High Five: NIFA-Funded Research Improves Agriculture

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in agricultural sciences that turn research into action by taking groundbreaking discoveries from laboratories to farms, communities, and classrooms. Scientific advances that result from NIFA-funded research – more than $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2015 – enhance the competitiveness of American agriculture, ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply, improve the nutrition and health of communities, sustain the environment and natural resources, and bolster the economy. The following blogs are examples of the thousands of NIFA projects that impact the lives of Americans every day.

1) Breeding program brings better, safer corn to South

In Texas, corn is very hard to grow because of drought. It created a stressful environment for the plants they are susceptible to aspergillus flavus, which release aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a toxic ingredient, which is seriously harming for both animals and humans. To overcome this issue, the experts have crossed the temperature corn genes with the tropical corn. The result is very positive since they found the genes, which help the yield in both dryland and irrigated conditions. When they used the genes, they got 15 percent extra bushels per acre.

Ward's Berry Farm

2) Fueling our future, from wood to wing

Environment plays an important role in the growth of plants. Since the jet fuel is disturbing the environment, the airlines are looking for reliable and secure alternatives to reduce the global emissions. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has funded nearly 40 million to Alaska Airlines to use Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance-produced biofuel for their jets. Alaska Airlines is supposed to use 1000 gallons of this fuel in 2016.

3) Nothing fishy about probiotics

After spending fifteen years to find a way through salmon and trout can survive from a devastating disease, the scientists have got the answer inside the fish itself. The researchers have discovered a bacteria from the fish’s gut, which helps in the growth of the organism that causes Coldwater Disease. This disease is found to kill nearly one-third of infected hatchery stock. Furthermore, this research shows that probiotics can help in reducing the usage of antibiotics, which is economical for the aquaculture industry.


4) The new wave of wheat: Increasing resistant starch to improve health benefits

Carbohydrates present a problem for many who struggle with health issues brought on by obesity. With this in mind, researchers are introducing changes into durum wheat genes that can increase resistant starch content by more than 750%. Resistant starch is an important component of dietary fiber with many health benefits, including reduced blood glucose and insulin levels, an increased sensation of feeling full after a meal, lower cholesterol, and improved gastrointestinal health.

Brittany Hazard, a University of California-Davis doctoral student collecting samples from a wheat field
Brittany Hazard, a University of California-Davis doctoral student working on wheat and resistant starch research, collects samples from a wheat field for analysis at the UC Davis’ Dubcovsky Lab.


5) Improving the safety of leafy greens

Researchers have discovered natural methods to sanitize leafy greens using ingredients commonly found in the kitchen, such as oregano, cinnamon, and vinegar. Benefits of using plant antimicrobials and organic sanitizers are that they are natural, environmentally friendly, and less energy intensive since they are effective at both room and cold temperatures. The wash water containing plant compounds and organic sanitizers can also be recycled and reused without a loss in effectiveness.

Read original article here: http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/12/29/high-five-nifa-funded-research-improves-agriculture/

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