The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has given Purdue University two grants totaling $1 million each for five years. The first funding is given to a $10 million initiative led by Brent Ross of Michigan State University that aims to create resilient food systems that can weather a variety of catastrophes, including pandemics, tornadoes, and floods. The second funding will aid in creating a controlled-environment agriculture platform for raising salt-tolerant food crops using saline irrigation water as part of a $10 million project directed by Raghupathy Karthikeyan of Clemson University.
As part of a $70 million commitment to sustainable agriculture that unites research, teaching, and extension operations, NIFA gave Purdue University two other grants totaling $10 million earlier this year. One of these awards helps programs improve Eastern U.S. forests’ economic sustainability and resilience. At the same time, the other aims to increase the production and consumption of seafood in the Midwest.
Marshall and Renee Wiatt, family business management experts in agricultural economics, will create and coordinate a curriculum for farmers, with plans to test it in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The long-term objective of the Clemson project is to develop a technique allowing high-value crops to be hydroponically grown in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida utilizing saline irrigation water. Since agriculture globally withdraws 70% of the freshwater available to it and its significant contribution to water-related problems in diverse places, this project is essential for coastal areas with plentiful but saline water sources.
To achieve this purpose, Radhakrishna will assist in creating curricula and courses for high school and university students that emphasize the advantages and effects of using saline water for agriculture. In addition, to identify and address any problems that can prevent using safe, effective, and sustainable saline irrigation water in coastal regions, he will also conduct a requirements assessment and stakeholder analysis. Finally, Radhakrishna will assess the project’s effects on students, farmers, and other significant stakeholders in the designated coastal regions as it nears completion.
Image: Purdue University agricultural economists are collaborating with Michigan State University to develop more resilient food systems for coping with multiple disasters, such as when flooding occurs during a pandemic. Heavy rain pounded in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, a cornfield in August 2021. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)