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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 Cornell AES 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.

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

Impacts of Research Funded by Federal Capacity Funds

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Wetland at dusk

Controlling agricultural nutrient runoff with wetland restoration

Apr 25, 2022

Since 1900, New York state has lost 60% of its wetlands as land was cleared for agriculture. Wetland restoration, while beneficial for many reasons, can also lead to increased production of greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide. This project sought to better understand the role of alder trees in restoring wetlands, and found that wetland reforestation with nitrogen-fixing plants like alder trees do help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Impact statement - wetlands

Corn cob

Improving the nutritional quality of sweet corn

Apr 22, 2022

Many American diets don’t provide enough critical micronutrients. Improving the nutritional quality of crops through plant breeding – called biofortification – is a cost-effective and sustainable way to help address nutritional deficiencies. The results from this research will help enhance breeding efforts centered on increasing key micronutrients in fresh sweet corn. Impact statement - sweet corn


Developing better diagnostic tests for hyperketonemia in dairy cows

Apr 18, 2022

Dairy cows are particularly susceptible to infections diseases during the time of pregnancy, birth and lactation. One particularly dangerous disease during this period is hyperketonemia. This project aimed to discover more sensitive diagnostic tests, and successfully identified lipoproteins that showed changes between healthy cows and animals with hyperketonemia. Impact statement - hyperketonemia

Rows of broccoli with different mulch treatments

Optimizing tillage and cover crops for organic vegetable farms

Apr 15, 2022

Consumer demand for organic products has been steadily increasing across the United States. While organic farmers have traditionally relied upon intensive soil tillage for weed control, excessive tillage is detrimental to long-term soil quality. This project provides guidance on alternative practices that balance crop productivity, costs, soil health and labor requirements. Impact statement - reduced tillage

A worker in protective gear is desinfecting a greenhouse

Personal protective technologies for occupational and environmental hazards

Apr 14, 2022

Agricultural workers who come into contact with pesticides, insecticides or other harmful chemicals require personal protective coveralls (PPC) to prevent exposure. If workers do not have properly fitting PPC, their safety is at risk. This research uncovered significant shortcomings in commercially available coveralls and suggested solutions that could better protect workers. Impact statement - PPC

Chopping green produce in the kitchen

Reducing heart disease risk among rural women

Apr 14, 2021

A leading cause of death in the U.S., cardiovascular disease disproportionately affects rural women. With risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes on the rise, this project leveraged existing data to further identify and implement effective measures to intervene in these trends. Impact statement - rural women's health

Tree tops

Enhancing forest health in a changing climate

Apr 9, 2021

In northern forests, leftover treetops and branches from timber harvest are often used for pellets, mulch, pulp or firewood. However, this project demonstrated that woody materials left on the ground can buffer temperature extremes, retain moisture during droughts and benefit many forest animals and plants in the process. Impact statement - forest health

Cow outside

Economic impacts of dairy cooperatives and milk handlers in NY

Apr 2, 2021

With more than 80% of the nation’s milk passing through them annually, dairy cooperatives play an ever more prominent role in the management of U.S. milk markets. This research provides new insights on the specific value that dairy farmers assign to their cooperative membership. Impact statement - dairy cooperatives