Brian Meyer, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0706
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa — Six projects involving Iowa State University have been awarded nearly $10 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA Secretary Dan Glickman announced the awarding of 86 grants totaling more than $113 million in the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems grant program. Nearly 1,000 proposals were submitted from universities, private institutions and federal laboratories.

The initiative called for multistate, multidisciplinary projects in genomics, biotechnology, food safety and nutrition, new uses for farm products, natural resources, and farm efficiency and profitability.

Iowa State is the lead institution on two grants totaling $1,137,000.

In one project, ISU researchers will study alfalfa genetics, looking for ways to improve the crop's yield and its ability to survive harsh winters. With the improvements, alfalfa could be more profitably used by farmers for hay, silage and pasture. Agronomists Charles Brummer and Ken Moore and USDA collaborator Paul Scott lead the three-year, $549,000 project, and will collaborate with Purdue University scientists. ISU's share of the grant is $365,000.

The other project focuses on identifying genes that control pork quality in commercial swine breeds. The project may open up new ways to select and breed for pigs with improved meat quality. Animal scientists Jack Dekkers, Max Rothschild and Rohan Fernando will work with the University of Illinois on the three-year, $588,000 project. ISU will receive $367,000.

ISU is a collaborator on four grants that total more than $8.8 million:

• ISU will address economic, ethical and social aspects of agricultural biotechnology in a consortium led by South Dakota State University. The four-year, $3.7 million effort includes nine institutions. ISU will play a major role in economics research, bioethics and extension and educational programs. ISU's share of the grant is $907,000.

• ISU will study sustainable swine production in a project to improve small farm profitability in north-central states. Led by the University of Nebraska, the three-year, $2.5 million project will develop new strategies for producing, processing, marketing and distributing products from alternative agricultural ventures. ISU also will conduct an analysis of successful small and mid-sized farms. Another collaborator is Practical Farmers of Iowa, which works with ISU to conduct on-farm research. ISU will receive $95,000, and Practical Farmers of Iowa will receive $199,000.

• ISU will help develop organic crop programs aimed at small and mid-sized farms. Ohio State University leads the four-year, $1.8 million project. ISU and USDA National Soil Tilth Laboratory researchers will compare conventional corn-soybean rotations with rotations of organic crops. ISU also will evaluate strategies for growing fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs. In the project's first year, ISU will receive $376,000.

• ISU will evaluate practices to better manage phosphorus in manure from livestock operations. The University of Delaware leads the three-year, $821,000 project. The University of Maryland and Purdue University also will collaborate. ISU will receive $145,000.



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