• Innovative Consortium Reduces Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste

    WASHINGTON and AMES, IOWA (April 17, 2019) – Food loss and waste is a global problem that negatively impacts the bottom line of businesses and farmers, wastes limited resources and damages the environment. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), The Rockefeller Foundation and Iowa State University today launched the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction at the 2019 Iowa International Outreach Symposium. Through this consortium,  thought leaders and experts from across the globe will work in tandem with industry and nonprofit organizations to address social, economic and environmental impacts from food loss and waste. “Feeding a growing global population demands innovation at all levels — from planting to processing to consumption. This consortium will help farmers across the globe use technology to continue using resources efficiently,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “Optimizing food production practices is critical for ensuring that farmers are profitable, food is plentiful and accessible, and the environment is preserved.” Due to the volume of food that is moved globally, food loss and waste affects producers, manufacturers, distributors and end-users. More than 40 percent of fruits and vegetables in developing regions spoil before they can be consumed. These goods include mangoes, avocadoes, pineapples, cocoa, and bananas, many of which are exported to the United States. This loss negatively impacts the bottom line for farmers, who are not compensated for their products. Consumers then don’t have access to these popular foods. Additionally, food waste forces farmers to use precious natural resources producing food that either never makes it to the supermarket or is otherwise thrown out by consumers due to quality issues, creating a significant drain on environmental resources. In 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation launched the YieldWise Initiative aimed at reducing both food loss in developing nations like Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, and food waste in developed markets like the United States. In sub-Saharan Africa, YieldWise provides farmers with access to segmented markets, technologies and solutions that curb preventable crop loss and facilitates training that helps them solidify buyer agreements with markets in African communities. “To nourish, sustainably, nearly 10 billion people by 2050, we must implement a menu of solutions that simultaneously shift diets toward plant-based foods, close the yield gap, and reduce food loss and waste,” said Rafael Flor, Director, Food, The Rockefeller Foundation. “This is paramount to meeting both the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12. Failing to reduce food loss and waste will make the challenge of achieving a sustainable food future significantly more difficult.” Food loss and waste highlights the inefficiencies in our food system. According to the FAO[1], nearly 1.3 billion tons of food—costing roughly $940 billion—are either lost or wasted yearly, generating about 8 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Food is lost more at the consumption stage in higher-income countries, while more food is lost at handling and storage stages in lower-income regions. This consortium will work collaboratively to develop a scalable approach for adoption of the YieldWise model and provide farmers with cost-effective strategies and technologies that link their crop supply to the market demand. This will allow farmers to gain more value from their crops and become more profitable, while also stimulating local economic growth and improving the resiliency of rural communities. “Our consortium approach will build academic and entrepreneurial capacity of the next generation by engaging researchers and students in multi-national, multi-disciplinary teams in the project identification, planning, and execution phases together with professionals from the private and public sectors,” said Dirk Maier, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University and the consortium director. FFAR is contributing $2.78 million for this three-year project, which partner organizations from around the world are matching for a $5.56 million project budget. Participating institutions include The Rockefeller Foundation, Iowa State University, USA; University of Maryland, USA; Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands; Zamorano University, Honduras; University of São Paulo, Brazil; Stellenbosch University, South Africa; University of Nairobi, Kenya; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; and the Volcani Center, Israel. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Colleen Klemczewski, 202-204-2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org About The Rockefeller FoundationThe Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, the Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. [1] FAO. 2015. Food wastage footprint & climate change.  Rome: UN FAO.


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  • FFAR Grant Helps Heat-Stressed Dairy Cows Weather Increasing Temperatures

