KSU will use unmanned aerial vehicles to assess wheat field trials.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.  — Seven projects seeking to develop new wheat varieties that are adapted to different geographical regions and environmental conditions received $3.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).


The projects are funded through NIFA’s new International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) program, part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

“Wheat delivers a significant amount of daily nutrients for American families and people around the world, “said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA. “As demand for wheat grows with the population, wheat research plays a vital role in meeting that need. These grants help support agricultural researchers developing new wheat varieties with greater yield and help us improve global collaboration on wheat research.”

Grants include:

University of California, Davis, California, U.S., $1,696,000

University of California, Davis, $300,000

University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, U.S., $250,000

Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., $300,000

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S., $300,000

South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, U.S., $300,000

Project details may be found on the NIFA website.

Among the projects announced, scientists from Kansas State University will use the advancing technology of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) outfitted with cutting-edge imaging tools to rapidly assess field trials in wheat breeding programs and use aerial images to gather precise measurements of plant traits relating to yield and health.

Another KSU project will explore the capabilities of gene editing technology to unlock the potential of the complex wheat genome, thereby building a foundation for transformative approaches to wheat improvement that may be deployed in both the public and private sectors.

A consortium of 19 institutions led by the University of California, Davis will train a new generation of 15 plant breeders as well as identify, characterize and deploy wheat genes to increase grain yield. This project builds on prior international, multi-institutional NIFA investments that have had direct positive impacts on wheat breeding.

This is the second year of investments in IWYP to enhance agricultural research that supports the G20 Nations’ Wheat Initiative, benefiting U.S. farmers and consumers as well as the global community. This international partnership includes USDA’s NIFA and the Agricultural Research Service; The U.S. Agency for International Development; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom; Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia; Department of Biotechnology of India; Mexico’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; France’ Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique; and Switzerland’s Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.