15 projects win $130M+ in USDA Sustainable Agricultural Systems grants: the complete winners

October 6, 2021 |

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest up more than $130 million in sustainable agricultural research projects aimed at improving a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system.

This investment is made under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program. This innovative program focuses on a broad base of needed research solutions from addressing labor challenges and promoting land stewardship to correcting climate change impacts in agriculture and critical needs in food and nutrition.

This investment is part the third installment of NIFA grants within its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program designed to improve plant and animal production and sustainability, and human and environmental health. AFRI is the nation’s leading and largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.  These grants are available to eligible colleges, universities and other research organizations.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“USDA is tackling urgent challenges facing American agriculture and communities across our nation. Critical issues like food insecurity, drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention, and market disruption requires investments to help meet these challenges. This is the time for agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to act. Together we can lead the way with investments in science and research and climate-smart solutions that feed and nourish families, improve the profitability and resilience of producers, improve forest health, while creating new income opportunities, and building wealth that stays in rural communities,” said Secretary Vilsack.

“Investments in research projects likes these awarded today will result in long-term improvements in agricultural practices that will benefit consumers, farmers and the environment,” said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. “It takes an inclusive systems approach to tackle these major issues. We are excited to see impacts this research investment will generate for our nation to move us towards solutions that benefit all Americans.”

The Projects

SUSTAINING GROUNDWATER AND IRRIGATED AGRICULTURE IN THE SOUTHWESTERN UNITED STATES UNDER A CHANGING CLIMATE Kisekka, I., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS $10 million

his project supports the mission of the Agricultural Experiment Station by addressing the Hatch Act area(s) of: soil and water conservation and use; sustainable agriculture.The overall goal of this project is to ensure food and nutritional security of the United States (US) by sustaining irrigated agriculture in the Southwest US under changing climate, while addressing the co-benefits for the environment and human health. Major Southwestern aquifer systems including the Central Valley aquifer of California, Central Arizona alluvial aquifer and the Lower Rio Grande basin in New Mexico are experiencing unprecedented overdraft as growers increasingly depend on groundwater because of climate change induced multi-year droughts and heat stress. This interdisciplinary project aims to alleviate groundwater overdraft and sustain irrigated agriculture in the Southwest US by developing climate change adaptation management strategies; integrated modeling, data, and decision support tools for assessing the sustainability of groundwater and irrigated agriculture; and socioeconomics tools for groundwater governance. We will also develop innovative education programs and novel extension programming to support sustainable groundwater and irrigated agricultural systems. This integrated multidisciplinary project is complex with linkages between its different components including system drivers (climate change, regulations, markets), models (geophysical, hydrology, biophysical, socioeconomics), climate change adaptation management strategies (managed aquifer recharge, soil health, desalination of brackish groundwater, water pricing), and system analysis decision support tools. Three interconnected research objectives and corresponding activities are fully integrated with education and extension objectives. By developing management practices that address groundwater sustainability, climate change adaptation management strategies, education and extension programs, this study will have a major impact on food and nutritional security of the US.

SECURING A CLIMATE RESILIENT WATER FUTURE FOR AGRICULTURE AND ECOSYSTEMS THROUGH INNOVATION IN MEASUREMENT, MANAGEMENT, AND MARKETS Viers, J., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, MERCED $10 million

