Each year CSANR administers an internal competitive grant program called BIOAg to fund new research and education projects focused on improving the sustainability of agriculture in Washington State. To date, through BIOAg and precursor internal grant programs, CSANR has funded 150 projects – many of which have led to significant new investments of extramural funding to further advance these ideas. Over the course of the program [and within each year] we have funded projects ranging from basic science to applied research to extension and educational products and we’ve always been able to maintain a good blend across this continuum.
BIOAg is a competitive program, where faculty must submit proposals that are reviewed through a combination of ad hoc reviews and a final review panel. Successful projects are reviewed for both relevancy to agricultural sustainability concerns in the state as well as the quality of the science proposed. This process not only helps us select the very best proposals (we fund less than 25% of proposals), but helps to prepare WSU faculty to compete in regional and federal competitions that are extremely competitive (success rates often ~5%). In 2015, we funded 8 new research projects and one extension/curriculum project and funded 5 new faculty investigators that had not received funding before.
Additionally, much of what we have funded is complimentary to the kind of research projects funded by farmers through traditional commodity research programs. We usually don’t fund projects that commodity commissions are likely to fund, but we often do fund elements of those ideas that have some degree of public value-added, such as the universality of the research findings to more crop production systems or understanding the implication of new management practices on environmental or nutritional outcomes, etc. Over the years, we’ve funded numerous projects in every major agricultural production system in the state and many minor systems, but perhaps more importantly we’ve funded projects that span multiple production systems and post-farm considerations.
As with past years, the projects selected for BIOAg funding in 2015 provide a wide range of ideas that we hope can get off the ground. These include evaluating novel approaches to crop protection in both organic and integrated pest management; several projects focused on various dimensions of soil quality and health (alternative/cover crops, livestock-soil management, and understanding microbial-plant interactions in soil); nutritional benefits of food; and improving the recycling of farm-based wastes. The list of 2015 projects can be found below. Each link takes you to an abstract for the project.
The Search for Acid-tolerant Rhizobia to Improve Pulse Production – Carpenter-Boggs, L.