NIFA Update - May 27, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                        May 27, 2020

Making a Difference

The Asian tramp snail, Bradybaena similaris, courtesy of Getty Images.

Tiny Invasive Snail and Latin American Coffee

While conducting fieldwork in Puerto Rico’s central mountainous region in 2016, University of Michigan ecologists noticed tiny trails of bright orange snail excrement on the undersurface of coffee leaves afflicted with coffee leaf rust, the crop’s most economically important pest.

Intrigued, they conducted field observations and laboratory experiments over the next several years and showed that the widespread invasive snail Bradybaena similaris, commonly known as the Asian tramp snail and normally a plant-eater, had shifted its diet to consume the fungal pathogen that causes coffee leaf rust, which has ravaged coffee plantations across Latin America in recent years.

Now the U-M researchers are exploring the possibility that B. similaris and other snails and slugs, which are part of a large class of animals called gastropods, could be used as a biological control to help rein in coffee leaf rust. For more information, read the University of Michigan article.

The study was supported by grants from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Asian Tramp Snail, photo courtesy of Getty Images.


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NIFA Coronavirus FAQs

We have been regularly updating the Frequently Asked Questions document that covers the most commonly asked questions about impacts of the COVID-19 emergency on USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grants. Please check this document frequently for the latest information about the flexibilities we are currently offering.

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A Food Supply Chain Readjustment

The nation's food supply chain is known for its production and efficiency, yet has recently been realigned to ensure supplies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA Radio talks with Secretary Sonny Perdue about how America’s is adjusting to the current situation. For more information, listen the USDA broadcast.

News for You

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New Research Shows When Nebraska’s Groundwater Supplies Recharge

When it rains, and even when it pours and floods like it did in Nebraska in late 2018 and through much of 2019, the precipitation that hits the surface doesn’t always factor in to recharging the state’s vast and vital groundwater supply. In fact, most of the precipitation doesn’t reach those depths.

So, when does it most often happen? A recently published study, led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources PhD candidate Mikaela Cherry, found that winter precipitation reloads most of the state’s groundwater supply. Funding for the research was provided by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Nebraska Environmental Trust. For more information, read the University of Nebraska article.

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Virtual Summit Offered

Due to the current pandemic, many Agriculture in the Classroom national and regional conferences have had to reschedule, cancel, or move online. To continue their educational efforts, the National Agriculture in the Classroom is hosting a Virtual Summit June 24 and 25. In lieu of not having an in-person conference, a selection of elementary, middle school, high school, and volunteer workshops will be offered virtually those dates free-of-charge. For more information, read the Ag in the Classroom article.

NIFA in the News

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Risk Management Education Center Awards Grants

The North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center recently awarded over $650,000 in funding to 15 project directors from universities and non-profit organizations across the north-central region of the U.S. These grants fund outreach that provides extension risk management education programs for producers. The North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center is funded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, read the Ohio Ag Connection article.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $5 Million to Improve Water Quantity and Quality Agricultural Irrigation Systems

NIFA recently announced 12 grant awards in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) - Water Quantity and Quality priority area. AFRI provides funding for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The goal of the Water Quantity and Quality program is to invest in nontraditional water irrigation systems to improve irrigation practices for crops and livestock through research and extension projects for a more sustainable U.S. water agricultural ecosystem. These awards will reduce the freshwater demand for irrigation by substituting for nontraditional water sources, and improve nutrient management for crop production while reducing nutrient load to surface and/or groundwater.

Funding Opportunity

Funding Opportunity for the  Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Funding Opportunity: Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program (RHSE). Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program

The Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants program supports quality of life in rural communities across the United States by addressing the relationship between rural prosperity and rural health; and safety in the context of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences. RHSE program proposals are expected to be community-based outreach education programs, such as those conducted through Human Science extension outreach that provide individuals and families with:

  • Information as to the value of good health at any age
  • Information to increase individual or family’s motivation to take more responsibility for their own health
  • Information regarding rural environmental health issues that directly impact human health
  • Information about and access to health promotion and educational activities
  • Training for volunteers and health services providers concerning health promotion and health care services for individuals and families in cooperation with state, local, and community partners

For more information, read the RHSE funding opportunity.

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