The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial was the vision of Dr. Joshua Posner. Founded in 1989, WICST was established in response to farmer demand for long-term research about low-input agriculture. Josh and others felt there was an urgent need to address questions of agricultural sustainability in Wisconsin as “honest brokers” investigating both the benefits and limitations of alternative production strategies. From its inception, researchers at WICST explored questions about whether Midwestern agricultural systems were capable of being highly productive and profitable while conserving natural resources and providing ecosystem services such as clean water and healthy soils. To this end, WICST is a large-scale (24 ha), randomized, and replicated experiment on highly productive prairie-derived soils (Mollisols) that evaluates conventional and organic cropping systems found throughout the upper Midwest.
The world has changed over 29 years! There is growing awareness that sustainable, resilient farming systems are necessary to feed a growing population in the face of increasingly extreme weather and diminishing resources. WICST is no longer just an innovative idea and approach to evaluating our current farming systems. WICST is an invaluable resource with which to implement and evaluate novel management strategies intended to help meet our food needs while protecting and improving our the world around us.