I oversee all farming and experimental operations at the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) in addition to managing a network of bioenergy cropping systems trials throughout WI. WICST is a long-term (29 y), large scale (60 ac) cropping systems experiment designed to evaluate the trade-offs of alternative agricultural productions strategies and issues of agricultural sustainability in organic and conventional farming systems. My current work involves analysis and publication of data from WICST and the bioenergy trials as it pertains to the productivity, profitability, and environmental impact of alternative agricultural production strategies for feed and fuel.
In addition to my research responsibilities I teach two courses for the University of Wisconsin’s 132 year old Farm and Industry Short Course. These courses cover the production and management of grain crops (corn, soybean, wheat) and forage crops (alfalfa, clovers, pasture).
Research and Professional Interests
My primary research interests revolve around the idea of sustainable intensification in Agriculture. Under a model of sustainable intensification the goal is to maintain or increase agricultural productivity while simultaneously improving the ecosystem services provided by an agricultural system (e.g. water filtration, carbon sequestration). There are many approaches and practices that fit this model such as re-integrating crop and livestock production, using cover crops, planting perennial crops such as alfalfa or grasses, and reducing tillage. I am interested in what combinations of such management practices optimize production and sustainability in both organic and conventional cropping systems.
- Ph.D. 2012 University of Wisconsin, Madison – Agronomy/Soil Science Dissertation: Agroecosystem land management and its effect on soil organic carbon stocks and dynamics in the Mollisols of southern Wisconsin
- M.S. 2007 University of Wisconsin, Madison – Agronomy Thesis: Dairy slurry in corn based systems: impacts on soil compaction and profitability
- B.A. 2002 New College of Florida – Biology/Field Botany Thesis: The Flora of Bailey’s Cay, Roatan Honduras
Osterholz, W.R., Shaviv, A., Rinot, O., Linker, R., Liebman, M., Sanford, G.R., Strock, J., and M.J. Castellano. 2017. Predicting gross nitrogen mineralization and potentially mineralizable N using soil organic matter properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2017.02.005
Sanford, G.R., Oates, L.G., Roley, S., Duncan, D.S., Jackson, R.D., Robertson, G.P., and K.D. Thelen. 2017. Biomass production a stronger driver of cellulosic ethanol yield than biomass quality. Agronomy Journal. 109. doi:10.2134/agronj2016.08.0454
Hossard, L., Archer, D.W., Bertrand, M., Colnenne-David, C., Debaeke, P., Ernfors, M., Jeuffroy, M.H., Munier-Jolain, N., Nilsson, C., Richard, G., Sanford, G.R., Snapp, S.S., Jensen, E.S., and D. Makowski. 2016. A meta-analysis of maize and wheat yields in low-input vs. conventional and organic systems. Agronomy Journal. 108:1155-1167.
Liang, C., Kao-Kniffin, J., Sanford, G.R., Wickings, K., Balser, T.C., and R.D. Jackson. 2016. Microorganisms and their residues under restored perennial grassland communities of varying diversity. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 103:192-200. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2016.08.002
Oates, L.G., Duncan, D.S., Sanford, G.R., Liang, C., and R.D. Jackson. 2016. Bioenergy cropping systems that incorporate native grasses stimulate growth of plant-associated soil microbes in the absence of nitrogen fertilization. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment. 233:396-403.
Ong, R.G., Higbee, A., Bottoms, S., Dickinson, Q., Xie, D., Smith, S.A., Serate, J., Pohlman, E., Jones, A.D., Coon, J.J., Sato, T.K., Sanford, G.R., Eliert, D., Oates, L.G., Piotrowski, J.S., Bates, D.M., Cavalier, D., and Y.P. Zhang. 2016. Inhibition of microbial biofuel production in drought-stressed switchgrass hydrolysate. Biotechnology for Biofuels. 9. doi:10.1186/s13068-016-0657-0
Sanford, G.R., Oates, L.G., Jasrotia, P., Thelen, K.D., Jackson, R.D. and G.P. Robertson. 2016. Comparative productivity of alternative cellulosic bioenergy cropping systems in the North Central U.S.A. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 216:344-355.
