Oregon State University

U.S. Department of Agriculture Makes an Impact

Oregon State University researchers are successfully using support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA support for OSU research during Fiscal Years 2008-2012 totaled over $160 million, with over $35 million in FY12 alone.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded grants to spur production of bioenergy and biobased products. through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). IN FY 2012,Oregon State University received $349,624 of those funds. http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2012/12/17/usda-awards-10m-for-bioenergy-biobased-rd/

Here are examples of USDA funds to OSU making a difference



Obesity Prevention

With NIFA funding, OSU researchers are developing an obesity prevention program for children in rural Oregon. Childhood obesity is a problem faced by many families across the nation. In addition, many children in rural areas face obstacles, such as access to fresh healthy foods and physical activity and recreational programs, that help to fight obesity.

In 2010, NIFA awarded OSU assistant professor Deborah John $4 Million to start “Generating Rural Options for Weight-Healthy Kids and Communities.” John works with Cooperative Extension in six Western states to assess features in rural communities that either prevent or promote obesity and community resources and readiness that could help with prevention efforts.
Read more: USDA Announcement


Sustainable Agriculture

For 80 years, Oregon State has studied wheat from every angle, including disease resistance, yield potential, milling and baking qualities, soil erosion and pesticide use. Growers are now key participants in a $20 million USDA-funded study of climate impacts on cereal crops in the Pacific Northwest. Along with Washington State and the University of Idaho, OSU is looking at how grain crops will fare under future climate conditions.

Steve Petrie, soil scientist and director of OSU’s Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center, anticipates inroads in understanding , towards always adapting cropping practices to fit the world in which we’re growing crops, whether the conditions are due to climate change or some other factor. Read more


Milk Production

Michael Qian, smiling.

Thanks to support from CSREES, new processing techniques for dairy milk are resulting in a "fresher" taste and a shelf life that outlasts conventional processing by more than 30 days. The technique could help local dairies find larger markets for their product while maintaining their high quality standards. Michael Qian is one of the primary researchers on the project.
Read more  NIFA article




U.S. consumer demand for organically produced milk regularly exceeds supply. Oregon is a nationwide leader in organic milk production, and farmers are converting to organic production all the time, says Mike Gamroth, OSU Extension dairy specialist and researcher in Animal Sciences. With CSREES funding, OSU researchers have developed guides to help farmers manage dairies for increased feed production and more productive grazing, resulting in increased milk production. Read more  NIFA article

Improved Yield

OSU faculty, including Steve Petrie, Superintendent of OSU’s Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center, in collaboration with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, have developed practices that minimize soil erosion while improving crop yields and quality, helping growers prosper in the global marketplace. Ongoing projects that lead to more sustainable cropping systems include developing tillage practices that increase water infiltration, managing soil to enhance carbon sequestration, improving resistance to pests, and developing enhanced nutrient management practices that increase fertilizer efficiency.  The projects have led to improved soil quality and wheat yields in the dryland production areas of eastern Oregon. Read more

Organic  Vegetables

Corn plants at Gathering Together Farm, OSU sign.With significant support from the USDA-NIFA funded by the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), Jim Myers of  OSU Horticulture leads the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC). NOVIC provides services to growers throughout the state and across the northern tier of the U.S. aimed at sustainable organic vegetable production, including education on seed production and processing, farmer-led plant breeding and on-farm vegetable variety trials. The project completed its first year of trials in 2010 and has provided that information to growers to assist them in their choice of varieties adapted to their growing systems.  The trials have also provided useful data to pea, sweet corn and broccoli breeders developing varieties for organic systems. Read more.

Speciality Crops

OSU projects will help provide specialty crop producers with information and tools to successfully grow, process, and market safe and high quality products. In FY 2010, NIFA's Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) research and extension grants were awarded to OSU for more than $5M. In addition, with funding from the CSREES Integrated Food Safety grant program, Yanyun Zhao is helping ensure the safety of specialty foods production by developing and implementing food safety training.Read more  NIFA article   ; Northwest Specialty Food Network


Natural Resources

Supported by the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service,  studies by on effects  of climate change, flooding, and human influences on the landscape have provided keys to the conservation and management of  the Northern Spotted Owl and its ecosystem in Oregon.

Species Recovery

Supported by the Forest Service, long-term demographic studies by Robert Anthony, Eric Forsman, and Katie Dugger  have provided keys to conservation and management of the Northern Spotted Owl  and its ecosystem.  This research has been instrumental in meeting monitoring objectives under the Northwest Forest Plan; the numerous publications have been important to the development of a recovery plan for this threatened species.

Green Building Materials

 Li - man smiling Kaichang Li and his OSU colleagues developed an adhesive made with renewable natural resources. The high-performance, formaldehyde-free,  soy-based adhesive is stronger than, and cost-competitive with, conventional adhesives. Application of this adhesive in U.S. wood products may improve the global competitiveness of U.S soybean growers and wood composite companies, including furniture and kitchen cabinetry industries.
The USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) funded this research project through the National Research Initiative (NRI) Biobased Products and Bioenergy Production Research program.
Read more   NIFA article ; OSU media release

Douglas Firs

The Swiss needle cast epidemic in Douglas-fir forests of the Pacific Northwest is  intensifying, according to research by Bryan Black, Dave Shaw, and Jeff Stone, partially funded by the FS through the Swiss Needle Cast Cooperative. The disease  affects hundreds of thousands of acres, costing tens of millions of dollars a year in lost growth. OSU has developed an integrated pest management strategy including tools to better anticipate problems, encouraging alternative management strategies, such as planting different types of trees, and developing fungal-tolerant families of Douglas fir. Read more Extension article; Science Daily


Collaboration for Land Management

Lisa GainesLisa Gaines of the Institute for Natural Resources and Steve Tesch  of the College of Forestry are OSU leads on the Forest Service’s Integrated Landscape Assessment Project ,  a partnership of federal and state agencies, universities, and other organizations devoted to developing methods, data, and models for integrated, collaborative large landscape assessments across all wildland ownerships in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and New Mexico. Involving  57 people, ILAP outcomes will inform land management planning to restore watersheds, foster wildlife habitat, and support economic well-being of communities. Read more



Tree genetics

With funding by ARS and NIFA, an international team led by Distinguished Professor Steven Strauss has made key discoveries about the genetic mechanisms of tree growth and adaptation, and their application to breeding. The findings have promise for forestry, bioenergy, horticulture, ecology and conservation. Applications include accelerated breeding, better understanding of risks to forests from climate change, improvements to health and fruit yield, and safe uses of transgenic biotechnologies. Strauss emphasizes outreach and basic science in applying biotechnology to biological and social problems Tree Biosafety and Genomics Research Cooperative; and more



Funding for OSU Research

USDA Offices

Award Total (FY12)

Agricultural Research Service


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Economic Research Service


Farm Service Agency


Food and Nutrition Service


Forest Service


National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Natural Resources Conservation Service


Risk Management Agency


Rural Development





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Contact Info

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