NIFA Update May 9

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           May 9, 2018

Making a Difference

Saltmarsh Sparrow nestlings. Photo by Bri Benvenuti (UNH)

Research Finds Saltmarsh Sparrows Support Gender Equality

In birds, females have the ability to control the sex of individual eggs; therefore, a mother may be able to choose whether she prefers each egg laid to be a male or female. This means that offspring sex ratios are not usually left to chance. From an evolutionary standpoint, this can be very beneficial, as different circumstances may favor the success of sons versus daughters.

But when it comes to Saltmarsh Sparrows, researchers with at the University of New Hampshire have found that unlike some other birds, Saltmarsh Sparrows do not appear to manipulate the sex of their offspring based on environmental or maternal conditions as might be expected based on evolutionary theory. Read the full University of New Hampshire (UNH) article.

Photo: Saltmarsh Sparrow nestlings by Bri Benvenuti (UNH)


Amy McCune

Farewell to Amy McCune

Amy McCune, national program leader in NIFA's Division of Youth and 4-H is leaving her position May 11. “I have enjoyed my tenure here and appreciate having had the opportunity to work with you. Thank you for the support and encouragement you have provided me during my time at NIFA,” said McCune. “It's been a pleasure working with you.”  

University of Idaho Clean Water Machine

University of Idaho Clean Water Machine to Air on NBC

The University of Idaho Clean Water Machine Team is competing with other teams for a huge opportunity to solve one of the world's most wicked water problems. Ten teams are competing in the Everglades Foundation George Barley Prize to show the world innovative solutions to the serious water pollution problem of phosphorus. The team's overall goal is the removal and recovery of nutrients from agricultural drainage canals, storm-water, and point sources such as municipal water treatment plants.

An NBC Nightly News feature about the Everglades Foundation George Barley Clean Water Prize competition airs May 13 at 5:30 p.m. (check local listings). The University of Idaho anticipates some air time due to the amount of interview footage NBC took of the Clean Water Machine in action. NIFA resources are a large part of the clean water machine project. Watch the Twitter video

News for You

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How do Water Trends Impact Agriculture

Water rarely cooperates when it comes to growing crops, sometimes you have too much of it, while other times there just isn’t enough. For Amy Garrett in western Oregon, summer months often bring almost no rainfall. In Iowa, Ron Rosmann sees growing seasons with heavy downpours that increase water quality risks associated with lost soil and nutrient-saturated runoff. In this new episode of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education's Our Farms, Our Future Podcast, Garrett, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, and Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, discuss how water trends and patterns impact agriculture in their regions. 


AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems Webinar May 10

New in 2018, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS) program. SAS promotes the sustainable supply of abundant, affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible food and other agricultural products, while enhancing economic opportunities and improving the long-term health and well-being of all Americans. The program requires a Letter of Intent, due June 27, 2018, after which applications are due October 10, 2018.

Approximately $80 million will be available to fund non-renewable grants up to $10 million for fully integrated (including research, education, and extension) Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) and Strengthening CAPs using transdisciplinary approaches.

This webinar is an opportunity to learn more about the SAS program and its application process. The webinar is May 10, 2018 from 2-3 p.m. EDT. If you have questions, contact the AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems Team.

Learn more or join in the AFRI SAS webinar May 10, 2 p.m. EDT