Dr. Angle Begins Term as Director at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today swore in Dr. J. Scott Angle as the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). President Trump appointed Angle for a six-year term at the agency on August 31.

“Dr. Angle has more than 35 years of experience in scientific research and administration, and I am confident that he will move NIFA forward in many ways,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA’s Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. “His academic track record of providing practical solutions to local, regional and national challenges, as well as his globally focused experience, will help NIFA as it supports the science required to help U.S. agriculture and rural communities achieve sustainable economic prosperity.” Continue reading

Epidemic in Turf Management: Herbicide Resistance in Annual Bluegrass

by Patricia McDaniels, University of Tennessee
Annual bluegrass is one of the most common weeds of turfgrass on golf courses, sports fields and sod farms, not to mention residential and commercial lawns. Unfortunately this nemesis of pristine landscapes has also developed resistance to many common herbicides. Researchers with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are participating in a national effort to address what many landscape managers call an epidemic of herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass plaguing managed turf systems.
As part of a $3.2 million, 15-state USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, UTIA turfgrass researcher Jim Brosnan will lead a team of Tennessee weed scientists in sampling annual bluegrass populations across the state. The team will travel the state’s three grand divisions to take samples from golf courses, sports fields, both residential and commercial lawns, as well as sod production farms. The sampled specimens will then be propagated in a controlled laboratory setting and tested for resistance to commonly used herbicides. The goal is to quantify the scope of herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass populations across Tennessee. Additionally, Brosnan’s team will also be developing new diagnostic assays to detect herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass, researching annual bluegrass seed persistence in soil, as well as the effects of turfgrass cultural practices on annual bluegrass infestation.

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USDA Announces Update to National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today the first update since 2013 of the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (PDF, 340 KB).

The update culminates a yearlong review by the Federal Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coordinating Committee (FIPMCC), a joint effort that is coordinated by the Office of Pest Management Policy in the Office of USDA’s Chief Economist with representatives of all federal agencies with responsibilities in IPM research, implementation, or education programs. These agencies include Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), and Department of Defense (DoD).

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NIFA Invests $4.1 Million in IPM Regional Coordination for Crop Protection and Pest Management

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded four Regional Coordination Program Area grants to provide an Integrated Pest Management Center (IPMC) in each region of the United States. IPMCs increase regional and national coordination of integrated pest management research and extension efforts that address priority pest issues impacting agricultural production, natural resources, and urban areas. IPMCs facilitate local and regional collaboration across states and disciplines to promote the development and adoption of integrated pest management practices through information networks, team building, broad-based stakeholder participation, and enhancement seed grants. These awards are a part of NIFA’s Crop Protection and Pest Management Program.

USDA NIFA is asking for feedback in listening sessions

As the primary extramural funding agency within USDA, The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking stakeholder feedback to inform the research, extension and education priorities of NIFA. We are attempting to ensure that we reach a broad spectrum of organizations involved in food and agricultural research and development, market development, or other agricultural organizations that think about food and agricultural customer needs.

Input can be provided in-person at one of the four listening sessions being held across the country, or it can be provided through an online survey through the input form link below.  I have attached informational links also to help you decide how best your organization can engage and share perspectives with us.  I hope you are able to take a few minutes to scan through those links and determine how best your organization can share its input with us.  If it is relatively convenient, I would like to encourage industry stakeholders such as your organization to participate in the in-person session. Continue reading

NIFA Invests $1.8 Million in Methyl Bromide Transition Research and Outreach

USDA NIFA announced four Methyl Bromide Transition awards that will improve the management of major pests impacting U.S. watermelon production, tomato production, the country ham industry, and the wood products industry. The multi-tactic research and extension outcomes from these awards will result in the development of integrated, sustainable and economically viable management strategies targeting major pests impacting these production systems. The Methyl Bromide Transition program seeks to solve significant pest problems in key agricultural production and post-harvest management systems, processing facilities, and transport systems for which methyl bromide has been withdrawn. These grants are part of NIFA’s Methyl Bromide Transition Program, Integrated Activities.

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) – Phase I

Funds may be awarded up to $100,000 for a Phase I project. Proposed Phase I projects should prove the scientific or technical feasibility of the approach or concept. Projects dealing with agriculturally related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all SBIR topic areas. USDA SBIR’s flexible research areas ensure innovative projects consistent with USDA’s vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the land, air, and water. USDA SBIR Program has awarded over 2000 research and development projects since 1983, allowing hundreds of small businesses to explore their technological potential, and providing an incentive to profit from the commercialization of innovative ideas. Visit the Small Business Innovation Research Program page for more information on the SBIR program. Continue reading

NIFA Invests $15.4 Million in Sustainable Agroecosystems: Functions, Processes and Management

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 35 Sustainable Agroecosytems grants that will improve the sustainable management of agro-ecosystems (agricultural, forest and range) while maintaining or improving the supporting natural resources and ecosystem services. The funded research will improve our understanding of the interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes that determine the health and quality of soil, water and air resources, and how these respond to natural and human based changes and management. Other research will provide science-based information that integrates the complex interactions between natural processes and management practices, and that is needed to make decisions to support agricultural production, including bioenergy and biobased product feedstocks, maintain or improve ecosystem services, and avoid critical thresholds of irreversible damage or loss to our natural resource base. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $7 Million to Improve Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 22 Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production grants that will advance development of publicly available cultivars bred to improve the production efficiency, yield, sustainability, resilience, healthfulness, product quality, and value of U.S. agricultural plants while increasing farmer profitability and exports. The awards include both classical and genomics-enabled plant breeding research focused on pre-breeding and germplasm enhancement, cultivar development, selection theory, and applied genetics. Further, NIFA and the National Peanut Board will co-fund three of these awards, taking advantage of a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages these types of public-private research partnerships. More information about NIFA’s commodity boards program is available on the NIFA website. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative EDEN RFA available

The FY 2018 Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative: Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) Request for Application (RFA) is now available. This funding provides for national coordination of EDEN for outreach service to enhance biosecurity of the U.S. agriculture and food system.  You may find this funding opportunity on the NIFA website or Grants.gov. This is a cooperative agreement for approximately $383,000 annually for four years based on the availability of funding and progress reports. The deadline for applications is July 26, 2018. Please share this announcement widely within your networks.    Continue reading