Skevas, T., Swinton, S., Tanner, S., Sanford, G.R., and K. Thelen. 2016. Investment risk in bioenergy crops. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. 8:1162-1177.
Serate, J., Xie, D., Pholmann, E., Donald Jr., C., Shabani, M., Hinchman, L., Higbee, A.,
Mcgee, M.,La Reau, A., Klinger, G., Li, S., Myers, C.L., Boone, C.M., Bates, D., Cavalier, D., Eilert, D., Oates, L.G., Sanford, G.R., Sato, T., Dale, B., Landick, R., Piotrowski, J., Ong, R.G., and Y. Zhang. 2015. Controlling microbial contamination during hydrolysis of AFEX-pretreated corn stover and switchgrass: effects on hydrolysate composition, microbial response and fermentation. Biotechnology for Biofuels. 8:180.
Hedtcke, J.L, Sanford, G.R., Hadley, K.E, and K.D. Thelen. 2014. Maximizing land use during switchgrass establishment in the North Central United States. Agronomy Journal. 106: 596-604.
Sanford, G.R., and C.J. Kucharik. 2013. Effect of methodological consideration on soil carbon parameter estimates obtained via the acid hydrolysis-incubation method. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 67: 295-305.
Sanford, G.R., Posner, J.L., Kucharik, C.J., Jackson, R.D., Hedtcke, J.L. and T. Lin. 2012. Soil carbon lost from Mollisols of the North Central U.S.A. with 20 years of agricultural best management practices. Agricultrue Ecosystems and Environment. 162:68-76.
Liang, C., Sanford, G.R., Jackson, R.D., and T.C. Balser. 2011. Potential legacy effects of biofuel cropping systems on soil microbial communities in southern Wisconsin, USA. Journal of Agricultural Sciences. 2:131-137.
Sanford, G.R., Cook, A.R., Posner, J.L., Hedtcke, J.L., Hall, J.A., and J.O. Baldock. 2009. Linking Wisconsin dairy and grain farms via manure transfer for corn production. Agronomy Journal. 101:167-174.
Sanford, G.R., Posner, J.L., and G.L. Hadley. 2009. Economics of hauling dairy slurry and its value in Wisconsin corn grain systems. Agriculture Food and Environmental Science. 3:1-10.
Sanford, G.R., Posner, J.L., Schuler, R.T., and J.O. Baldock. 2008. Effect of dairy slurry on soil compaction and corn (Zea mays L.) yield in southern Wisconsin. Journal of Soil and Tillage Research. 100:42-53.
Manuscripts in preparation
Oates, L.G., Sanford, G.R., Roley, S., Robertson, G.P., and R.D. Jackson. 2017. Senescence and mechanical biomass loss in the production of dedicated bioenergy cropping systems. Agron J. in prep
Sanford, G.R., Ferraro, J., Robertson, G.P., Thelen, K.D and R.D. Jackson. 2017. Comparative productivity of alternative cellulosic bioenergy cropping systems on marginal lands in the North Central USA. Ag. Ecosys. Env. in prep
Sanford, G.R., Cates, A., von Haden, A.C., Roley, S., Robertson, G.P., and R.D. Jackson. 2017. Soil carbon dynamics in dedicated bioenergy crops. Ag. Ecosys. Env. in prep
Sanford, G.R., and C.J. Kucharik. In prep. Soil carbon dynamics along an agroecosystem land-cover gradient on Mollisols of southern Wisconsin. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. in prep
Sanford, G.R., Oates, L.G., Jasrotia, P., Thelen, K.D., Robertson, G.P., and R.D. Jackson. 2015. Comparative productivity of maize, switchgrass, Miscanthus, poplar, prairie, and other cellulosic bioenergy crops in the North Central US. In. Aspects of Applied Biology: Biomass and Energy Crops V. Carlton, R., Halford, N., Karp, A., Lindegaard, K., Shield, I., and P. Thornley Eds. AAB, Warwick, UK. pp. 19-23.
