Previously, he was a Senior Scientist and served a term as President and Executive Director at the Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA. His research in biogeochemistry includes the exchange of plant nutrients from the land to streams and groundwater and the exchange of greenhouse gases between the soil and the atmosphere. He works in a variety of ecosystems, including forests and agricultural lands in North and South America. Davidson holds a Ph.D. in forestry from North Carolina State University and held post-doctoral positions in soil microbiology and biogeochemistry at the UC-Berkeley and the NASA Ames Research Center. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and President of the 60,000-member scientific society, the American Geophysical Union. He served as the Coordinator of the North American Center for the International Nitrogen Initiative and is the leader of a Research Coordination Network on Reactive Nitrogen in the Environment. Davidson has written a popular book, You Can’t Eat GNP, which explores the links between economics and ecology for students and laypersons.