NIFA Update May 22

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           May 22, 2019

Making a Difference

Areas where weeds were suppressed using black tarps had nearly no weeds six weeks after transplanting cabbage. Photo courtesy of Rich Smith with UNH.

Areas where weeds were suppressed using black tarps had nearly no weeds six weeks after transplanting cabbage. Photo courtesy of Rich Smith with UNH.

New Hampshire Farmers Moving to More Sustainable Agriculture Practices

New Hampshire farmers are increasingly moving to more sustainable farming practices, with those adopting no-till, reduced-till, and cover crop practices dramatically increasing since 2012, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has conducted extensive research on these sustainable agriculture practices and worked to educate Northeast farmers about them.

UNH Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Richard Smith, associate professor of agroecology, has conducted extensive research about these sustainable farming practices at the experiment station’s Woodman Horticultural Research Farm and Kingman Research Farm. “These data are good news for not only farmers, but for the citizens of New Hampshire. Farmers are benefiting from the biological sources of fertility, weed suppression, and soil protection that cover crops provide to their farming systems, and the public benefits from all of the other ancillary effects that come from wider-spread use of cover crops, including cleaner water and a more resilient food supply,” Smith said. Read the full UNH article.

UNH receives support from NIFA, to provide unbiased and objective research concerning diverse aspects of sustainable agriculture and foods, aquaculture, forest management, and related wildlife, natural resources, and rural community topics.



Dr. Meryl C. Broussard

Service Information for Dr. Meryl C. Broussard

Memorial visitations will be held at Money and King Funeral Home located at 171 Maple Ave. W, Vienna, Virginia, May 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. During these hours, guests are welcome to share memories and stories about Meryl.

A Celebration of Life service will be held May 31,  at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church located at 8601 Wolftrap Rd. SE, Vienna, Virginia. Following the service, everyone is welcome to join friends and family for a reception at Sheraton Tysons Hotel located at 8661 Leesburg Pike, Tysons, Virginia.

Dr. C. Meryl Broussard
May 25, 1950 – May 18, 2019

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to one or more of the following organizations:

Dr. Parag Chitnis

Interim Associate Director for Programs


Dr. Parag Chitnis will serve as Associate Director for Programs on an interim basis while we initiate the process to fill this mission critical leadership position. Dr. Chitnis joined NIFA in August 2014 as the Deputy Director of the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability.

Dr. Chitnis worked for the National Science Foundation (NSF) where he served as Division Director, Deputy Division Director, and Program Director. Prior to joining NSF, Dr. Chitnis was a professor at Iowa State University and was an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. Dr. Chitnis has a B.S. in botany/plant breeding from the Konkan Agricultural University in India, an M.S. in genetics/biochemistry from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, and Ph.D. in biology from the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, in Nutley, New Jersey, prior to serving on the staff there as a research associate.

Dr. Chitnis will have full authority of the Associate Director for Programs to make decisions and conduct business for NIFA. We look forward to working with Dr. Chitnis on an interim basis as we move forward and want to thank him for taking on this responsibility.

Thank you,
J. Scott Angle
NIFA Director

webinar graphic YouTube

AFRI Foundational and Applied Sciences 

Tactical Sciences for Agricultural Biosecurity Webinar

NIFA will hold an informational webinar May 30 at 1 p.m. EDT to provide information regarding the AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program’s new cross-cutting priority Tactical Sciences for Agricultural Biosecurity (Program Code A1181) Fiscal Year 2019 Request for Applications. No need to register, just follow the AFRI-TSAB webinar link to join. Call-in number 888-844-9904 and meeting number 968-183-393. Email for more information.

News for You

Dr. Shuyu Liu, photo courtesy of Texas A&M University.

Wild Wheat Relative Genes to Aid in Battle Against Trio of Pests

Wheat curl mite, greenbug, and Hessian fly have long been troublemaker pests for Texas wheat, but a team of Texas A&M University AgriLife Research scientists are ready to go high tech to control them. Dr. Shuyu Liu, AgriLife Research wheat geneticist in Amarillo, Texas, will lead a team to develop hard winter wheat germplasm with resistance to these pests using genes from a wild wheat relative. NIFA funds support the research . Read the full North Texas E-News article.

Dr. Shuyu Liu makes a cross between TAM 114 and a wild wheat relative at the Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University.

Forest tree top image from the University of Tennessee, by T. Johnson.

UT Institute of Agriculture Awarded Nearly $1M to Study Woody Biomass Feedstock Logistics

A team of researchers at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) received a grant for nearly $1 million to determine the key parameters for high-quality, year-round woody biomass feedstock logistics systems for commercialized biorefineries. The study’s goal is to improve the efficiency of the logistics systems of woody biomass feedstock, thereby speeding the pace of commercialized cellulosic biofuel. A NIFA AFRI grant is supporting this research. . Read the full UTIA news article.

University of Tennessee to determine key parameters for woody biomass feedstock logistics systems for a potential commercialized biorefineries that could effectively operate year-round feedstock. Photo courtesy of T. Johnson, UTIA.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $4 Million for Pollinator Health Research

NIFA recently awarded 11 Pollinator Health Research grants for research to sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. Pollinator health projects address the current problem of declining populations of managed and wild pollinators, such as bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and bats. Pollinators play a vital role in the production of healthy crops for food, fiber, and other agricultural uses. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program.

NIFA Invests $5 Million to Improve Food Quality

NIFA recently awarded 15 Improving Food Quality grants designed to improve our knowledge and understanding of the chemical, physical, and biological properties of foods and food ingredients. Our better understanding of the impact of foods and food ingredients in our diet and on the gut microbiome will help human health and well-being. These awards focus on functionality of bio-actives in the gut, physiochemical properties of protein, satiety, saltiness, digestibility and an array of quality aspects of food including shelf life and organoleptic properties. These grants are a part of NIFA’s AFRI program.