    ITHACA and WASHINGTON (April 11, 2019) – Heat-stressed dairy cows cost the American dairy industry an alarming $1.5 billion annually. With temperatures expected to rise, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $736,392 Seeding Solutions Grant to Cornell University to improve dairy cows’ ability to withstand extreme heat. The FFAR grant is matched with funding from AB Vista, Adisseo, Balchem Corporation, Berg + Schmidt, Elanco, Phibro Animal Health, and Vetagro S.p.A. for a total $1.47 million investment. The demand for dairy products and milk globally is expected to increase 57 percent by 2050. Rising temperatures will further compromise the American dairy industry in meeting future demand. Dairy cows are unable to efficiently produce milk when their body temperatures rise above normal, a condition known as hyperthermia-induced heat stress. Heat-stressed dairy cows also have reduced fertility, are more likely to develop infectious and metabolic diseases, and may succumb to premature death. According to Dr. Joseph McFadden, Assistant Professor of Cattle Biology and Principal Investigator at Cornell University, “Climate change and extreme heat represent key barriers for the sustainable production of milk that meets consumer expectations for quality as well as the rising global demand for dairy foods. We must act now to develop innovative solutions that revolutionize how we feed heat-stressed cows to ensure optimum animal health and welfare while achieving gains in efficient milk production.” Heat stress in cattle is linked to a condition commonly called leaky gut. Specifically, hyperthermia can lead to bacterial endotoxins leaking from the gut, which causes liver inflammation. In response, the cow’s body pulls resources from producing milk to preserve health. Researchers will start by understanding the relationship between dairy cattle’s gut health, intestinal permeability, liver health, immunity and milk production. Working with industry, McFadden’s team will determine whether heat-stressed dairy cows can recover if fed specific remedies. Ultimately, this project aims to identify nutrition-based solutions that improves dairy cows’ ability to adapt to extreme heat. “Heat stress is an urgent animal health and welfare concern, and it also creates additional pressures for the nation’s dairy farmers,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “FFAR is optimistic that Cornell’s research can improve the health of dairy cows, increase efficient milk production and help American dairy farmers protect their livestock.” FFAR’s Seeding Solutions Grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Cornell’s research furthers FFAR’s 2018 Protein Challenge Area, now the Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area. The work in this Challenge Area supports sustainable animal systems through innovative technologies, environmentally sound production practices, and advancements in animal health and welfare. This research project has the potential to not only meet FFAR’s goals, but also develop solutions that can improve the America dairy industry. McFadden’s team will further partner with industry collaborators to reduce the use of limited natural resources and drive down dairy production costs in support of a more sustainable and economically viable American dairy industry. The consortium of allied industry partners that committed support demonstrates the urgent need for new strategies to improve gut and liver health in heat-stressed cows. Their involvement is essential to ensure translation of discoveries into practical on-farm dairy nutrition strategies that improve heat stress resilience in cows. McFadden will work with each sponsor and the Cornell PRO-DAIRY program to disseminate knowledge in an annual editorial series called “Beat the Heat: Dairy Nutrition Strategies for Optimum Cow Health” that will be shared with thousands of American dairy farmers. “The American dairy industry is a leading domestic and international supplier of dairy. This translational research program in collaboration with industry has the potential to revolutionize dairy cattle nutrition to ensure that our American dairy farmers will continue to produce a high- quality food. Global population growth and climate change are real challenges and we aim to develop real solutions,” said McFadden. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a pioneer of purpose-driven science and home to Cornell University’s second largest population of students, faculty and staff. We work across disciplines to tackle the challenges of our time through world-renowned research, education and outreach. The questions we probe and the answers we seek focus on three overlapping concerns: natural and human systems; food, energy and environmental resources; and social, physical and economic well-being. Connect: @CornellCALS


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  • FFAR Awards $1 Million Grant to Reduce Food Insecurity

