NIFA Update - June 24

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                        June 24, 2020

Making a Difference

Pollinators populations are at a critical crossroads. Photo honey bees courtesy of Getty Images.

Pollinators at a Crossroads

Bees and other pollinators, including birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and small mammals, play a critical role in our food production system. A healthy pollinator population is vital to producing marketable commodities. More than 100 U.S. grown crops rely on pollinators. The added revenue to crop production from pollinators is valued at $18 billion. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems needed for clean air, stable soils, and a diverse wildlife. That’s why USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture partners with the Land-Grant University System, U.S. government laboratories, and private and non-profit organizations to support research, education, and extension programs advancing pollinator health. For more information, read the NIFA article.

Pollinators populations are at a critical crossroads. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.


Image of two chickens running across grass; courtesy of Getty Images.

USDA Scientific Research Program Funds Sustainable Agricultural Systems Projects

NIFA recently announced a $90 million investment in research projects seeking to improve the sustainability of the nation’s food supply. The awards will support nine projects at eight institutions addressing issues including animal, human, plant and environmental health. This research investment is the second installment of a new program within NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program. AFRI is the nation’s leading and largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. “In an effort to help American farmers produce nutritious, high-quality products in a way that conserves natural resources and protects the environment, these projects will provide needed research to overcome critical barriers facing the industry,” said NIFA Director Scott Angle. “Investments in research that promotes sustainable systems will result in long-term improvements in agricultural practices that will benefit consumers, farmers, and the environment.” For more information, read the NIFA release.

Image of two chickens running across grass; courtesy of Getty Images.

USDA news radio graphic image

Digitizing Pollinators Makes Data More Widely Accessible

For Pollinator Week, we'll look at how one university is making the pollinators from its extensive insect collection available to the rest of the world. In this week's Agriculture USA, Stephanie Ho looks at the intersection between between insects and digital technology. Stephanie talks with Virginia Tech University’s Associate Professor of Entomology Paul Marek about the university’s insect digital image and preservation services and how they benefit you. Listen to the USDA broadcast.

NIFA flower identifier

NIFA Career Opportunities

We are hiring! Remember to check out NIFA's Career Opportunities webpage, where there is a direct link to all open positions. You can also explore NIFA jobs at  the website. Current openings in Kansas City, Missouri:

Administrative Officer, GS-11 
Closing date: 6/25/2020                   

Budget Analyst, GS 9-12
Closing date: 7/6/2020

Biological/Social Science Specialist (National Program Leader), GS 13-15
Closing date: 9/30/2020

News for You

Principal Investigator Elia Scudiero. Photo courtesy of UC Riverside.

UCR Wins $10 Million to Develop AI for Sustainable Agriculture

The University of California, Riverside, has won a $10 million grant to develop artificial intelligence that will increase the environmental and economic stability of agriculture in the Western U.S. This Sustainable Agricultural Systems grant is one of nine given by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture annually to shape the future of U.S. agriculture toward environmental, economic, and socially sustainable food production. It is the third-largest grant in UCR history. Funds from this grant will establish a Digital Agriculture Fellowship program that will recruit more than 50 students over the next five years. For more information, read the UC Riverside article

Principal Investigator Elia Scudiero. Photo courtesy of UC Riverside.

Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast book cover image

Now Available: Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast

“What could be more important to a farmer than soil erosion and soil quality? High-quality soil is a business asset,” says Georgia farmer Bob Rawlins, who has been no-till farming for 40 years.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education ‘s (SARE) newest book, Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast, explores the importance of conservation tillage and provides in-depth management guidance to help farmers control erosion and build soil quality. The book emphasizes the use of conservation tillage in rotations of agronomic crops and cover crops typical of the Southeast. To download your copy or learn more, read the SARE article.

Award Notifications

Corrected June 25, 2020

NIFA Invests $6.5 Million to Improve Sustainable Agroecosystems: Health, Functions, Processes and Management

NIFA recently announced 15 grant awards in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – Sustainable Agroecosystems: Health, Functions, Processes and Management priority area. AFRI provides funding for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. NIFA addresses resilient agroecosystems responding to climate variability by improving our understanding of the impact of climate on agriculture so that we can develop adaptive management strategies for more efficient and rapid responses in plants, animals and management systems. These 15 projects will lead to substantial improvements in soil health (microbiome, water, nutrients, carbon, chemicals of environmental concern, etc.) and improved ecosystem services in managed natural and agricultural systems by addressing the impacts of changes in management practices on agricultural, forest, grass and rangelands at local and landscape scales.

Tweet of the Week

USDA Pollinator Week proclamation tweet image