Water scarce regions in the western US neednewmanagement strategiesto face climate change and drought, grow food for the country, and maintainecosystem functions.Population increases, increased frequency and severity of drought, and reliance ondwindlingwater sources for agriculture, environment and communities has resulted in a broken system with limited flexibility. As a potential immediate tool, withcomparatively lowinfrastructurecosts,this project assembles a team of experts from California, New Mexico and Utah toinvestigate water security through management, measurement and markets.Innovativewater marketsoffer flexibility in management, butmarketsdepend ontimely,transparent and accurate wateruse and availabilityinformation and scaled climate data intradinglocationsto enable data-driven decisions and to facilitate participation in novel water managementstrategies, like storing water in banks or recharging underground aquifers. Markets also need to be adapted to the local water laws and cultures.The primary goal of this project is to secure water for a climate resilient future for agricultural production and environmental sustainability.With stakeholder participation at every step, this project creates a new climateresilience andadaptationtool, understanding, and outcomesfor data-drivendecisionmakingamonggrowers and water managers.The team includesexperts in climate and water information,modeling,institutional design, and transdisciplinary research, educationand actionable outreach. The collaboration will bring the findings of these experts together into localized use cases toserve as illustrations ofthe researchas adapted to local conditions and constraints.By coupling hydroeconomic and life-cycleassessmentwith water accounting and regional climate projections, the project goal is to evaluate and enable water trading for climate resilience in agricultural and ecological systems in the Southwestern US.A dashboard for data-driven decision-making will facilitate understanding of the capacity of agricultural and ecological systems to withstand projected climate extremes, especially multi-year droughts, from field to regional scales. Included in the dashboard will be water budget accounting including ET–one of the most difficult water uses to calculate, new climate projections, and groundwater recharge scenarios. Groundwater recharge is also known aswinter irrigation, flood managed aquifer recharge (FMAR) or groundwater infiltration and actsa means of storing surface water in large aquifers underground, a means of adapting to interannual variability of precipitation and a facilitator of trading in some scenarios. Integration of field measurements, hydrological modeling, and hydroeconomics will provide novel insights to complex water management challenges with varied geographic and sociocultural contexts.In order to ensure the information systems are useful,engagement with stakeholders via surveys, workshops and other interactions will lead to new understanding of the institutional design. Experts in economics, law and policy will use literature reviews and stakeholder inputs to identify barriers to entry for diverse stakeholders in various water trading and markets systems, with attention to the information needed to participate.

FOOD SYSTEM RESILIENCY FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTHY LIVING (CHL FOOD SYSTEM) Novotny, R., UNIV OF HAWAII $10 million

Our goal is to use systems dynamics research methods in an integrated approach to develop a CHL Food Systems Model and simulations to identify and test drivers of resiliency in food supply chains for decreasing food wastage and increasing food and nutrition security, healthful dietary patterns, and healthy body size among children, in order to prevent chronic disease in households and communities across the US Affiliated Pacific insular area (Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Am. Samoa) which will be used to guide education and extension programs. Objectives are to 1. Develop and test a System Dynamics stakeholder-driven transdisciplinary multilevel food and nutrition security resiliency model. 2. Provide graduate training to future leaders from the US Affiliated Pacific Region in food and nutrition security model development. 3. Incorporate Model key results and tools into extension and other community programs with online access to simulation tools on the CHL website to guide multilevel systems change.

DESIGNING AGRIVOLTAICS FOR SUSTAINABLY INTENSIFYING FOOD AND ENERGY PRODUCTION Khanna, M., UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS $10 million

Declining cost of photovoltaic technology and rising market and policy incentives for solar energy are making it increasingly profitable to convert cropland to solar farms, leading to a potential conflict with food crops. Agrivoltaics (AVs), the co-located production of solar energy and crops, is an emerging technology that can reduce this competition for land, provide climate-smart solutions to improve land productivity (combined crop and electricity yield), crop water-use efficiency, profitability and economic resilience of agriculture. Deployment of AVs in Asia and Europe is growing and there is increasing interest among farmers in the U.S. However, research on AVs has been limited to isolated experimental studies on a few crops in a few regions. We propose the project for Sustainably Colocating Agricultural and Photovoltaic Electricity Systems (SCAPES) to provide the interdisciplinary scientific knowledge, extension and education for designing sustainable AV technologies for diverse crop species (row crops, forage, and specialty crops) across three biophysically diverse regions in the US: Illinois, Colorado and Arizona. SCAPES will couple state-of-the-art field experiments with farm-scale economic analysis, farmer survey and a systems modelling approach to extrapolate biophysical and economic outcomes across the US to address key knowledge gaps and analyze system-wide effects on markets and climate systems. A diverse team of extension specialists and educators will enable interactive engagement with stakeholders to generate and transfer usable knowledge for decision support, inform research design and educate and inspire future leaders about AVs as a timely and value-added innovative solution to sustainable food and energy production.

