Sep 20, 2018
Water grants awarded by NIFA to address critical problems

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded seven grants for research that will provide solutions to critical water problems across the United States. These awards were made through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area. AFRI is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA-NIFA.

“Water is our most precious resource and finding solutions for dealing with water scarcity and quality is critical for communities across the U.S. who grow and raise the food we eat,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “By investing in projects that address a critical problem for American agriculture, we aim to find better tools and technologies for water management practices that make a difference for our farmers, ranchers, and foresters.”

AFRI’s Water for Food Production Systems program focuses on developing new technologies and strategic management tools that solve water quantity and quality, sustainable use and reuse, and farming practices to conserve water. 

Among the grant participants this year, the University of Florida is developing new smart irrigation systems and innovative software and hardware solutions for on-farm water management tools for small farmers to emphasizing water quality and reduce water usage. Another awardee, the Ohio State University, explores public-private partnerships to target the best management practices to improve water quality in agricultural runoffs.

The $34 million in Water for Food Production grants include:

  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, $4,342,280
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $4,867,723
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, $4,838,263
  • University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, $4,917,465
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, $4,990,616
  • Ohio State University, Wooster, Ohio, $4,999,930
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, $4,966,223

More information about these projects is available on the NIFA website.

The long-term goal of the AFRI Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area is to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and availability of safe and nutritious food while significantly reducing water use and preserving water quality. NIFA’s approach will link social, economic, and behavioral sciences with traditional biophysical sciences and engineering to address regional and local watershed issues.

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