Kansas State University awards $500,000 to boost global food systems research by faculty
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University has awarded $500,000 to faculty members who are taking on some of the world's food challenges created by a rapidly increasing population.
The Global Food Systems Innovation Grants were announced by Karen Burg, vice president for research, who emphasized how this faculty research helps Kansans.
"Given the importance of food production to the Kansas economy, the innovative technologies and knowledge generated from this initiative will lay a solid foundation for economic development within the state and help Kansas remain a leader in food production," Burg said.
The funds were provided by the Kansas Department of Commerce and directed through President Kirk Schulz's Global Food Systems Initiative, announced in January 2014. Grant requests were evaluated by an 11-member panel of faculty members and students from disciplines across the university.
Burg said the awards help to continue a robust research engine that is critical in Kansas State University's quest to become a Top 50 public research university by the year 2025.
Some of the common features of funded projects include multidisciplinary approaches to addressing needs in the global food system; helping create jobs and wealth in the state; and involving students.
The following are Global Food Systems Innovation Grant projects and grant amounts:
• Mobile Drip Irrigation for Water Limited Production, $45,000. Mobile drip irrigation is a new technology that combines the efficiency of drip irrigation with the economic advantages of center pivot sprinkler irrigation. Researchers say their work will help farmers maximize net returns per unit of water applied.
• Tapping the Potential of Ribonucleic Acid Interference for Agriculture, $59,000. This project will develop technology to combat plant and animal disease, which in turn will increase productivity in agriculture. It involves both nanotechnology and consumer acceptance of food technology.
• Applications for the Probiotic Bacterium, Megaspaera elsdenii, in Monogastric Farm Animals, $90,000. Kansas State University researchers have formed a partnership with a Kansas-based company to expand a beneficial food additive beyond cattle, to include poultry, pigs and horses.
• Experiential, Multidisciplinary Career-Development Investment for Kansas, $75,445. This project builds on the university's successful Frontier program, which provides experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students throughout the global food system.
• Development of a National Genetic Evaluation System for Feet and Leg Conformation in Beef Cattle, $22,858. Improving hoof, foot and leg structure of beef cattle will enhance farm and ranch profitability, which in turn increases the vibrancy of rural communities across Kansas.
• Developing Novel Starch-based Ingredients with Controlled Enzyme Digestibility and Health Benefits, $68,530. This project will provide information to help commercialize a patent-pending technology to ultimately design foods that are more easily digested in animals and humans.
• Guanidinoacetic Acid as a Source of Creatine for Cattle, $39,998. Researchers are hoping to improve the efficiency of beef production by evaluating the effect of guanidinoacetic acid on lean growth rate in cattle.
• Beefing up the Beef Transport System, $60,000. Transportation failures in the beef cattle industry have significant negative consequences. Researchers will build computer models of beef production and transportation to help lessen potential threats to these systems.
• An International Symposium on Urban Food Systems, $39,169. The Kansas City metro area is a catalyst for change that is leading the national movement in urban food systems. Faculty at Kansas State University Olathe will host a three-day symposium to increase education about food production in urban settings. By 2050, it is estimated that 7 billion people will live in cities worldwide.
The university's Global Food Systems Initiative is driven by estimates that the world's population will increase to 9.6 billion people by the year 2050. Kansas State University researchers note that the world's farmers will need to grow as much food in the next 35 years as they have in the history of the world.
It is also predicted that the global middle class will double by 2025, potentially increasing consumer food-related spending by $3.5 trillion.
Learn more about Kansas State University's work in this area at http://www.k-state.edu/globalfood.