#DIVERSECORNBELT: RESILIENT INTENSIFICATION THROUGH DIVERSITY IN MIDWESTERN AGRICULTURE Prokopy, L., PURDUE UNIVERSITY $10 million

For decades, the dominant paradigm in Midwestern agriculture has been the necessity of the corn-soybean rotation; as illustrated by decreased farmer economic optimism, declining rural communities, and degraded environments, this paradigm is no longer working.Our interdisciplinary and cross-organizational team will engage stakeholders across the value chain to generate evidence-based visions and frameworks to diversify the dominant corn-soybean system. The transformed system will be capable of overcoming persistent market and policy barriers to support a transition to resilient intensification and a more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable system.These changes will be enabled byadvancing several dimensions of diversity- at the farm, landscape, and market level while ensuring the needs of diverse people along the value chain are met.Informed by stakeholders through coproduction sessions, visioning, surveys and interviews, the team will advance understanding of environmental costs and benefits of diversified systems through on-farm research and will research economic and social barriers to change along the agricultural value chain (Objective 1). The team will model air, water, and economic outcomes of baseline and diversified systems (Objective 2). Modeling results and scenario development will guide place-based visioning sessions (Objective 3). The team will identify institutional barriers (Objectives 1-3) and generate policy guidance (Objective 4). #DiverseCornBelt’s Extension program will support farm-level actors and markets in transitioning (Objective 5) and will engage the future workforce through educational modules and immersive learning experiences (Objective 6).

REGENERATING AMERICA’S WORKING LANDSCAPES TO ENHANCE NATURAL RESOURCES AND PUBLIC GOODS THROUGH PERENNIAL GROUNDCOVER (PGC) Raman, D. R., IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY $9.99 million

Achieving the AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems program (SAS) goal of transforming the US agricultural system to sustainably increase production by 40% requires large-scale production agriculture, across multiple crops, to profoundly change its bare-soil winter-fallow practices. These conventional practices negatively impact soil health and natural resources conservation – the pillars of agricultural systems sustainability. A scalable solution to this challenge is the implementation of perennial groundcover (PGC) cropping systems, which use an ecologically complementary, permanent, groundcover in fields where annual cash crops are grown. This transformative approach to large-scale agricultural production increases the duration and extent of groundcover on cropland, enhancing resiliency and improving the quality of water, air, and soil. Working closely with farmer, NGO, and industry stakeholders, this project will develop and refine PGC approaches enabling high-yielding row-crop production while improving soil and water quality, providing large increases in the availability of lignocellulosic feedstocks, and preserving or increasing farm income. This project will develop best management practices for growing crops and suppressing weeds with PGC, develop improved crop and groundcover genetics, develop appropriate soil and nutrient management practices, quantify the environmental impacts, and determine the policy and socioeconomic implications of adoption of PGC approaches. Knowledge gained through this project will be used to educate a new generation of undergraduate and graduate students who recognize the opportunities to enhance agriculture by perennial groundcovers. We will provide a multi-pronged extension effort using a combination of hands-on field days, farmer meetings, and online resources to educate practitioners about the opportunities and challenges of the system.

