An Iowa State University project on managing herbicide-resistant weeds is one of 12 grants to increase food security and improve food production announced this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The $910,000 grant to ISU will work to develop and facilitate adoption of strategies that manage herbicide-resistant weeds in major crop systems.

The project is led by Micheal Owen, University Professor in the agronomy department, and in collaboration with economists, sociologists and weed scientists from the University of Arkansas, University of Arizona, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University and Portland State University.

NIFA announced $6 million in grants to universities, college and federal labs across the country. The grants, made by NIFA through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Food Security challenge area, support research, education and extension efforts to increase food security and improve food production. The goal of the challenge area is to increase agricultural productivity and the availability and accessibility of safe and nutritious food.

ISU’s Owen has been studying herbicide resistance in weeds for years. Herbicide-resistant weeds are a significant and increasing threat to Iowa crop production as well as crop production in all U.S. crop systems.

“The evolution of herbicide resistance has been a complex interaction of agronomic, economic and sociologic factors,” said Owen. “Similarly, developing weed management strategies is equally complex. But the resulting strategies from this project will provide more effective herbicide-resistant weed management and improved food security.”

Owen said the project will identify the technical, environmental and socio-economic factors that have contributed to the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds; quantify the relative importance of different barriers to adoption of effective management strategies; and develop solutions that will be acceptable to agricultural production systems.

“As the world population continues to grow, we will need to find ways to double our food production levels to sustain an estimated 9 billion people,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “As a leader in agriculture production, the United States plays a critical role in feeding the world. This funding is critical to finding new solutions that will enable us to feed, clothe and shelter all people.”

A brief description of each of the announced projects is available on the NIFA website, http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2014news/food_security_grants.html.

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: food safety, nutrition and health; plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov.