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C-CHANGE: Returning value to people and the land through research partnerships

The Consortium for Cultivating Human And Naturally reGenerative Enterprises, or C-CHANGE, began in 2018 as an Iowa State University Presidential Interdisciplinary Research Initiative created to address these challenges. In 2020, C-CHANGE expanded to a multi-institutional consortium including Iowa State University, Penn State University, Roeslein Alternative Energy, FDCE Inc., the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, and partner organizations with a Sustainable Agricultural Systems program grant from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture. C-CHANGE is further funded by grants from the 11th Hour Project, Iowa Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Nutrient Research Center, National Science Foundation, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Renewable Energy Group, USDA Sustainable Agriculture and Education program, and Walton Family Foundation.

Agriculture today feeds more people, more affordably, and more safely than ever before. But agriculture also faces new challenges to delivering abundant, affordable, and safe food. Declining rural population and infrastructure, climate change and extreme flooding, soil loss and degradation, nutrient loss and water quality impairment, pest control and pest resistance, and declining wildlife and pollinator populations compromise the viability of farms, as well as the natural resources we all depend on. At C-CHANGE, we address these challenges through research in smart technologiescoupled systemssocioeconomic innovations, and leadership and engagement.

Smart Technologies

Improve farm productivity, profitability, and stewardship.

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Coupled Systems

Integrate food, energy, water, and natural systems.

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Socioeconomic Innovations

Invest in the long-term care of rural and natural assets

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Leadership and Engagement

Foster diverse participation and partnerships to create value

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What makes C-CHANGE different?

We work across institutions and with farmers, communities, businesses, and other organizations to create practical, science-based, regenerative systems. Regenerative agricultural systems are rooted in agroecological and social foundations, and integrate crop, livestock, and energy production. These systems generate diverse products and services that return more value to people and the land. In addition to producing the traditional agricultural outputs of food, feed, fiber, and feedstocks, regenerative agricultural systems build soil, enhance climate resilience, store carbon, clean water, increase wildlife habitat, and provide sustainable ways of life.

What makes C-CHANGE different?

While the need for traditional scientific approaches and disciplines remain steady, many challenges agriculture faces today cannot be solved in traditional labs, in traditional research plots, or by individual labs representing a singular discipline. A different model of science, technology, and innovation is needed.

C-CHANGE is different in its:

  • Transdisciplinary approach: involving scientist, engineers, and academics from multiple disciplines together with individuals and organizations from beyond the university;
  • Solutions focus: using our skills to help solve the challenges currently faced by people, communities, and businesses; and,
  • Systems orientation: recognizing that the problems agriculture is facing often lie beyond the scale of an individual, farm, or community, and require connections across organizations and sectors to make positive change.
Animated gif showing the relationship of C-CHANGE concepts


C-CHANGE is a growing partnership of organizations led by Iowa State University. Partner organizations are world leaders in agricultural innovation, education, and extension that holds enduring relationships with students and alumni, farmers and their representatives, other universities, and public and private sector organizations. C-CHANGE’s mission and work touches all corners of the university, and improves and extends work through partnerships beyond the university.