USDA Awards Grants to Fight Weedy and Invasive Species

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today awarded eight grants totaling $3.5 million in research for the management, control or elimination of weedy or invasive species.

 “Invasive plants and animals can wreak havoc on agriculture and the environment, with losses estimated at $137 billion per year,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “Research, such as the projects we are awarding today, will help us control these non-native species and help minimize further losses for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

The awards are administered through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Controlling Weedy and Invasive Plants priority area in the Foundational Program. This priority area funds projects that focus on ecological processes that inform management strategies and the evolutionary processes that underlie the spread and mitigation of herbicide resistance traits in weeds and invasive plants.

Funded projects include research at Colorado State University to study unique genetic adaptation of Kochia, one of the plants that are generically called “tumbleweeds,” which has evolved to become herbicide-resistant. Texas A&M University will develop a genetic profile of the noxious weed Cogongrass in order to identify potential biological controls. Scientists at the University of Minnesota will examine potentially invasive biofuel crops and biosafety measures that have been introduced to reduce their spread.

The fiscal year 2012 grants are being awarded to:

  • National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., $35,366
  • University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., $499,678
  • Colorado State University, Manhattan, Kan., $500,000
  • University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $464,634
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $500,000
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, $500,000
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $500,000
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, Ill., $500,000

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

Each award was made through a competitive selection process. An external peer review panel reviewed all proposals and made award decisions based on scientific merit to the best and brightest scientists across the nation.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

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