Friday, August 24, 2018

Dept. Of Agriculture Seeking Research Proposals To Address Spotted Lanternfly, Conservation Practices, More

Research institutions, businesses, farmers and other organizations seeking funding support for innovative research that will advance the diversity, productivity and profitability of agriculture in Pennsylvania may apply for grants through the Department of Agriculture’s research program. (formal notice)
The deadline for applications is September 28.
“We appreciate having these funds available to help advance agriculture in our commonwealth,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “There is no shortage of opportunities in this industry, but there is no shortage of challenges, either. In choosing the research priorities this year, we were very intentional about building off the extensive research we’ve supported over the past three years.
“This is part of our ongoing work to facilitate the development of a strategic plan for the industry—a roadmap for the next decade that enables our producers, processors and agribusinesses to navigate and compete successfully in an increasingly complex and challenging global marketplace."
Among the priorities are--
-- Economic impact and estimated costs of compliance with Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. The Commonwealth has made considerable progress to reduce nutrient loads into waterways, particularly within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Despite these reductions, considerable work remains for the agriculture and urban stormwater sectors to reduce nutrient runoff further within the bay watershed.
Estimates of potential costs associated with this necessary work are outdated. The most recent reliable estimate of the amount of resources required to implement nonpoint source best management practices (BMP) fully for the agriculture sector is an August 2013 report from the Pennsylvania State University's Environmental and Natural Resources Institute that showed a need of $3.6 billion in capital costs or, on an annualized basis and including operation and maintenance costs, $378.3 million per year through 2025.
The Department will accept research proposals to update estimated costs of nonpoint source BMP installation as the Commonwealth works to prepare the third phase of its Watershed Implementation Plan.
-- Inventory of noncost-shared conservation BMP in agriculture. In 2016, the state partnered with agricultural organizations and academia to survey and inventory farmers' voluntary efforts to implement conservation best management practices without the assistance of public investment.
This noncost share survey and the results are part of the Commonwealth's Chesapeake Bay restoration goal in that results are used to generate credit for previously unacknowledged water quality improvements on the part of the agriculture sector.
The Department will accept research proposals to replicate the survey using the 2016 design, including on farm verification of reported improvements by a sample of the survey's total population.
-- Spotted lanternfly. Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, was detected in Pennsylvania 3 years ago, and quickly established itself as a damaging pest in neighborhoods, forests and agricultural settings.
As with any new invasive species, significant knowledge gaps exist in understanding of the pest and its potential effects on this Commonwealth.
The Department will consider research proposals that address basic and applied research on spotted lanternfly, with priority given to proposals that analyze the pest's economic impacts on agriculture, general commerce and communities, on integrated pest management strategies for agricultural commodities of importance to this Commonwealth and on basic biological research that will allow us to develop more sophisticated, cost-effective and environmentally-low-impact control strategies.
-- Pollinator Protection Plan. The Commonwealth released the Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan in January 2018 following an extensive process of engagement with stakeholders. The report provides a series of recommendations to provide a broad framework in which to consider and improve pollinator health in this Commonwealth.
The report is designed to be used by a variety of communities and stakeholder groups at multiple levels, from local to Statewide.
The Department will accept proposals that align with the eight recommendations for research found in Chapter 5 of the report.
For the second year in a row, this year’s program will also offer micro-grants to research and support the development of micro-credentials or badges that teach specific workforce development skills; solutions to practical problems of hydroponic and aquaponic operations; and remedies to challenges common in urban agricultural operations.
More than $860,000 will be available this year for non-animal-based research projects. All proposals will be scored competitively to determine the final grant recipients.
The August 25 PA Bulletin notice on this solicitation outlines the format of the applications and additional details.
Applications should be addressed and delivered to the Department of Agriculture, Attn: Research Solicitation Review Committee, Room 211, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
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