The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $7.6 million in research grants related to pest control and the management of beneficial species in agriculture. Grants have been awarded for 21 different projects, thanks to funds made available through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program (AFRI).
The research carried out by these projects is expected to lead to more innovative, environmentally-sound strategies for agricultural pest control.
“There continues to be a critical need to develop new ways to defend our crops against pests,” NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy told Growing Produce. “NIFA investments will also help to develop better strategies to foster the beneficial insects and microbes that have potential to combat pests.”
Grant recipients include the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Gordon Research Conferences, and universities across the country. Research topics supported by the grants include bumble bee foraging and colony dynamics, to be carried out in Berkeley, California; impacts of honey phytochemical diversity on honey bee health, to be carried out in Urbana, Illinois; and the effects of plant-associated bacteria on aphid pests, to be carried out at Cornell University.
In addition to these grants, NIFA is also partnering with Ireland and Northern Ireland for collaborative research on pests and beneficial species under the United States – Ireland Research and Development Partnership.
“This pilot partnership seeks to leverage fiscal, physical and intellectual resources to facilitate coordinated research that is mutually relevant in all three countries,” reports Growing Produce.
AFRI is America’s leading competitive grants program for foundational and translational research in food and agricultural sciences. It was established by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill and was re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Past grants from AFRI have been awarded to for research designed to combat childhood obesity, improve rural economies, and address water availability issues, amongst other issues.
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