COAST TO COW TO CONSUMER: MARINE ALGAE USE TO ENHANCE MILK PRODUCTION, MITIGATE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, AND RECOVER NUTRIENTS Price, N. N., COLBY COLLEGE $10 million

As the Earth warms and its population grows, pressure is mounting to optimize our food production and decrease its impact on the planet. This newly funded project aims to sustainably intensify U.S. dairy production by developing algae-based feed supplements for cattle. These additives are intended to improve feed efficiencies and milk yields, and can also reduce environmental impacts of dairy production by recapturing nutrients and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Recent research has shown that certain seaweed feed additives reduce a cow’s methane ‘burps’ during digestion, and seaweed production has a lower carbon footprint than that of certain land crops. Microscopic algae can offer similar benefits, and would provide a uniquely scalable solution for states far from the coast. With either approach, algae production for livestock feed additives presents a unique opportunity to facilitate rural prosperity for dairy and algae farmers, and spur economic development from coast to coast.The multi-disciplinary team’s laboratory experiments and field trials to test candidate scalable algae species will be paired with supply chain, economic impact, and life cycle assessments. Our goal is to balance safe, nutritious, value-added milk production with environmental, economic, and social sustainability. This holistic approach will allow the researchers to optimize algal feed additives and assess their impact on animals, farms, communities, and the planet. An integrated outreach and education program will engage dairy producers, aquaculture farmers, feed suppliers, industry stakeholders, students at every academic level, policymakers, and the general public to amplify the research program’s impact.

SUSTAINABLE AQUACULTURE SYSTEMS SUPPORTING ATLANTIC SALMON (SAS2) Zohar, Y., UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND $10 million

The Sustainable Aquaculture Systems Supporting Atlantic Salmon (SAS2) program is a US/global partnership between academia and industry that will use a transdisciplinary, integrative systems-approach to foster the development of transformative, environmentally sustainable and economically feasible Atlantic salmon farming in the US. Currently, 95% of salmon consumed in the US are imported, contributing $3.4B annually to our trade deficit. Current salmon farming practices in floating coastal net-pens cannot expand due to strict environmental regulations. SAS2 combines research, education and extension to address the major challenges to the success of a rapidly emerging innovative and environmentally compatible platform of salmon farming – Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) that are land-based and fully contained. In collaboration with major US RAS producers, leading aquaculture scientists will carry out research focusing on industry-identified impediments to the expansion of this industry, including egg production, ecologically-responsible and efficient feeds, increased water re-use, minimized waste, improved product quality, and economic analyses. Aquaculture educators will develop RAS-related STEM curricula and modules at multiple education levels and focus efforts on the urgent need to develop a trained workforce for the growing industry. Aquaculture extension agents will work with industry to increase public awareness of this new form of farming, engage with local communities, enable efficient technology transfer from academia to industry and ensure fish health and seafood safety. Addressing the sustainable agricultural intensification and value-added innovations goals of the USDA/AFRI/SAS program, SAS2 is expected to improve sustainable US aquaculture and food systems and enhance life for fish farmers and society.

INTEGRATED APPROACHES TO ENHANCE SUSTAINABILITY, RESILIENCY AND ROBUSTNESS IN US AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS Kaplan, D., TUFTS UNIVERSITY $4 million

As the world population increases to 10 billion by 2050, total food and meat production must rise by 70 and 100%, respectively, to satisfy global demand. The US food production system faces several issues in meeting this demand due to limited available agricultural water and land and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing water scarcity in major production regions and increasing vulnerability to disruptions from natural disasters due to climate change are just some of the growing issues that prompt the need for new technologies in meat production. Also, a critical challenge in food supply chains is food loss issues that present significant sustainability and security challenges, with 60 percent of meat becoming processing waste (1.4 billion tons for livestock; 800 million tons for seafood). New sources of sustainable protein would help alleviate these concerns and are the focus of the present proposal. Cultivated meat production is emerging as a feasible solution to address immediate societal problems by developing new sustainable agri-food systems to feed a rapidly growing global population. This industry will provide nutritious and safe foods while reducing environmental impact and resource usage (78-96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 99% less land use, and 82-96% less water use). This project aims to innovate the food supply chain from cell to fork and enhance food sustainability, nutrition, and food security by developing a cell-based meat platform based on the integration of physical, biological, and social sciences. Cultivated-meat production is emerging as an alternative source of sustainable protein to help address nutrition and food safety for consumer choices. The development of cultivated-meat faces many obstacles on an industrial scale: (a) questions related to consumer acceptance, perceptions and expectations; (b) technical sound life cycle and techno-economic analyses; (c) limited access to low-cost media and suitable cell lines impacting scalability; (b) lack of available sustainable biomaterials to achieve nutritious, safe, and organoleptically accurate cultivated-meat; (c) lack of systematic approaches for training the next generation of professionals. Our central hypothesis is that a sustainable, cost-effective, and scalable cultivated-meat platform will increase food availability options for consumers, while decreasing environmental impact. This proposed work aims to develop new adoptable techno-economically viable cultivated-meat systems and develop new educational platforms for training future professionals through specific aims: 1. Evaluate consumer acceptance and consumer willingness-to-pay for cultivated meats, as well as flavor profiles; 2. Analyze the environmental performance of cultivated meat products in the US; 3. Outreach, extension, and educating the next generation of professionals for workforce development; 4. Develop a sustainable pluripotent stem-cell line platform; 5. Develop economically viable serum-free media; 6. Develop sustainable biomaterials scaffolds, and tissue engineering strategies, to support meat quality; 7. Optimize the processes and biomaterials integration to enhance nutritional value, quality, and safety.

