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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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Bottle of bio-oil

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. 

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. 

Honey bees

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. 

Roadside drainage ditch

Improving Roadside Ditch Management to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

May 14, 2017

Rethinking roadside ditch management can reduce flooding and pollution, recharge groundwater and buffer the impacts of climate change. In a pilot test the research team proved the high efficiency of simple woodchip bioreactors to remove nitrogen from agricultural runoff. 

Mark Sorrells at work in a grain field

Improving Small Grain Varieties for Farms and Consumers

May 13, 2017

Developing superior varieties of small grains that show improved yield, nutritional value, and disease resistance, is important for farmers and consumers alike. Three new winter wheat varieties are now available to farmers. Malting barley varieties from around the world are being tested for the state's budding craft beer industry. 

Girl with tomato

Helping Community Supported Agriculture to Succeed

May 12, 2017

This research takes a novel approach to estimate the local “appetite” for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). It analyzes the public dialog about food on some social media platforms, to gage the commitment in that area to CSA principles: the production of fresh, safe food by local producers who are compensated at a fair price.

Clover is used as a companion planting for small grains

Increasing Cover Crop Utilization in the Northeast

May 11, 2017

Cover crops provide countless benefits to producers and the environment. This team researched different tools and methods, such as drill-interseeding, roll-crimped cover cropping systems, and cover crops used as forage. Increased efficiencies help busy farmers to adopt cover crops as part of their standard farming practice.  

Rumit Kakar and gear for fire fighters

The Ithacan: More efficient firefighter equipment

Dec 6, 2016

Rumit Kakar’s research aims to improve the comfort and efficiency of firefighters by using personalized boot heights and a new harness backpack design. The study is supported in part by CUAES Federal Capacity Funds.

Testing brain activity in a lab setting

Reducing Risk-taking Behaviors in Adolescents

Mar 16, 2016

Adolescents take more risks than other age groups, often resulting in preventable and sometimes tragic consequences. When educating adolescents about subjects like obesity or sexual behavior, focusing on key messages and limiting details, can help youth retain information and make healthier choices. (PDF)

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