ISU receives federal funding for nantechnology research to improve agriculture

An aeiral shot of the Iowa State University campus in Ames. (Iowa State University)
An aeiral shot of the Iowa State University campus in Ames. (Iowa State University)
Nick Fetty | April 6, 2016

Iowa State University is among 10 other universities to receive funding for research that uses nanotechnology to improve agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it will fund $5.2 million for nanotechnology research to “improve food safety, enhance renewable fuels, increase crop yields, manage agricultural pests, and more.” The funding is part of USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative which was established in 2008 and “is the nation’s premier peer reviewed competitive grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences.” ISU will receive nearly $1 million for two separate research projects.

The first project will receive $475,000 and aims “to develop a novel imaging technology to generate 3-D images of the extracellular structures of plants at a spatial resolution of ~15 nm.” Researchers hope that with this new imaging technology they are better able to understand how microbes interact with plant cells.

The second project will receive $478,000 and aims to develop soil-based biosensors so farmers know when to apply fertilizer. Researchers hope that this will improve crop yields to feed a growing population while minimizing water pollution from farm runoff

“In the seven years since the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative was established, the program has led to true innovations and ground-breaking discoveries in agriculture to combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of our food systems, and ensure food safety. Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology are key pieces of our investment in innovation to ensure an adequate and safe food supply for a growing global population,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack.

More info about the other universities involved in this initiative and their particular research efforts is available here.

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