SUSTAINABLE AQUACULTURE PRODUCTION OF HIGH OMEGA-3-CONTAINING-FISH USING A NOVEL FEED ADDITIVE (HEMP) Phipps, B. E., Central State University $4 million

The US has a goal of transforming food and agricultural systems to increase American agricultural production by 40% while reducing environmental footprint by 50% by 2050. This project aims to develop a system for producingsustainable, safe, affordable, and accessible sources of high-value, healthy foods- while focusing on and increasing agriculture production in rural, low-income, and underrepresented minority (URM) communities.The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (2020 Committee) reports that 6 in 10 Americans have diet-related chronic conditions- diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, etc. -with 4 in 10 having 2 or more. In 2016, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) cost America $555B and $327B, respectively, with costs expected to more than double by 2035. Lower-income and URM households are disproportionally affected by chronic conditionsand food insecurity, highlighting the importance of targeted research and outreach. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines encourage 2+ servings per week of seafood as a good source of protein and healthy fats (polyunsaturated fats – PUFA). Replacing saturated fats – like those found in meats and full-fat dairy products – with PUFA has been shown to lower risk of CVD, T2D, and some cancers. Increases in seafood intake must be balanced with caution. The FDA and EPA issued joint advice to choose seafood lowest in contaminants or eat less than recommended in the Guidelines. The 2020 Committee also recognized that recommendations to increase seafood consumption have environmental impacts that should be evaluated when developing guidelines. Strategies to increase intake of healthy, safe seafood, while minimizing negative environmental impacts, are critical to slow the rise of chronic disease in the US. Furthermore, targeted outreach is needed for the most vulnerable populations, such as low-income, rural, and URM populations – who often have the least access to local, healthy seafood options.Partneringwith URM populations to increase food sovereignty and local production ofhealthy foods (like aquaculture-produced fish and produce) in their communities can significantly impact URM public health outcomes. Our HBCU-led, multidisciplinary Land-Grant team – partnering 1890 HBCU, 1994 Tribal College, and 1862 Institutions – will investigate hemp as a safe, environmentally friendlyfeed for aquaculture. Increasing aquaculture production of fish – using hemp as a feed ingredient – couldalleviate safety concerns of seafood consumption; increase economic markets and production sustainability for both seafood and hemp, and improve human health. In addition to the hemp feed research,we will be partnering with the Menominee Nation to expand on their desire to increase food sovereigntyby providing financial start-up and training support for new aquaculture producers; providingextension and outreach programs for consumers; and establishing a pilot aquaponics program at College of Menominee Nation (CMN) where Tribal members can learn about aquaculture and participate in fish and produce distributions. The educational partnership between CSU andCMN – established by this project – will allow us to increase Native American diversity in agriculture by developing aquaculturecertificate programs, establishing new aquaculture producers; increasing youth interest in agriculture programs through extension programs; and providing training, mentorship, and scholarships for CMN graduates to complete their agriculture-related bachelor’s degrees at Central State University.

