Landlabs: An Integrated Approach to Creating Agricultural Enterprises That Meet the Triple Bottom Line

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Jordan, Nicholas
Schulte, Lisa
Williams, Carol
Mulla, David
Pitt, David
Slotterback, Carissa
Jackson, Randall
Landis, Douglas
Dale, Bruce
Becker, Dennis
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is dedicated to the understanding, effective management, and sustainable use of our renewable natural resources through the land-grant missions of teaching, research, and extension.
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Global demand is increasing for food, feed, and fiber; for additional agricultural outputs, such as biofuels; and for ecosystem services, such as clean water and outdoor recreation. In response, new agricultural enterprises are needed that produce more outputs from existing lands while meeting the "triple bottom line" of high performance in economic, environmental, and social terms. Establishing such enterprises requires coordination and development within three critical domains: landscape configurations (i.e., types and arrangements of land uses), supply/value chains (i.e., processing and utilization), and policy and governance. In this essay, we describe our efforts, as land-grant university scientists, to support coordinated innovation and enterprise development in integrated place-based institutions, which we term landlabs. We describe our experiences in three prototyping efforts and outline key features of landlabs that are emerging from these efforts. Land-grant universities have a central and crucial role to play in organizing and operating landlabs.


This article is from Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement 17 (2013): 175. Posted with permission.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013