Sanford, G.R., Posner, J.L., Hedtcke, J.L., and R.D. Jackson. 2015. The Wisconsin integrated cropping systems trial: 26 years of research in agricultural sustainability. In. Aspects of Applied Biology 128: Valuing long-term sites and experiments for agriculture and ecology. Peacock, S., Smith, B.M., Stockdale, E.A., and C. Watson Eds. AAB, Warwick, UK. pp. 249-251.
Sanford, G.R. 2014. Perennial grasslands are essential for long term SOC storage in the Mollisols of the North Central USA. In. Soil Carbon. Hartemink, A.E and K. McSweeney Eds. Springer. pp. 281-288.
Presentations and Lectures
2015 – Present
- Nuffield Farming Scholars: “The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) – 28 years of research in agricultural sustainability” (2017)
- IPM Field Crop Scout Training Class: “Corn growth and development” (2017)
- UW-Madison Agronomy Colloquium “The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial: 26 years of research in agricultural sustainability” (2016)
- GLBRC – All Science Retreat: “Productivity of bioenergy crops on marginal lands”
- IPM Field Crop Scout Training Class: “Corn growth and development” (2016)
- Wisconsin Public Radio – the Larry Meiller Show: “Sustainable Biofuel Research in Wisconsin” (2016)
- Iowa County Grazing Network: “Grasslands, Grazing, and Soil Quality” (2016)
- Biomass and Energy Crops V: Association of Applied Biologists, Brussels, Belgium: “Comparative productivity of maize, switchgrass, miscanthus, poplar, prairie, and other cellulosic bioenergy crops in the North Central US” (2015)
- UW Agronomy/Soils Field Day: “Managing Organic Cropping Systems for Carbon” (2015)
- UW Organic Agriculture Field Day: “The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping System Trial: Productivity, Profitability, and Ecosystem Services” (2015)
- Bethel Lutheran Church – Science Fellowship: “Productivity of alternative biomass crops” (2015)
Abstracts and Posters
- “The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial – 26 years of research in agricultural sustainability”:Valuing long-term sites and experiments for agriculture and ecology, Association of Applied Biologists, New Castle, UK (2015)
- “Productivity of biomass cropping systems in the upper Midwest: yields from Wisconsin and Michigan (2008-2013): Department of Energy GLBRC site review, Madison, WI (2014)
- “Productivity of biomass cropping systems in the upper Midwest: yields from Wisconsin and Michigan (2008-2012): GLBRC sustainability retreat, Hickory Corners, MI (2013)
- “Effect of double crop and dual-use management on biomass production and theoretical ethanol yields of switchgrass in the North Central U.S.A.”, Switchgrass II Conference, Madison, WI (2013)
- “Establishment-phase productivity of biomass cropping systems in the upper Midwest”, American Society of Agronomy, San Antonio, TX (2011)
Professional Positions and Responsibilities
Management of the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST). WICST is a long-term (29 y), large scale (60 ac) cropping systems experiment designed to evaluate the trade-offs of alternative agricultural productions strategies and issues of agricultural sustainability in organic and conventional farming systems. Analysis and publication of data derived from WICST and other bioenergy related cropping systems trials in Wisconsin and Michigan. Development of independent research related to sustainable intensification of agricultural systems with an emphasis on perennialization of annual cropping systems, cover crops, and integrated crop-livestock systems.
Responsible for curriculum development and instruction of two courses covering grain crop production and management and forage production for the UW’s 133 year old short course program. Average enrolment is between 50 and 60 students per course.
Honors, Grants and Fellowships
- UW-GLBRC Critical Compensation Fund award 2013
- Outstanding Staff Award – Department of Agronomy, UW- Madison 2011
- Dwayne A. Rohweder Forage Extension Fellowship – Department of Agronomy, UW-Madison 2007