feeding the future: planet forward in arizona

in early october 2023, planet forward took 10 talented students from seven schools across the country on a reporting trip to tucson, arizona, where we explored innovations in sustainable agriculture and water conservation. our journey took us from the bayer marana greenhouse to the university of arizona’s biosphere 2 and incorporated engaging conversations with a water resources expert and an indigenous resilience leader.

feeding the future: planet forward in arizona

our first stop in arizona was the bayer marana product development center, where bayer is developing short-stature corn, a plant they’ve bred to use less water, take up less space, and resist the destructive forces of high winds. as the american midwest continues to face drier and drier conditions, bayer is seeking to offer farmers plant varieties that will continue to thrive in an uncertain future.

next up, our students visited biosphere 2 and the university of arizona campus where we toured various projects including a shipping container turned into a vertical farm, an agrovoltaics site where crops are growing underneath solar panels, and the university’s new environment and natural resources 2 building.

the stories that were inspired by this trip will look at the future sources of food and water for millions of americans dependent on reliable agricultural yields, and the quickly draining ground water supplies that quench the thirst of america’s west. despite these challenges, innovations and silver linings offer glimpses of hope.

editor’s note: bayer made this series possible as a sponsor of planet forward and by inviting our group into the bayer marana product development center to learn about short stature corn and speak with their specialists. all editorial content is created independently. we thank bayer for their support of our project.