    WASHINGTON and CHICAGO (April 09, 2019) – Millions of Americans struggle with food insecurity. To help food assistance agencies provide consistent access to nutritious food, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions Grant to Feeding America. This grant will evaluate the Regional Produce Cooperative model’s effectiveness in reducing food insecurity. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from Target, the University of Illinois, the Rachel Ray Foundation and Feeding America for a total $2 million investment. “We are very excited about our new partnership with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research,” says Matt Knott, President of Feeding America. “This grant opportunity directly aligns with Feeding America’s strategy to increase access to nutritious food and reduce food insecurity through innovative distribution models which expand access to fresh produce in an effort to improve nutrition and support better health outcomes for people facing hunger.” Feeding America established Regional Produce Cooperatives in 2017 to direct a greater variety of produce to food banks at a lower cost. Currently, seven Regional Produce Cooperatives are operating nationally, and there is a growing demand for more. While the cooperatives have the potential to improve the quantity, variety and quality of food at food banks, Feeding America has not yet conducted rigorous evaluations to determine the program’s overall effectiveness. FFAR’s grant will help Feeding America examine the effect of the Regional Produce Cooperative on the charitable food system. The research will use surveys and data analysis to determine the extent to which the Cooperatives decrease food waste, shorten the time between source and distribution, and increase access to produce. Ultimately, the goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of Regional Produce Cooperatives to increase consumption of nutritious produce and decrease food insecurity. “FFAR’s work aims to provide everyone access to nutritious food. Too many suffer from food insecurity nationwide,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This research has the potential to deliver significant, real-world results that will positively impact the lives of those struggling to put dinner on the table.” FFAR’s Seeding Solutions Grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address pressing food and agriculture issues and further research in one of FFAR’s Challenge Areas. Feeding America’s research furthers FFAR’s 2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area, now the Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge area, which supports reducing food and nutritional insecurity in a broad socioeconomic and environmental context. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Colleen Klemczewski, 202.204.2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) Consortium to Revolutionize Agriculture

    First-of-its-Kind Consortium Develops Crops Intended for Indoor Agriculture WASHINGTON (April 2, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is launching the Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) Consortium, a public-private partnership that transcends the bounds of traditional agriculture to develop flavorful, nutritious crops specially intended for indoor agriculture. Sustainably feeding a growing global population requires researchers to examine innovative food production approaches. One approach gaining traction is controlled environment agriculture (CEA), also known as indoor agriculture. Worldwide, interest in indoor agriculture is booming. Yet, CEA research largely focuses on design elements for the indoor systems, such as vertical productions facilities and lighting, not the plants themselves. “The majority of the crops grown indoors have been developed over thousands of years for outdoor production,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “While understanding the indoor system’s design elements is important, PIP seeks to understand which environmental and genetic factors help crops thrive indoors.” The PIP collaborative convenes a diverse array of participants representing aspects of the indoor agriculture industry. The collaborative pools resources to fund joint research that produces nutritious, flavorful crops that can grow anywhere, year-round, profitably. PIP’s research will explore increasing nutrient content and yields, growing crops with less energy and understanding how crops perform best in CEAs. “Do you remember the taste of tomatoes from your childhood? If you’re like me, every summer you complain that commercial tomatoes today are not the same. Commercial tomatoes are abundant, shelf-stable and disease resistance – but not perceived as tasty as they once were,” noted John Reich, FFAR Scientific Program Director. “However, PIP’s research could produce a tomato plant that grows quickly indoors, tastes great and is highly nutritious. This plant would require less energy to grow indoors, potentially increasing affordability, and could be grown anywhere regardless of environmental constraints.” With a growing population, shifts in consumer demand for healthier, tastier food and challenges arising from a changing climate, producing crops indoors can mitigate these challenges and meet demand. CEA is successfully growing lettuce and other leafy greens profitably. PIP’s research seeks to make CEA an option for growing a variety of crops, including leafy greens and herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries. Initial PIP projects will focus on improving nutritional content and changing the size and shape of the plant. This research has implications for a wide variety of agricultural environments, including outdoor agriculture and space. For farmers planning outdoors, PIP’s research has the potential to reduce strain on the environment, make crops more resilient to stresses, bolster food and nutritional security and shorten the supply chain for producers. The research is also useful for government agencies and corporations interested in growing food in space for long-term space exploration. FFAR is investing $7.5 million in PIP, and with matching funds from participants, the consortium will invest a minimum of $15 million to develop flavorful, nutritious crops for indoor agriculture. PIP’s participants represent world-class indoor growers, breeders, genetics companies and agricultural equipment leaders, including AeroFarms, BASF, Benson Hill Biosystems, Fluence Bioengineering, Intrexon, Japan Plant Factory Association and Priva. ### About the Precision Indoor Plants Consortium Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) is a public-private partnership created by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to produce new flavorful, nutritious crops specially intended for indoor agriculture. By focusing on innovative science and technology, the consortium’s research efforts will increase our ability to produce crops that are high-value, of consistent quality, and desired by consumers. Ultimately, PIP can help food producers grow flavorful, nutritious food indoors. FFAR’s initial $7.5 million investment is matched by the PIP participants for a total investment of $15 million to develop flavorful, nutritious crops for indoor agriculture. PIP’s participants include AeroFarms, BASF, Benson Hill Biosystems, Fluence Bioengineering, Intrexon, Japan Plant Factory Association and Priva.


