⋅ BY TOBIE BLANCHARD ⋅
An LSU AgCenter scientist has been awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to improve sustainability and profitability of rice farming through research innovations that advance climate-resilient crops.
“Agricultural innovation remains paramount to the future of Louisiana. Securing federal funding for projects like this empowers LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda and enables us to further leverage our agricultural expertise,” said William F. Tate IV, LSU President.
While rice production contributes $550 million to Louisiana’s economy, extreme weather patterns due to climate change pose serious challenges to enhancing productivity. The project outcomes aim to help rice growers in the southern U.S. make the right decisions at the right time to reduce yield losses, land use, water and energy consumption.
“We will equip the current and next generation of rice farmers, consultants and researchers with the necessary knowledge and skillset to embrace the new climate-smart agriculture technologies and production practices,” said Prasanta Subudhi, the lead investigator of the project and a crop geneticist in the LSU AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences.
Knowledge gained from the project will increase the speed and accuracy of identifying rice genotypes with desirable combinations of genes for improved adaptation to a changing climate.
The specific objectives of the project are to assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of current crop management practices and identify barriers to adopting novel technologies and practices; develop novel genotypes with enhanced tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses; develop and optimize environmentally friendly crop management practices; and implement a robust extension program to disseminate the concepts and benefits of sustainable farming technology.
“With this project, the AgCenter is showing its commitment to promoting and disseminating sustainable farming practices and technologies and to training of the next generation of researchers and extension workers,” Interim Vice President of Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture Matt Lee said.
This grant is part of a $70 million dollar investment from USDA to establish robust, resilient and climate-smart food and agricultural systems. It is the largest grant for rice research the AgCenter has received.