CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Agricultural Research Foundation recently awarded 33 new grants totaling $400,000 to Oregon State University researchers, bringing the total of its currently funded projects to nearly $1 million.
The foundation looks for the best ideas to tackle emerging problems, often new and untested ideas, according to Arnold Appleby, chair of the Agricultural Research Foundation projects committee.
For example, there are four grants this year that focus on the spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, a newly identified vinegar fly threatening many Oregon fruit crops.
Three new grants take on the urgent agricultural issue of pollination and declining populations of honey bees. One study examines a new species of honey bee parasite, Nosema ceranae, and the other two focus on the native bumble bee as an alternative pollinator.
Other grants explore ways to mitigate drought conditions in the Klamath Basin and ways to improve the quality of forage for cattle. A few grants will help develop new crops in Oregon, including a project to test two long-lasting varieties of Christmas tree, the Nordmann and Turkish fir.
"The purpose of these two-year grants is to support applied and basic research that will improve Oregon agriculture and give some return to Oregon's economy as a whole," said Dorothy Beaton, executive director of the Agricultural Research Foundation.
The maximum grant is $12,500, which Appleby said is just enough to get an idea started. He said the panel looks for projects that have a good chance of attracting outside funding once preliminary data have been collected. It is a competitive process – this year, 40 percent of the proposals made the cut.
"When other things are equal we tend to favor new faculty who haven't had a chance to go out and generate their own funds, which is becoming more and more necessary these days, because state money is getting tighter and tighter," Appleby said.
The foundation's small investments in big ideas have been successful in securing larger grants. In the last seven years, Beaton said, 29 projects received additional funding from federal programs, 37 projects received additional funding from commodity commissions of Oregon and Washington, and about 20 projects received additional funding from other sources.
The Agricultural Research Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation and an affiliate of OSU. The board of directors is made up of representatives of numerous segments of Oregon's agriculture industry.
For a complete list of the competitive grants awarded this year, contact Beaton at 541-737-3228, or visit http://agresearchfoundation.oregonstate.edu/currentprojects.htm.