USDA awards $9.4 million for safer, more effective pest management

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded $9.4 million to support 25 research and outreach projects that will help mitigate pests, weeds and diseases on farms and in communities. The awards are made through NIFA's Crop Protection and Pest Management Program (CPPM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program which have awarded more than $64.5 million since 2014.

"NIFA is making investments to ensure America's agriculture sector is able to rely on sound scientific approaches to increase production and ensure continued food security in the face of the many challenges including arthropod, weed and disease pests," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "The Crop Protection and Pest Management Program has a history of developing new tools, best management practices and strategies for healthy crop systems while supporting communities with effective, affordable and environmentally sound solutions that reduce potential health risks."

Using a grant, University of Minnesota research team will scout for soybean pests using unmanned aerial vehicles to read light waves reflected off the soybean foliage. A North Carolina State University team will develop practices to improve growth and survival of urban trees. Pennsylvania State University will use a grant to adapt novel nanotube technology to make it possible to diagnose pest infections early and protect crops. Washington State University will develop integrated pest management strategies for the rapidly expanding U.S. hops industry.

NIFA's CPPM and IPM investments are made through several programs. The Applied Research and Development Program Area (ARDP), which invests in high priority pest management projects that encourage adoption and implementation of new IPM technologies. The Promoting IPM in Affordable Housing grant provides IPM technical assistance services and training sessions to public housing authorities and other housing providers. The Methyl Bromide Transition (MBT) program helps to discover and implement practical and environmentally friendly pest management alternatives to transition from this older pesticide. The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) is a nationwide group of diagnostic laboratories that collaborate on early detection, identification and reporting of plant disease pathogens, especially those that may be biosecurity risks.

Project details can be found on the NIFA website.

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