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  • FFAR Announces $4M Animal Welfare Technology Research Initiative, In Partnership With McDonald’s

     SMART Broiler Initiative Harnesses Technology to Improve Poultry Welfare Assessments WASHINGTON (April 2, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announces the launch of the SMART Broiler, a research initiative offering $4 million for research supporting the development and commercialization of automated monitoring tools that quantitatively assess key animal welfare indicators in broiler chickens. FFAR is excited to partner with McDonald’s Corporation as a cofounder on this initiative. The SMART Broiler program is now accepting applications to improve animal welfare. Existing methods for assessing animal welfare rely on human observation and subjective scoring. This initiative aims to identify technology solutions to provide objective and comprehensive information about broiler welfare across the supply chain. “FFAR is committed to improving animal welfare. Developing monitoring tools is critical to understanding and improving animal welfare across the broiler industry,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The SMART Broiler program will not only improve the accuracy of welfare assessments, but also enhance producer efficiency and profitability.” The SMART Broiler program will develop tools to quantitatively assess and collect information regarding key welfare indicators such as walking ability and behavior. The Sensors, Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technologies (SMART) developed during this initiative will be tested in McDonald’s suppliers’ commercial broiler facilities, encouraging their adoption on a wide scale. These tools have the potential to improve welfare for 9 billion birds annually in the U.S. and over 20 billion worldwide. “This work builds on our decades-long commitment and progress on animal welfare. We are excited to partner with FFAR to identify innovative, scalable technology solutions that will allow our supply chain to monitor animals’ behavior and welfare across diverse, global supply chains at commercial scale and ultimately help drive improved welfare outcomes,” Keith Kenny, Vice President of Global Sustainability, McDonald’s. “FFAR is pleased to partner with McDonald’s to develop tools that improve animal welfare. Testing these tools with one of the largest food companies has the potential to make considerable impact industry wide,” noted FFAR Scientific Program Director, Tim Kurt. SMART Broiler grants will be awarded in two phases to multiple, cross-disciplinary teams. The research objective is to rapidly develop the hardware components, data management and analytics necessary to assess broiler chicken welfare on the farm. The initial funding phase will award a maximum of four grants, each receiving up to $500,000. SMART Broiler phase I is currently accepting pre-proposals until May 29, 2019. The SMART Broiler website includes information about applying for these grants. During the second research phase, those awardees whose technology solutions demonstrated promise and delivered value will receive up to $1,000,000 in additional funding to continue to refine and validate their technologies. The end goal of the program is to develop commercially-feasible tools that can deployed worldwide. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking


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  • FFAR Grant Improves Soil Health and Increases Farm Sustainability

