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Research Grants Drilldown: Conventional Breeding and Climate Adaptation

April 13, 2010


This is the third in a series of articles drilling down into some sections of the six Request for Applications (RFAs) recently released by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the 2010 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).  Check out the second post about Integrated Projects on Local and Regional Food Systems.    Over the course of this week, keep an eye out for more information on other opportunities in research on organic agriculture and food safety.

The 2010 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) includes an RFA on climate change research, a research area that sustainable and organic agricultural systems have much to contribute to.  The RFA also includes a program targeted to supporting conventional breeding techniques to develop climate-adapted varieties.

The overarching goal of the RFA is to reduce use of energy, nitrogen, fertilizer, and water by ten percent and increase carbon sequestration by fifteen percent by the year 2030.  While this goal focuses on mitigation, most of the programs in the RFA focus on strategies for climate change adaptation.

The National Cereal Germplasm Phenotyping Program will award up to two grants in 2010 for Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP) of up to five million dollars per year for up to five years.  The projects must include research and education components and should provide new knowledge and tools for conventional breeders to use the nation’s cereal germplasm efficiently and design new varieties adapted to changing climates.

Specifically, applicants are expected to phenotype the collections of the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and advanced germplasm in public breeding programs to understand genetic traits that confer resistance to temperature extremes, drought (water-use efficiency), pests, diseases, or invasive species through classical breeding and other appropriate approaches.

Ultimately, these projects are expected to lay the foundation for a national strategy for U.S. cereal crops (e.g., corn, barley, wheat, rice, and oats).

The program also has limited funds for Conference Grants (up to $50,000 for one year) and Food and Agriculture Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants which include Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships, New Investigators, and Strengthening Grants.

The Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Agriculture Program will award up to 13 grants for Research, Education, Extension, or Integrated projects in 2010.  Project budgets can go up to one million dollars per year for a period of up to five years.

The program is relatively open-ended and provides an opportunity for sustainable agriculture researchers to submit proposals on areas such as carbon sequestration under conditions of changing land-use or the impact of mitigation strategies on small and medium-sized farms.

Projects should address the mitigation, adaptation, education, and outreach goals for the following plant and animal production systems:

  • Cropping systems: cereal production systems (e.g., corn, barley, wheat, rice, oats)
  • Animal systems: swine or poultry production systems
  • Forest systems: southern conifers

Each type of grant – Research, Education, and Extension – has a list of specific priority areas, which are listed in their entirety in the full RFA.

Both of the Cereal Germplasm and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programs will prioritize applications that can reduce the breeding cycle time and most quickly develop new plant lines, varieties, or cultivars adapted to anticipated future conditions.

Letters of Intent for the National Cereal Germplasm Phenotyping Program are due on May 7, 2010 and applications are due July 17, 2010. For more information, contact Dr. Ed Kaleikau, 202-401-1931 or ekaleikau@nifa.usda.gov.

Letters of Intent for the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Agriculture are due  April 30, 2010 and Full Proposals are due on July 2, 2010. For more information, contact Dr. Ray Knighton, 202-401-6417 or rknighton@nifa.usda.gov.

Access the full RFA.

AFRI programs are currently seeking qualified experts to serve on review panels. If you do not plan to apply for a grant in either of these programs in 2010, consider serving on a review panel.


Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Research, Education & Extension


One response to “Research Grants Drilldown: Conventional Breeding and Climate Adaptation”

  1. Kim Leval says:

    Thank you for providing this information! NCAP is interested in working on policies that strengthen alternatives to pesticides and with climate change more pest pressures will arise – leading to more push to use pesticides as the solution. We want to see more research and development going to alternatives and to support sustainable and organic practices. Thanks! Kim

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