MAES Announces FY22/23 Rapid Agricultural Response Fund Project Awards

The Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) at the University of Minnesota has awarded approximately $2.31 million from the Rapid Agricultural response Fund (RARF) to 10 research projects that will help protect Minnesota’s agricultural sector from current and emerging threats. 

The projects include work on the updating the University’s Nitrogen fertilizer recommendations, developing toolkits to help fight salmonella, developing best practices regarding avoiding Chronic Wasting Disease prions entering the human food chain via venison processing, and using aerial technologies in combination with cover crops to control herbicide-resistant weeds.

The ten projects were selected after a competitive proposal process. Which included University faculty and industry stakeholders reviewing the proposals and helping guide the selections by participating in the RARF Review Committee. Dean Brian Buhr (CFANS), Beverly Durgan (Extension) and Laura Molgaard (CVM) then approved the final list. 

  • Greenhouse Gas Sampling Approaches for Minnesota Livestock Farms: This work will develop a greenhouse gas measurement approach for livestock farms based on a mass balance of volatile solids and nitrogen. The team theorizes there are farm‐based measurements that can supplement and improve our greenhouse gas emissions estimates. In the process, they will identify production practices with potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from manure.Team Lead: Erin Cortus, (Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering)
  • Reducing mastitis in the dairy cow by increasing the prevalence of beneficial polymorphisms in genes associated with mastitis resistance – RENEWAL: The project team will use unselected Holsteins that represent the 1964 ancestors of contemporary Holsteins to identify polymorphisms that contribute to a robust immune system. Team Lead: Brian Crooker, (Animal Science)
  • Controlled-release nitrogen and split applications to enhance corn production and environmental protection: This project will examine alternatives to traditional Nitrogen (N) fertilizer including controlled release fertilizers, such as polymer-coated urea (PCU), or PCU-urea blends in tandem with application timing management. The team’s in-depth analysis of these alternatives will then be incorporated into the University of Minnesota N guidelines, a tool which is widely used by farmers. Project Lead: Fabian Fernandez, (Soil, Water, and Climate)
  • Prolonging Fertility in Turkey Breeders as a Sustainable Model for Poultry Production-The Role of the Immune System: This works aims to determine the mechanisms leading to the decline in fertility of aging turkey breeders, and if reducing inflammation will reduce this decline. The team hypothesizes that improved fertility will result in more turkeys hatched per hen at a lower cost allowing for fewer hens while conserving local resources. Project Lead: Kahina Ghanem, (Animal Science)
  • Improved Prediction of the Atmospheric Transport and Fate of Dicamba – RENEWAL: The goals of this project are to: 1. Quantify dicamba losses and offsite transport from soybean fields; 2. Examine how meteorology and environmental conditions influence dicamba losses and offsite crop damage; 3. Provide best management practices for dicamba application in Minnesota; 4. Develop a dicamba transport calculator to make informed decisions based on environmental conditions; and 5. Provide a state-of-science report to the MDA regarding dicamba transport and fate in Minnesota. Project Lead: Timothy Griffis, (Soil, Water, and Climate)
  • Autochthonous Bacteriophages for Preharvest Safety of Turkeys-Integrating Salmonella’s Phage Immune Determinants (SaPhIDs) to Phage Therapy Design: This project will in-conduct depth multi-omics analyses on existing turkey samples, specifically studying and integrating Salmonella’s phage resistance, in order to develop robust and next-generation science-powered bacteriophage selection toolkits against Salmonella. Project Lead: Anup Kollanor Johny, (Animal Science)
  • Evaluating biological control for soybean gall midge, a new pest of soybean in Minnesota: This project aims to characterize the impact of natural enemies (predators and parasitic wasps) on populations of soybean gall midge, Resseliella maxima. This knowledge on the biological control of soybean gall midge will be essential for the development of integrated pest management programs for this pest. Project Lead: Robert Koch, (Extension Entomologist, Entomology)
  • Developing best practices for the detection and decontamination of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prions associated with venison processing: The team will work to determine CWD prion burden, and its infectivity, in meat and on meat processing equipment used in venison processing. They will also explore prion decontamination strategies for this processing equipment. Their results will directly inform best practices to reduce or prevent the introduction of CWD prions into the human food chain. Project Leads: Peter Larsen, (Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences) and Davis Seelig, (Veterinary Clinical Sciences)
  • Managing herbicide-resistant weeds using cover crops: This project will evaluate the importance of cover crop seeding rate and termination timing in optimizing biomass production, weed suppression, corn and soybean yields, and profitability. Advanced technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g., drones) will be used to help predict cover crop biomass. Project Lead: Debalin Sarangi, (Agronomy and Plant Genetics)
  • Genetics and Breeding of Bacterial Leaf Streak Resistance (BLS) in Barley–RENEWAL: Building on their previous RARF project, the research team will be focusing on developing malting barley varieties with BLS resistance which, in turn, will allow more profitable and sustainable production of this important agricultural commodity to Minnesota. Project Lead: Brian Steffenson, (Department of Plant Pathology)

RARF Background

The Rapid Agricultural Response Fund dates back to 1998when the Minnesota State Legislature authorized a program and created a fund to enable rapid responses to urgent issues and challenges that have arisen and face Minnesota's agriculture and natural resource-based industries. An initial allocation of $1.5 million was provided for designated projects in 1998, and a recurring allocation of $1 million was created in 1999.

In more recent years, the fund has been increased in support of the University’s Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer program (AGREETT). Annual funding is provided to MAES via the State Legislature with projects being awarded on a two-year cycle

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