    AMES and WASHINGTON (April 1, 2019) – Midwestern farms produce a quarter of the world’s corn and soybeans, yet this bounty drains nutrients from the soil, reducing future yields. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $746,204 Seeding Solutions Grant to Iowa State University to improve soil health through prairie strips. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from Iowa State University, Roeslein Alternative Energy, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and the Walton Family Foundation for a total $1.49 million investment. Corn and soybean crops are crucial to supplying affordable and nutritious food. However, the nutrient depletion caused by corn and soybean production reduce future yields, which undermines long-term farm sustainability and profitability. In fact, soil erosion costs the agriculture industry about $44 billion annually and increases production costs by about 25 percent each year. Dr. Cruse’s research aims to restore soil health by identifying how to integrate practices that provide continuous living cover on corn and soybean fields, including prairie strips and cover crops. Such practices ensure the presence of live roots in the ground throughout the entire year, which can stabilize soils, enhance soil health and improve farm-level economics. “Prairie strips have been discussed in research circles for a decade,” said Dr. Richard Cruse, a professor in the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University and Director of the Iowa Water Center. “We’re looking at the environmental and economic impact of prairie strips over time.” Farmers have expressed interest in prairie strips and cover crops; however, knowledge gaps and perceived obstacles stymie the widespread adoption of these practices. Not only will this grant identify the most effective practices, but the grant also aims to tackle barriers that prevent farmers from adopting these practices. “Prairie strips haven’t been adopted as quickly as some other management practices,” said Cruse. “We want to look at possible obstacles to implementation, like the flexibility of converting strips back into farm ground and changes that impact soil health as well as economic factors. For a farmer to make a change it has to either be net positive or neutral at the very least.” Farmers need more information about impacts on soil erosion, changes in soil properties, and the yield and financial benefits of improving soil health. Cruse’s team will develop a model to inform the integration of soil management practices, while simultaneously maintaining current cropping systems; their goal is to help farmers limit soil loss and improve soil health. “This research project has the potential to advance soil management practices that protect farm lands for generations to come, and help ensure that these farms remain profitable,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The added benefit of this Seeding Solutions Grant is that it determines the best solution for our Midwestern corn and soybean farmers and helps them easily adopt these practices, so their farms can continue to thrive.” FFAR’s Seeding Solutions grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Iowa State’s research furthers FFAR’s 2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area, now the Soil Health Challenge Area, which enriches soil by building knowledge, fueling innovation and enabling the adoption of soil management practices. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Colleen Klemczewski, 202.204.2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR Awards Grant to Enhance Soil Practices in Almond Orchards

     Patrick Brown, UC Davis, examining almond trees as part of a new research project to increase field recycling of nutrients and improve soil health. (photo Pedro Lima/UC Davis)DAVIS and WASHINGTON (March 28, 2019) – More than 80 percent of the world’s almonds are produced in California, and this industry contributes $21 billion to the state’s economy. In recognition of the need to develop more resilient almond orchards, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $225,000 Seeding Solutions Grant to the University of California, Davis, to improve soil health in almond orchards. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the Almond Board of California and almond growers for a total $450,000 investment. Currently, almond growers clean the orchard floor so that no weeds, manures or organic matter are left before harvest begins. Almond harvesters then shake the trees to encourage the almond fruit to fall to the ground, where it dries out before growers transfer the fruit in its hull and shell to processing facilities. Since the almonds touch the ground during harvest, growers are not able to use manures, composts or other materials added to the soil that would contaminate the nuts. The current practice deprives the soil of vital nutrients and creates additional costs for growers. Hulls and shells contain nitrogen and potassium, which the trees need to thrive. Clearing away the hulls and shells means growers must fertilize more. The hulls and shells are also 70 percent of the total almond weight, adding to transportation costs. However, if the almond hulls and shells are left on the ground, they would improve the soil and save money. “Healthy soils hold nutrients better, hold water better, improve crop disease resilience, capture carbon and reduce nitrogen leaching,” said Patrick H. Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “This whole system change that eliminates almond contact with the orchard floor has the potential to reduce herbicide, fertilizer and pesticide use.” UC Davis’s research will test advanced almond harvesting practices that increase soil fertility while ensuring food safety. The research team will catch almond fruits with machinery before they fall to the ground, removing their hulls in the field and recycling them on the orchard floor instead of discarding them in processing facilities. Eliminating the on-the-ground portion of the harvest will improve the ability of growers to use compost, manure and other materials designed to improve soil health. “The importance of protecting soil health and fertility cannot be overstated. If almond growers want to preserve their farms for future generations, we must identify harvesting methods that bolster soil quality,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This research both ensures the continued success of today’s almond growers and invests in soil health improvement practices that will benefit the next generations of growers.” Brown’s team will provide the results of this research to commercial growers, industry stakeholders and other researchers to ultimately ensure the continued success of almond growers in the future. FFAR’s Seeding Solutions Grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. UC Davis’s research furthers FFAR’s 2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area, now the Soil Health Challenge Area, which enriches soil by building knowledge, fueling innovation and enabling the adoption of soil management practices. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Colleen Klemczewski, 202.204.2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • FFAR Awards $540,000 Grant to Minimize Food Waste

