Bruno BassoWritten by Andy Balaskovitz, Communications and Outreach Specialist for Environmental Science and Policy Program

The purpose behind Bruno Basso's research is to accomplish a "dual goal," he says: Identify how agricultural crops can yield more while balancing that production in terms of what's best for the farmer and what's best for the environment.

And the two goals are not mutually exclusive, he says: "We can combine this dual goal of sustainability in agriculture."

Basso, a new ESPP affiliated faculty member who will start this fall in the Department of Geological Sciences, brings a deep background on agricultural sciences, particularly crop and soil management and conservation.

A native of Italy, Basso was formerly an associate professor of crop systems, forest and environmental sciences at the University of Basilicata in Potenza, Italy. But he's also familiar with Michigan: He has served as an adjunct professor at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station since 2007 and obtained his Ph.D. from MSU's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences in 2000 after studying under Joe Ritchie ("Basically the pioneer of crop and soil modeling," Basso says).

In his new appointment, Basso will focus on "modeling agro-ecosystems," or managing agricultural production "in the most sustainable way." Yet the key is balancing what's best for the environment with economic production, he says, referring back to the "dual goal" of sustainable agriculture. Or, "What would be the best practice to make profit but with even more emphasis on environmental impacts?"

A portion of Basso's time will also be spent connecting with farmers. He will "convert pretty complicated models" into web-based systems farmers can use to manage their crops and "graph scenarios," he said. Such as: "What happens if I put in 100 kilograms of nitrogen today rather than in a week?" Basso pondered.

Basso first came to Michigan when he was 17 as a way to study English as well as agricultural practices here. He's always felt a connection to agriculture because, "I always like to be in contact with nature." When asked why he feels it's important for farmers to live by the "dual goal," the answer comes quickly: "You won't be able to produce any more if you destroy the land," he says.

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