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NIFA awards more than $2m for alfalfa research

Program encourages projects that establish multidisciplinary networks to address priority national or regional science needs of alfalfa industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the award recipients of more than $2 million in Alfalfa & Forage Research Program (AFRP) funding to study an array of topics affecting the alfalfa industry.

Now in its fourth year of funding, AFRP was created to support integrated, collaborative research and technology transfer to improve the efficiency and sustainability of alfalfa forage and seed production systems, according to the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). The program encourages projects that establish multidisciplinary networks to address priority national or regional science needs of the alfalfa industry.

The following projects were awarded funding:

* Developing Regionally Adapted, Resilient Alfalfa Germplasm Pools ($290,000);

* A Decision Support Tool for Predicting Alfalfa Yield & Quality to Enhance Resource Use Efficiency ($253,825);

* Development of Grazing Recommendations & On-Farm Decision Tools for Managing Alfalfa-Grass Mixtures in the Southeastern U.S. ($250,000);

* Bacterial Stem Blight of Alfalfa: Connection with Frost Damage, Development of Resistant Germplasm & Mapping Resistance Genes ($250,000);

* Developing an Attractant for Lygus Hesperus Derived from Host Plant Volatile Compounds ($250,000);

* Proximal & Remote Sensing of Alfalfa Canopies for Early Detection of Insect Stress and Rapid Integrated Pest Management Decision Making ($290,000);

* Determining Genetic Factors that Influence Forage Quality in Alfalfa ($250,000), and

* Identifying Factors to Optimize Establishment of Alfalfa Interseeded in Corn ($250,000).

“AFRP continues to enhance alfalfa production all over the country,” NAFA president Beth Nelson said. “Its scope and reach becomes more impressive every year.”

AFRP funds are collaborative in nature, meaning each project submission must include a collaboration among organizations in at least three states as a requirement of funding. Researchers from 19 states will share in this funding.

AFRP supports the development of improved alfalfa forage and seed production systems. Its focus areas include: improving: alfalfa forage and seed yield through better nutrient, water and/or pest management; persistence of alfalfa stands by lessening biotic or abiotic stresses; alfalfa forage and seed harvesting and storage systems to optimize economic returns; estimates of alfalfa forage quality as an animal feed to increase forage usage in animal feeds; breeding to address biotic and abiotic stresses that affect forage yield and persistence, and the production of seed for propagation.

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