     ITHACA and WASHINGTON (March 25, 2019) –The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $540,000 Seeding Solutions Grant to Cornell University to develop a way to convert nutritious agricultural waste into snack foods. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the New York Apple Association and Cornell University for a total $1.08 million investment. “About one-third of food waste occurs during food processing operations and represents tremendous amounts of nutrition and energy,” said Dr. Syed Rizvi, Professor of Food Process Engineering at Cornell University and the principal investigator of this project. “Value recovery from these resources to health beneficial products using novel technologies is both a necessity and a challenge that we propose to address in this research.” The demand for commodities such as juice, jam, concentrates and alcohol are increasing. Most of these products require only the water and water-soluble components. As a result, much of fruit and vegetable skin, seeds, core, stems and soft tissue is left behind after processing. The remaining fruit and vegetable bits become an agricultural byproduct called pomace. Approximately 25-40 percent of the total fruits processed end up as pomace, which has little economic value, limited utility and is harmful to the environment. Pomace is a natural source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Instead of including this nutritious byproduct in food, it is currently disposed of as waste or used in animal feed, fertilizer, pectin, citric acid and biofuels. This project aims to preserve the nutritional qualities of pomace by developing a technology that can convert it in to value-added snack foods. The successful conversion of pomace into valuable commercial snack foods and cereals will provide a nutritious input for food and beverage manufacturers, reduce food waste, and mitigate environmental damage. “Reducing agricultural waste benefits farmers, consumers and the environment,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “It is a shame to waste a nutritionally potent byproduct like pomace and we are thrilled that Cornell is looking to use this product, thereby reducing food waste and increasing the nutritional content of snacks.” FFAR’s Seeding Solutions grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Cornell University’s project supports FFAR’s Food Waste and Loss Challenge Area (currently the Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area). FFAR’s work in this area supports innovative, systems-level approaches aimed at reducing food and nutritional insecurity and improving human health in the United States and around the globe. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Colleen Klemczewski, 202.204.2605, cklemczewski@foundationfar.org


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  • Egg-Tech Prize Opportunity to Revolutionize Egg Production, Improve Animal Welfare and Save Billions

    WASHINGTON (March 20, 2019) – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) today launched the Egg-Tech Prize. FFAR and the Open Philanthropy Project are together offering up to $6 million in prizes to the firm, group or individual who successfully develops a technology that can accurately and rapidly determine a chick’s sex as early as possible in the egg production process. Egg industry workers are currently only able to identify a chick’s sex after it hatches. For the 6 billion laying hens hatched each year worldwide, a similar number of male chicks are produced that never make it to market. The male chicks cannot lay eggs and are unsuitable for consumption due to poor growth performance and meat quality. As there is no need for the male chicks, they are culled, a practice known as male chick culling. This practice not only creates major challenges for animal welfare, but it also results in lost-opportunity costs that hinder farm profitability. Currently, producers devote time and resources to incubating the male eggs, only to cull the male chicks upon hatching. “Accelerating this technology will allow egg producers to prevent the deaths of billions of chicks per year,” said Lewis Bollard, program officer for farm animal welfare for the Open Philanthropy Project. “Combined with the transition to cage-free housing, this has the potential to greatly improve the welfare of layer hens.” If egg hatcheries had a technology to determine the chick’s sex on the day it is laid, over 6 billion male eggs could be used for food, animal feed or vaccine production. It would also reduce the cost and carbon footprint of incubating layer eggs. This technology would save the egg industry between $1.5 -$2.5 billion each year. “This Prize is an opportunity to revolutionize the egg industry,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “Eliminating male chick culling – a practice opposed by industry and animal advocacy organizations alike –would greatly improve animal welfare and add billions of eggs to the food supply. This Prize is a win-win for egg producers and consumers.” The Egg-Tech Prize brings together industry and advocates to jointly work toward ending male chick culling. FFAR is thrilled to have the support of both Open Philanthropy Project, a co-funder of the Prize, and United Egg Producers (UEP), a cooperative representing U.S. egg farmers. “UEP farmer-members are committed to high standards for animal welfare and continuous improvement in all aspects of egg production, and addressing male chick culling is a leading priority,” said Chad Gregory, UEP president and CEO. “The issue of identifying sex in-ovo is scientifically complex, with millions of dollars already spent by stakeholders to develop a solution. UEP appreciates FFAR’s support of this critical research, and we are hopeful it will bring much-needed progress toward meaningful outcomes.” Current approaches to solving this challenge range from gene-editing to measuring an egg’s hormone levels to determine its sex. However, these proposed solutions have drawbacks that prevent global adoption. An ideal solution would determine a chick’s sex early in development, before hatcheries invest in incubation and without genetically modifying the poultry genome. Recent advancements in sensor technologies, engineering and biological sciences suggest that it is possible to develop a technology that both successfully determines an egg’s sex before it hatches and can be integrated into existing production systems. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking CONTACT: Sarah Goldberg, FFAR, 202.624.0704, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org Open Philanthropy Project The Open Philanthropy Project identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes its findings. Its mission is to give as effectively as it can and share its findings openly so that anyone can build on its work. Connect: @open_phil


