USDA Awards $3.4 Million for Research to Increase Wheat Yields

Thursday, December 15, 2016
Media contact: Kelly Sprute, 202-720-3137

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the award of $3.4 million for research into the development of new wheat varieties that are adapted to different geographical regions and environmental conditions. The seven projects are funded through NIFA’s new International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) program, part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
 
“Wheat delivers a significant amount of daily nutrients for American families and people around the world, “said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “As demand for wheat grows with the population, wheat research plays a vital role in meeting that need. These grants help support agricultural researchers developing new wheat varieties with greater yield and help us improve global collaboration on wheat research.”
 
Grants announced today include:
 
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $1,696,000
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $300,000
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $250,000
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $300,000
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $300,000
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $300,000
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $300,000
Project details can be found on the NIFA website.
 
Among the projects announced today, scientists from Kansas State University will use the advancing technology of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) outfitted with cutting-edge imaging tools to rapidly assess field trials in wheat breeding programs and use aerial images to gather precise measurements of plant traits relating to yield and health. A consortium of 19 institutions led by the University of California, Davis will train a new generation of 15 plant breeders as well as identify, characterize and deploy wheat genes to increase grain yield. This project builds on prior international, multi-institutional NIFA investments that have had direct positive impacts on wheat breeding.
 
This is the second year of investments in IWYP to enhance agricultural research that supports the G20 Nations’ Wheat Initiative, benefiting U.S. farmers and consumers as well as the global community. This international partnership includes USDA’s NIFA and the Agricultural Research Service; The U.S. Agency for International Development; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom; Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia; Department of Biotechnology of India; Mexico’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; France’ Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique; and Switzerland’s Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
 
Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, AFRI is the nation’s premier peer-reviewed competitive grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences. The Initiative helps build a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences critical for solving current and future societal challenges. AFRI’s six priority areas include plant health, production, and plant products; animal health and production, and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.
 
Since 2009, USDA has invested $19 billion in research both intramural and extramural. During that time, research conducted by USDA scientists has resulted in 883 patent applications filed, 405 patents issued and 1,151 new inventions disclosures covering a wide range of topics and discoveries. To learn more about how USDA supports cutting edge science and innovation, visit the USDA Medium chapter Food and Ag Science Will Shape Our Future.
 
NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative research, education and extension to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability and ensuring food safety.
 
To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.
 
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