Public Affairs, The California State University

ARI: Advancing Agriculture

by Elizabeth Chapin

Cal Poly Pomona faculty and students take part in a research project facilitated by ARI that aims to develop more nutritious iceberg lettuce.

Through university-industry research partnerships, the CSU’s Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) is finding practical solutions for California’s agriculture and environment issues.

ARI’s current research activities include projects aimed at improving the genetics of beef cattle, examining greenhouse gas emissions associated with pistachio production, developing more nutritious lettuce, and reducing water use in strawberry farming.

ARI brings together agricultural expertise from Chico State, Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo—and affiliate campuses Humboldt State and CSU Monterey Bay, in partnership with other universities, agencies and industry. The combination of these university and industry experts leverages state funding with external resources of at least one to one.

“ARI faculty and students participate in hands-on research that aligns with current industry priorities,” said ARI Executive Director Mark Shelton. “This process engages students in experiential learning and supports faculty scholarship while strengthening California’s agriculture economy.”

Below are four of ARI’s 118 current research projects benefiting the sustainability of California agriculture:


Chico State cattle crossbreeding projectChico State faculty and students are testing a new beef crossbreeding system to improve cattle genetics. Angus and Hereford cattle will be crossbred to improve the health and overall quality of beef cattle.



Fresno State pistachio projectFresno State is teaming up with the pistachio industry to quantify greenhouse gas emission and net energy use associated with pistachio production, processing and distribution. The study will help California lead the way to establishing an industry standard to develop carbon credits, mitigation options and improved management practices.

Cal Poly Pomona lettuce projectCal Poly Pomona is partnering with the National Science Foundation, scientists and the seed industry to develop more nutritious iceberg lettuce using molecular screening techniques. The markers, genetic maps and advanced genetic lines can then be used by other laboratories and the seed industry.


Cal Poly SLO strawberry projectCal Poly San Luis Obispo, in collaboration with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, developed a water-saving method of establishing strawberry plantings, reducing water use and runoff.