USDA/NIFA Invests in Programs to Increase Crop Productivity, Profitability, and Stewardship of Three Crops

Dan Industry News Release

nifaThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced support for research to increase the productivity, profitability, and natural resources stewardship of canola, potato, and alfalfa production systems. The grants are funded through three NIFA programs: Alfalfa and Forage Research, Supplemental and Alternative Crops, and Potato Breeding Research.

“For American farmers to continue to prosper and help feed the world, research serves as an accelerator for discovering innovative ways to increase farm productivity and profitability,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These programs help sustain and expand the acreage and use of alfalfa, potatoes, and canola for long-lasting impacts through collaborations between universities, federal agencies, and industry organizations around the country.”

The Alfalfa and Forage Research Program supports the development of improved alfalfa forage and seed production systems. The Supplemental and Alternative Crops Grants Program supports the development of canola as a viable supplemental and alternative crop in the U.S. The Potato Breeding Research Program supports potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) research programs that focus on varietal development and testing and potato varieties for commercial production. These grants are funded through a competitive process.

The latest grants include an Oklahoma State University (OSU) project that will focus on expanding winter canola production in the southern Great Plains. OSU researchers will use a systems approach that engages farmers and seed handlers through extension and outreach programs across the region. The University of Maine will lead a potato breeding project for the eastern U.S. that focuses on developing attractive, productive, and disease and insect-resistant potato varieties that can be grown by both small and large potato producers. Also, a three-state project led by the University of Georgia will develop decision tools to support forage utilization and stand survival in mixed alfalfa-Bermuda grass pastures in the southeastern U.S.

For fiscal year 2017, the overall grants being announced for each program are listed below.

Alfalfa and Forage Research Program:

  • University of California, Davis, California, $290,000
  • University of California, Davis, California, $253,825
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, $250,000
  • USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, Illinois, $250,000
  • University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, $250,000
  • University of Maryland, Cambridge, Maryland, $290,000
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, $250,000
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, $250,000

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Supplemental and Alternative Crops:

  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $228,647
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, $325,500
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, $212,509

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Potato Breeding Research Program:

  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, $273,235
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $388,000
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $620,160
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, $796,800

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Previously funded projects include a University of Idaho project that is developing herbicide-tolerant canola cultivars that allow Pacific Northwest growers to grow canola in rotation with wheat. A University of California project developed alfalfa water management strategies under drought conditions that limit the amount of irrigation water available, while ensuring the availability of dependable supplies of alfalfa in the region for dairy producers. The Pacific Northwest potato breeding program, led by Washington State University, achieved a milestone with the acceptance of two new French fry varieties by a major restaurant chain. This will greatly increase the acreage of these improved varieties, displacing older, less efficient varieties that require more resources to produce.