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UW-River Falls assistant professor receives funding from first year of national research initiative

UW-River Falls Assistant Professor Matthew Digman teaches an Intro to Agricultural Engineering course. Photo courtesy of UW-River Falls

Assistant Professor of Agricultural Engineering Matthew Digman, of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, has been awarded a grant as part of the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative. This is the first year of the initiative, which was created by the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance (NAFA) to help drive innovation and profitability in the alfalfa industry. Of the 34 research proposals submitted from across the country, Digman's was one of nine that were selected to receive a portion of the more than $300,000 total awarded.

Professor Digman's research will investigate the impacts of tedding, the process of turning and spreading cut hay to dry or bed, on the economic production of alfalfa silage. Digman will determine the field operating costs and efficiencies of modern tedding practices using computer modeling, field trials, and motion analysis. He will also develop a spreadsheet-based decision tool for producers considering tedding.

Digman, who has experience in agricultural equipment design and testing from his time spent with the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, joined the faculty at UW-River Falls in 2016. The fall of 2016 saw the university welcome the first group of students into its newly formed agricultural engineering program. UW-River Falls strives to promote a culture of student-faculty collaborative research which will continue to be encouraged by Digman's research project. Undergraduate students will perform key roles, gaining hands-on experience in modeling, analysis, and the conducting of fieldwork in forage production systems.

"I'm excited to share my enthusiasm for forage research with my students and I'm pleased that the NAFA has made this investment in UW-River Falls," Digman said.

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