• The Time is RIPE for Agricultural Innovation

    By Sally Rockey, FFAR Executive Director Greetings from Champaign, Illinois! By now you’ve heard about the groundbreaking RIPE project and its quest to improve photosynthetic efficiency in plants. I had the pleasure of joining co-funders from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and U.K. Department of International Development along with agricultural leaders and USDA representatives to see firsthand where the innovation happens during the RIPE Reinvestment event at the University of Illinois. From left to right: FFAR Board Member Pam Johnson, RIPE Deputy Director Don Ort, FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey, and University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones.   RIPE, or Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, researchers have already redesigned photosynthesis to increase test crop yields by 20 percent. Now, with an additional $45 million investment, the team of University and USDA scientists is working to provide those same yield increases to soybeans, cassava, and cowpeas. Imagine what this could mean in the fight against world hunger. Farmers across the world could produce more food simply by harnessing the power of the sun. There is endless potential in this project to improve human health and increase economic opportunities for farmers.   Johannes Kromdijk, Postdoctoral Researcher for RIPE, explained the rigorous process of studying the photosynthetic process of plants in his lab in the Carl. R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois.   The RIPE team brings together experts from around the world to look at photosynthesis – the process that makes a plant a plant! It’s basic for plant survival, yet it can be very inefficient. By studying plant genetics, RIPE will lead the way in creating crops that will feed the world. Tackling big problems with big science is what FFAR is all about. It was amazing to see how many labs and researchers are involved in this project, not only at University of Illinois but also at partner institutions across the U.S. and overseas – it really is a team effort! I’m excited to see what discoveries they make and how it will change the world. I’m proud to support RIPE researchers and their work toward ending hunger with innovative science.     About the Author Dr. Sally Rockey became the inaugural Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) in September 2015. Prior to this role, Dr. Rockey was a leader in Federal research, overseeing the operations of the extramural programs in both agriculture and biomedicine.  She spent 19 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking on the extramural research program at the National Institutes of Health. As Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Rockey led groundbreaking initiatives and activities that have and will have a lasting positive impact on the research community. Dr. Rockey received her Ph.D. in Entomology from the Ohio State University.


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  • Getting Smarter During Smart Irrigation Month

    Guest Co-Author: Deborah M. Hamlin, CEO, Irrigation Association  Pivot irrigation systems are one…


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  • Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms: New Cover Crop Initiative

    Today, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation announced a $6.6 million initiative to improve soil health through development and adoption of cover…


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  • First FFAR Grantees: Meet the 2016 New Innovators

    Today I am honored to announce the first scientists to receive Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research grants. Our New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award program sought…


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  • FFAR at the Borlaug Dialogue: Celebrating the New NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences

    Greetings from Des Moines, Iowa! By now you’ve heard a lot from me about the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences Established by the Foundation for…


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  • Next Great Frontier in Plant Breeding: Phenomics

    As the first half of 2016 has proved to be the hottest ever recorded, Earth is on track to have yet another…


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  • Phytobiome: Emerging Potential

    A reflection on FFAR’s Phytobiome Convening Event Incredible challenges face the agricultural enterprise today: water…


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  • Honoring & Inspiring Future Breakthroughs: New Prize

    It is with great pride that I announce the new National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences.  With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,…


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  • On Earth Day, Celebrating Science that Sustains our Growing World

      Mankind’s closest relationship with Earth has been through agriculture.  Agriculture is the machinery by which our relationship with Earth is operationalized.  And like other machinery, agriculture must run efficiently,…


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  • Unleashing the Potential of Big Data in Agriculture: Water Use

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research recognizes the critical need to more sustainably manage agricultural water use. I am blogging today, on World Water Day,  to help…


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