Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is awarding $4.6 million to 13 universities for research to develop ecologically and economically rational strategies for management, control or elimination of weedy or invasive species. Of the amount, Merrigan said that nearly $500,000 is for a University of California, Davis Laboratory.
"Invasive plants and animals are a major threat to food and fiber production, costing U.S. producers between $7 billion and $27 billion per year, but by doing research on controlling and managing weedy and invasive species we help protect the productivity of America's farmers and ranchers," said Merrigan.
Marie Jasieniuk, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, is conducting research to develop economical and environmentally sound strategies for managing invasive weeds and prevent the spread of invasive weeds in agroecosystems that provide tree fruits and nuts as well as wine, table, and raisin grapes. The University of California, Berkeley also received a $494,000 grant for their research into ecologically-based, invasive species management programs.
The awards are administered through the NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Biology of Weedy and Invasive Species in Agroecosystems competitive grants program. AFRI is the primary competitive grant program to provide funding for fundamental and applied research, Extension and education to address food and agricultural sciences.
Funded projects include work at Cornell University to minimize negative impacts of the European cranefly in perennial grass-based agroecosystems. Researchers at the University of Alaska will test the efficiency of activated carbon on large scale soil to restore native species. Scientists at the University of Minnesota will work to mitigate impacts of the invasion of earthworms as an invasive species.
The Fiscal Year 2009 grants are going to:
• Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $494,000
• University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, $494,000
• University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, $149,911
• University of California, Berkeley, Calif., $494,000
• University of California, Davis, Calif., $495,000
• Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $124,962
• Idaho State University, Moscow, Idaho, $199,704
• University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $493,000
• University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $491,000
• Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $454,000
• Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $494,000
• Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $91,423
• Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $125,000