SUSTAINABLY INCORPORATING HEMP BIOBASED ECONOMY INTO WESTERN U.S. REGIONAL RURAL AND TRIBAL LANDS Steiner, J., OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY $10 million

Commodity crops in the USA are industrial-scale systems finely tuned from decades to centuries of market and government influences that work to minimize risk and improve profit margins from producers, suppliers, and financial institutions. As envisioned by Congress in its 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, we ascribe to the potential for hemp. Unlike any other commodity, hemp can serve as the foundational material to the manufacture of multitude of high-performance biobased products to meet the demands of a 21st Century economy. Using an interdisciplinary systems approach, this project will work to identify and link elements of a globally competitive hemp-based supply chain from border-to-border across the Pacific states, equally integrating American Indian tribes and other rural communities. We focus on five key objectives: (i) improve hemp genetics for enhanced agricultural production, handling, processing, and materials utilization; (ii) identify key production ecoregions for these materials and estimate how they can complement existing production systems and their markets; (iii) determine those effects on the capacity to sustainably supply materials for manufacturing; (iv) parameterize existing and needed transportation and infrastructure to determine if, where, and how much hemp materials can be produced and where processing facilities could be located to support the regional manufacture of biobased products; and (v) implement workforce development education to support this new hemp-based sector. We will provide farmers, Tribes and rural economic developers, financiers, policy makers, agency service providers, and regulators the science-based information they need to make decisions when evaluating the technical, economic, environmental, and social sustainability of incorporating a hemp-based economy into the region.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION AND ENHANCEMENT THROUGH THE UTILIZATION OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES Lewis, K., TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY $10 million

The project goal is to intensify agricultural production in an environmentally sustainable way toenhance agronomic, economic, and community resiliency in the Southern Great Plains (SGP) bysuccessfully integrating regenerative agricultural practices to increase C sequestration, reducegreenhouse gas emissions, mitigate climate change impacts, diversify producer income streams,conserve scarce water, provide training on emerging technologies, and enhance rural economies. Inthe TX and OK SGP there has been limited research focused on integrating regenerative practicessuch as livestock grazing, cover cropping, and conservation tillage into cotton/wheat croppingsystems. The proposed research would be the first effort to evaluate a systems approach toregenerative agriculture across TX and OK semi-arid ecoregions. Project investigators believe theproposed research will address multiple long-term goals identified in the SAS Program PriorityArea (A9201), and include: 1) increasing agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainabilityby providing regenerative practice recommendations through education/outreach (LandStewardship; Food/Agricultural Production and Biosecurity); 2) supporting needed changes to cost-share program policies regarding incorporation of livestock into regenerative agricultural systemsinvolving cover crops (Soil Health and Management Practices; Land Stewardship); and, 3)increasing adoption of regenerative practices in the SGP and improve water use efficiency,environmental conditions, and socioeconomic performance (Land Stewardship; Food/AgriculturalProduction and Biosecurity, Soil Health and Management Practices; Water). This project willprovide foundational information to increase agricultural production and profitability of multiplecommodities on a per acre basis while reducingtheenvironmental footprint. Extension andeducation opportunities will be developed and disseminated openly across the SGPsandnationally.

