UK helps producer renovate hayfield

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

When Anderson County livestock producer Mike Wilson bought a 60-acre hayfield in Franklin County, he knew he had a lot of work in front of him.

The previous owners had let people cut hay for nearly 30 years without putting any nutrients back into the ground, which meant the existing grass stand was a mixture of Kentucky 31 tall fescue and weeds. Continue reading

USDA Announces $2 Million in New Grants for STEM-related Teacher Professional Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $2 million in grants to train high-school educators to improve student outcomes in the food, agriculture, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences. These awards are made through NIFA’s Professional Development Opportunities for Secondary School Teachers (PD-STEP) program, the newest grant offering under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative program.

“Every professional in agricultural research remembers a teacher who inspired them,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Supporting talented educators who want to enhance their students’ learning is one of best ways to ensure our scientific workforce continues to have the skills and preparation needed to meet the demands of the future.” Continue reading

Cornell University scientists sequence genome for whitefly

In Delta Farm Press

A tiny insect that feeds on some 1,000 plant species and transmits more than 300 plant viruses, causing billions of dollars in crop losses each year worldwide, is now about to be subjected to new depths of research that could lead to more effective control.

An international team of researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University has sequenced the genome of the whitefly, termed “a formidable threat to food security.” Continue reading

NIFA Announces $1.85 million for Potato Breeding Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $1.85 million in funding for regional potato breeding research to support the development of superior-performing varieties that can be brought to market as soon as possible. The United States is one of the top potato producers worldwide, and industry sales estimates topped $3.6 billion in 2015.

“Potatoes constitute a significant proportion of our diets, and there’s urgent need to continue to develop varieties with value-added traits, including a nutrient profile that promotes growth and development in children,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA. Continue reading

USDA Announces $8.8 Million Available to Support Agriculture Programs at Hispanic Serving Institutions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture today announced availability of $8.8 million in funding to support agricultural science education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program promotes and strengthens HSI programs that attract, retain, and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation’s food, agricultural, natural resource, and human sciences work force.

“Hispanic students earn only eight percent of the degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering and math,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These investments help Hispanic-Serving Institutions promote STEM education and agricultural industry careers to all their students, including Hispanic students.” Continue reading

USDA Announces $18.9 Million Available to Support Agricultural Education at 1890s Land-grant Institutions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $18.9 million in funding for eligible 1890 land-grant colleges and universities to obtain or improve agricultural and food sciences facilities and equipment. The 1890 Facilities Grant Program helps the eligible institutions educate the future workforce in the food, agricultural and human sciences job sectors.

“This funding signals our ongoing commitment to create future leaders and skilled professionals in the field of agricultural innovation,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “By building adequate facilities we help 1890 land-grant universities and institutions sustain their programs in agriculture, food and human sciences.” Continue reading

USDA Invests $13.6 Million in Citrus Greening Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced four grants totaling more than $13.6 million to combat a scourge on the nation’s citrus industry, citrus greening disease, aka Huanglongbing. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The economic impact of citrus greening disease is measured in the billions,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA investments in research are critical measures to help the citrus industry survive and thrive, and to encourage growers to replant with confidence.”  Continue reading