Challenge Areas

FFAR CONDUCTS RESEARCH IN SIX CHALLENGE AREAS

These Challenge Areas form FFAR’s strategic research framework.

Food and agriculture systems are complex–comprised of many interconnected factors. FFAR’s work in each Challenge Area aims to solve large-scale agricultural problems, while understanding broad implications and impacts. FFAR envisions a world in which innovative and collaborative science provides every person access to nutritious, affordable food grown on thriving farms. It is only by working together, through an interdisciplinary approach, that we can achieve this vision.

Soil Health

Sustainable Water Management

Next Generation Crops

Advanced Animal Systems

Urban Food Systems

Health-Agriculture Nexus

Healthy soil is crucial for growing nutritious, affordable food on thriving farms. The Soil Health Challenge Area catalyzes transformative research that addresses knowledge gaps, fuels innovation and enables the adoption of soil management practices. This research explores linkages between soil health and farm productivity, economics, human health, management practices and other areas.

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Water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges for 21st century agriculture. Sustainably managing water resources is vital to ensuring farms continue to thrive. Research in this Challenge Area supports increasing water availability and water use efficiency, replenishing ground water, reducing water pollution and developing water reuse and recycling technologies.

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Producers need crops that can efficiently produce greater yields with fewer inputs. To address this challenge, FFAR’s research focuses on developing non-traditional crops, creating new economic opportunities for conventional crops and increasing crop diversity and farm profitability. This research advances novel, nutritious, profitable and resilient crops.

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Producing nutritious, affordable food on thriving farms requires improving the efficiency of protein production for human or animal consumption. Research in the Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area supports sustainable animal production through innovative technologies, environmentally-sound production practices and advancements in animal health and welfare.

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Agriculture is moving from fields to urban environments. The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area enhances our ability to feed city populations. Research in this Challenge Area advances viable solutions to complex problems by looking at multiple aspects of and connections within the food system. This research ultimately aims to reduce food and nutritional insecurity through economically viable and sustainable solutions.

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The Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutrition insecurity and improve human health in the United States and around the globe. The Health-Agriculture Nexus research area focuses on increasing access to nutritious foods, reducing food loss and waste, advancing plant and animal production systems for better nutrition and affordability and developing crops with high nutritional value.

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Who we are

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was created as a new model for agriculture research funding through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill. A nonprofit based in Washington, DC, the Foundation builds unique partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges

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Testimonials

Together, we will solve problems like how to pair new ideas with the most relevant technologies, and this will help us all create products that are not just better, but game changing — even life changing.

Fayaz Khazi, Ph.D.
president of Precision PlantSciences

This collaborative research with public and private partners will build on the investments already made in agriculture research so farmers like me can see the return on those investments through improvements in plants in our fields.

Pam Johnson
National Corn Growers Association past president, FFAR Board Member

Rijk Zwaan is keen to actively contribute to the world’s food supply and stimulate vegetable consumption. Joining the Crops of the Future Collaborative, with leafy vegetables as one of the focus crops, can help us achieve this mission.

Kees Reinink, Ph.D.
Managing Director of Rijk Zwaan
Overcoming Water Scarcity

Overcoming Water Scarcity

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Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.

FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.

The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.

Protein Challenge

Protein Challenge

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.

The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.

Food Waste and Loss

Food Waste and Loss

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About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.

Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability

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Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.

Urban Food Systems

Urban Food Systems

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The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.

The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.

Making My Plate Your Plate

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.