USING SMART FOODSCAPES TO ENHANCE THE SUSTAINABILITY OF WESTERN RANGELANDS Villalba, J. J., UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY $6.8 million

Approximately six million beef calves are produced annually in the western U.S. alone, and ranchers must maintain profitable operations while addressing the growing number of consumers seeking environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable food. In response to these concerns, we propose the development of smart foodscapes as a transformative paradigm for western U.S. beef production. Our hypothesis is that a diversity of deep-rooted perennial legumes and forbs with high nutrient content and the presence of functional biochemicals can be grown and stockpiled in “islands” across the landscape to be used as low-cost supplementation for beef cattle to enhance productivity and biodiversity while reducing environmental impacts. Thus, our long-term goal is to improve the sustainability of beef production through the establishment of islands of multifunctional diversity in rangelands, in line with the NIFA Program Area Priority long term goals of Land Stewardship, Food and Agricultural Production and Agricultural Climate Adaptation. We will screen a wide selection of plants for synergisms that will be tested for their impacts on beef cattle performance, health, nutrient losses to the soil and atmosphere, habitat for pollinators, wildlife, and economic viability (research objectives). Research will be integrated with grazing schools, assessments of adoption, and producer engagement (extension objectives). We will integrate garden-based learning and smart foodscapes into Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics (STEAM) teaching and learning (education objectives), and all objectives into a comprehensive outreach program. This transdisciplinary project will contribute to create more sustainable beef production systems while engaging and educating current and future land stewards.

OPTIMIZING HUMAN HEALTH AND NUTRITION: FROM SOIL TO SOCIETY Murphy, K. P., WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY $10 million

When addressing food security, agricultural science has traditionally focused on increasing grain yield, particularly in carbohydrate-rich crops like wheat and rice, and metrics of global food security have emphasized the availability of calories. Recent studies have concluded that the greatest food security challenge in 2050 will be providing nutritious diets rather than adequate calories. Increased intake of whole grains, grain legumes, and pseudocereals can address these dietary imbalances, improve human health, and increase the sustainability of our diets and the food system. It is critical therefore to build robust linkages between crop, soil, and food scientists working on the development of nutritious varieties and healthy food products with medical scholars rooted in human-health disciplines such as epidemiology, nutrition, and the gut microbiome. Given this need for sustainable healthy diets, the long-term goals of this project are to create more nutritious, affordable, and accessible whole grain-based foods through i) the investigation of the contribution of novel, biofortified crop varieties and food products to human health through clinical and epidemiological evaluations, and ii) the development and deployment of nutritious food products made from improved crop varieties grown within sustainable cropping systems. To develop these food products we will employ a Soil to Society (S2S) pipeline strategy that addresses gaps in current knowledge and traces the flow of nutrients from agricultural systems and food production to human consumption, culminating in the synthesis of more sustainable agricultural management strategies and healthy and affordable food products to meet the needs of diverse individuals and communities.

FOSTERING RESILIENCE AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN LANDSCAPES BY INTEGRATING DIVERSE PERENNIAL CIRCULAR SYSTEMS Picasso Risso, V. D., UNIV OF WISCONSIN $10 million

A landscape transformation from prevailing annual crop systems towards increasing diversity, promoting perennial forages, and integrating livestock has potential to solve several environmental and socioeconomic problems in agriculture, if substantial policy, economic, and social barriers can be addressed. Our vision is to transform the current agricultural landscape through a process of engaging a diverse network of stakeholders and researchers to promote the environmental and socioeconomic benefits that will arise from the adoption of diverse perennial circular forage systems. Our transdisciplinary team will foster climate resilience, ecosystem services, profitability, social inclusion, and human health by identifying and quantifying benefits, as well as incentivizing and promoting diverse perennial circular systems across major US agro-ecoregions. This project contributes to two program area priorities: Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (Resilience) and Agricultural Climate Adaptation (Soil Health). We will quantify resilience (using compiled data from a forage data hub), soil and biodiversity ecosystem services (from field experiments and farms), environmental impacts (life cycle assessment), health impacts, and economic and social value of diverse perennial circular systems in contrast to prevailing systems. A national network of 50 pairs of farmers across the US will be established for research and extension activities including underrepresented groups. We will analyze economic conditions, social structures, and public policies that prevent wider adoption of these systems and develop policy recommendations to overcome these constraints. We will develop on-line decision tools and maps, communicate results to farmers, consumers, lenders, and policy makers, and develop and deliver coordinated educational materials to K-12 and university students.

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