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Impact of Federal Capacity Funds

Whether it be investments in research to combat invasive species or outreach efforts to build healthier communities, Federal Capacity Funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provide vital support for a broad base of critically important programs that address local, state and national issues. At Cornell University, no other source of continuous funding addresses such a broad array of real-time, real-world issues important to our citizens, our food supply, our environment, and our future.

The $6 million project portfolio managed by CUAES supports an average of 175 researchers in three colleges. If projects also include an outreach and extension component, they might receive additional funding from Cornell Cooperative Extension, who manages Federal Capacity Funds from the Smith-Lever program.

In addition to directly addressing a range of important issues facing our region and especially New York State, funded research projects also enable faculty to be more competitive in applying for subsequent research funding from other sources.

View all currently active projects (pdf)

Read about the impacts of selected projects from previous funding cycles below. 

Impacts of Research Funded by Federal Capacity Funds

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Climate change and invasive mussels in New York lakes

May 2, 2018
New York`s lakes are a critical resource, and climate change and invasive mussels are two of the biggest threats to these lakes. How much they interact and change the lake ecology and water quality depends on the lake. The General Lakes Modeling System, expanded and tested by this team, is now used worldwide for assessing the effects of climate change and human activities on lake systems. Impact statement | Read more
Harvesting switchgrass

Sustainability of perennial bioenergy crops on marginal soils

May 1, 2018
Bioenergy production in the Northeast will primarily need to use idled marginal lands to avoid competition for prime farmlands. This team explores, which perennial bioenergy crop varieties can flourish on poorly drained soils or with other challenging soil conditions not suitable for food crops, and how to improve yield under these conditions. Impact statement | Read more
Roof top farming in New York City

From the ground up: soil best management practices for rooftop farms

Apr 27, 2018
As the demand for high quality, local produce rises, urban farming has become an attractive option. But challenges like lack of soil, water supply, roof-bearing capacity, and managing nutrient leachate from soil must be addressed for rooftop farming to succeed. The team’s new soil mix increased yield dramatically while maintaining quality. Impact statement 

Microbes Help Turn Greek Yogurt Waste into Fuel

Dec 21, 2017
Now researchers have found a way to use bacteria to turn the leftover whey from Greek yogurt into molecules that could be used in biofuels or safe feedstock additives, converting a waste stream to valuable inputs for local farms.  Read more
Late blight

Plant Disease Forecasting in Real Time

May 16, 2017
Late blight of potatoes and tomatoes is a serious fungal disease responsible for many crop failures. BlightPro, a new, innovative blight forecasting app, is now helping growers in eight states to better suppress the disease while decreasing the use of fungicides.  Read more

Smaller Hives for Honey Bees Reduce the Need for Pesticides

May 15, 2017
The parasitic mite, responsible for massive losses of honey bees, prefers the larger hives used for honey production. Researchers found that colonies kept in small hives that simulate those of wild bees experienced much less mortality from viruses spread by the mites.  Read more


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