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  • Crop Modeling Project Awarded $5M

    URBANA and WASHINGTON — The University of Illinois’ Crops in silico (Cis) project received a $5 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to continue building a computational platform that integrates multiple models to study a whole plant virtually. “Four crops – corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat – account directly or indirectly for about 60 percent of human calories. Yet they are susceptible to declining yields due to the impending stresses of climate change, including water shortages, elevated carbon dioxide levels, and soil degradation,” said Amy Marshall-Colón, U of I Assistant Professor of Plant Biology and the Principal Investigator for the new four-year grant. With the global population increasing and the climate continuing to change, understanding how crops respond and may be adapted to environmental changes is needed to address current and future food insecurity. Developing crops using traditional methods is research, labor and cost intensive. However, Cis allows researchers to quickly determine and test characteristics that help crops thrive in specific environments. This modeling allows researchers to conduct more experiments than can be realistically achieved in a field. With Cis, billions of possible changes and combinations of changes can be tested to achieve more productive and sustainable crops in different environments. Researchers have extensive knowledge about models depicting individual processes that drive plant growth and development, and how plants utilize resources. Until now, researchers have yet to combine this knowledge into whole plant models that mimic biology. This project integrates diverse computational models. Using the whole system model, researchers will determine how crops respond to environmental changes at all biological levels, from cellular to ecosystem-level interactions. “FFAR was created to advance innovative science that addresses food and agriculture’s most pressing challenges. This project is a perfect example of using technological advances to identify how crops will respond to environmental stressors and how to help the crops thrive despite environmental changes – all while saving time, money and making this platform publicly available,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “Supplying ample food for a burgeoning population will depend on transformative projects like Crops in silico.” This grant extends the original project, which created a platform to link computational models to simulate plant growth and development. The new funding will allow researchers to quickly and accurately test how a plant responds to a combination of changes. The grant also makes the entire platform available to the public. Co-Investigators on the grant include Illinois’ Matthew Turk, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA); Stephen P. Long, Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences; Kaiyu Guan, Assistant Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences; and Meagan Lang, NCSA Research Scientist. Collaborators from other institutes include Jonathan Lynch, Professor of Plant Science at Pennsylvania State University; Bedrich Benes, Professor of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University; Lee Sweetlove, Professor of Plant Sciences at Oxford University; and James Schnable, Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska. “This approach has already identified opportunities that resulted in successful field trials by optimizing single processes like photosynthesis or single organs like root architecture,” said Steve Long. “By scaling up our work to whole plants and fields, we can move years ahead in optimizing plants for different growing conditions.” The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment at Illinois provided $350,000 in seed funding to establish the original Crops in silico project in 2015 in collaboration with NCSA, which has provided $212,000 in seed funding, designed the Cis infrastructure and interface, and developed many of the tools used to visualize crops and simulate conditions. Marshall-Colón and Turk received a $274,000 grant from FFAR in 2017 to extend this work. “We are so grateful for the support we have received from FFAR, iSEE, and NCSA,” Marshall-Colón said. ### Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking Media Contacts: Tony Mancuso, Communications Director, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, 217-300-3546, tmancuso@illinois.edu Tiffany Jolley, Strategic Content Specialist, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 256-225-3879, tjolley2@illinois.edu Sarah Goldberg, FFAR, 202-624-0704, sgoldberg@foundationFAR.org


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