corn field
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. —The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded 54 grants totaling more than $17.7 million for plant research that helps optimize crop production, mitigate disease, and increase yield. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Plants are the foundation of diet for both humans and animals,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the NIFA. “It is imperative to invest in research to stay ahead of the biological and environmental constraints, and develop new technologies to produce a secure, nutritious food supply for a growing population.”

The AFRI is the USDA’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The AFRI program area of Plant Health and Production and Plant Products (PHPPP) supports projects on foundational knowledge of agricultural production systems, pests, and beneficial species in agricultural production systems, physiology of agricultural plants, and plant breeding for agricultural production.

NIFA and a multistate consortium led by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, in response to the commodity board provision in the 2014 Farm Bill, are co-funding Iowa State University researchers to study the use of soil nitrate sensors and genotyping to improve yield prediction models for next generation breeders.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs support the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel whose work results in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability, and ensure food safety.

For a complete list of the 2016 fiscal year plant health and production and plant products grants, click here