NIFA Update July 18

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           July 18, 2018

Making a Difference

Cherry Tree photo by Washington State University
Healthy cherries not affected by frost damage. Photo provided by WSU.

WSUTest Nanocrystals to Prevent Frost Damage in Tree Fruits

Groundbreaking nanotechnology designed to protect cherries, apples and other popular fruits from frost damage is showing positive results in tests by Washington State University researchers. The research team recently received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop plant-based nanocrystals that coat and protect fruit buds during cold spells. Read the full WSU article.


Breaking Ground for Science

North Carolina A&T break ground on new science pavilion.

NIFA Acting Director Tom Shanower, fourth on the right, on July 11 helped the North Carolina A&T (NCA&T) community break ground on their new College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Extension and Farm Pavilion. The Pavilion will be multi-purpose facility with an auditorium, classrooms, smart-room technology, and an outdoor amphitheater. NIFA 1890s Facilities Program funds is helping make the building possible. Annually, NC A&T receives approximately $1.1 million through the program. The university accumulated facilities funds over multiple years to construct the $6 million pavilion. Read more about the NC A&T ground breaking.

For 35 years, NIFA funds have helps 1890 land-grant universities acquire and improve their agricultural and food science facilities and equipment. The Facilities Program supports the Presidential Executive Order on Historically Black Colleges and Universities by increasing the capacity of 1890 Institutions to provide the highest-quality education. The goals of the 1890s Facilities Program are to:

  • Enhance and strengthen the quality of teaching, research, and extension programs at the 1890 institutions through the use of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and
  • Increase recruitment and retention rates into food and agricultural science programs.

Recent examples of other successful projects at other 1890s includes:


  • Tennessee State University Biotechnology Building for Research and Education
  • Florida A&M University Biological & Agricultural Systems Research Laboratory
  • Alcorn State University’s Environmental Ecology and Natural Resources Center

I-FAST Program to Provide Entrepreneurship NSF I-CORPS training to NIFA grantees


NIFA is announcing the I-FAST prize competition to develop and implement the Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) Program. NIFA partners with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) to provide entrepreneurship training to NIFA grantees under this pilot program. The goals are to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from NIFA supported academic research. Selected I-FAST project teams will participate in the educational programs with NSF's I-Corps Program. Within six months the NIFA-supported teams will learn what it will take to achieve an economic impact with their innovation. The final goal of the I-FAST Competition is to facilitate technology transfer of innovations that can make an impact in the marketplace and the global economy. Contact Scott Dockum or Olivia Moreno at or visit the site for more information. 

News for You

CUSP students selecting the right habitats for monarchs during the Monarchs on the Move Challenge,

Teens Tackle Real-World Agriculture Challenge

Nebraska 4-H is using monarch butterflies to show youth how agriculture can be fun while also having a real-world impact. 

The “Monarchs on the Move Challenge” was part of the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience, an annual interactive event that features a new agricultural topic each year. Youth are challenged to apply critical thinking and science, technology, engineering and mathematical skills to a real-world agriculture challenge. The program reaches 5,000 youth in five states, including 1,800 in Nebraska. Read the full University of Nebraska article.


CUSP students selecting the right habitats for monarchs during the Monarchs on the Move Challenge. (Photo: Lisa Kaslon - Nebraska Extension).

Cover Crop graphic image

The Power of Cover Crops


Cover crops are the tools to keep the soil in please, improve its health, and reduce nutrient pollution from fields. In a review of 98 publications, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program staff and the University of Missouri identified how cover cropping influences soil and nutrient losses from agricultural fields, water infiltration and soil organic matter. SARE's new Cover Crops and Water Quality resource series includes free materials to help educators, farmers and others learn and share how cover crops improve water quality. 


Federal Register graphic

Notice of Intent to Extend and Revise a Currently Approved Information Collection

The Federal Register on July 13 published a notice entitled "Notice of Intent To Extend and Revise a Currently Approved Information Collection." 

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces NIFA's intention to extend and revise a currently approved information collection entitled, “Reporting Requirements for State Plans of Work for Agricultural Research and Extension Formula Funds.” Comment period ends on Sept. 11, 2018.


Award Notifications

NIFA Invests $1.9 Million for Research in Tools and Resources for Animal Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics Research

NIFA recently awarded 6 animal breeding, genetics, and genomics grants to improve the quality of genome sequences, characterization of genes along with their function and control, and analytics for animal selection and breeding. Awards include two projects to improve the collection of traits at the farm level, and application of genome editing in agricultural animal species. These projects will lead to higher efficiency of agricultural animals through precision breeding that will improve productivity and profit. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA invests $4,986,590 Million to Improve Food Safety

NIFA recently awarded 13 food safety grants to support projects aimed at improving food safety, which will ultimately increase confidence in exported and domestically consumed U.S. food products. The cutting-edge research projects aim to detect or control microbial pathogens, allergens, antibiotic residues, and pesticide residues in seafood, produce, poultry, and fermented foods. The projects will also enhance our ability to detect pathogens and contaminants, which will allow for more rapid removal of contaminated foods from the food supply. These projects help increase the confidence in U.S. domestic and exported food products. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $13.3 Million toward improving Agroecosystems Resilience in a Changing Climate

NIFA recently awarded 16 research education and extension grants that will help us plan for and adapt to a changing environment and climate. We need to understand the best way to use and manage our natural resources to sustainably produce food and fiber for a growing population, ensuring prosperity for our producers as climate, environmental, and the socioeconomic conditions change. These projects will help us understand how changing conditions will impact our ability to produce food and fiber into the future and provide tools and strategies to adapt to these changes for a sustainable and resilient agriculture. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $5.4 Million to Advance Food Manufacturing Technologies

NIFA recently awarded eight integrated research, education and extension grants that will advance the nation’s food manufacturing technologies and improve its global competitiveness. Advanced food manufacturing encompasses engineering, processing technologies, packaging, sanitation, high-speed automation, robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and quality/safety inspections. New technologies can streamline logistics, extend shelf life, minimize food waste and loss, and utilize by-products toward better environmental and economic sustainability. Innovative food manufacturing technologies will produce new or improved food products with increased nutrient value, safety, and quality and improve energy and water use efficiency. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $5.5 Million in Small and Medium Sized Farm Research

NIFA recently awarded 12 small and medium sized farm research grants designed to enhance farm income and improve the quality of life of farm communities. These research efforts focus on alternative crop enterprises, marketing, and scaling up fruit and vegetable production to overcome marketing constraints. This research will enhance the economic efficiency and sustainability of small- and medium-sized farms, increasing their viability and competitiveness in local markets. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). 

NIFA Invests $1.95 Million in Animal Well-being Program

NIFA recently awarded six animal well-being grants that advance research to understand how to better assess well-being in agricultural animals, while also identifying and lessening negative effects of stressors on farm animals. Enhancing the overall well-being of farm animals increases profitability and assures consumers that they have abundant, safe, nutritious, and affordable food animal products. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $6 Million to Improve Food Quality and Function


NIFA recently awarded eighteen function and efficacy of nutrients grants to investigate the role of bioactive components of food to prevent inflammation and promote gastrointestinal health. NIFA support enables scientists to investigate the role of whole food and bioactive components to develop innovative approaches and improve access to high-quality, nourishing food that leads to better health. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).