Florida International University Agro-Ecology graduate student Thelma Velez, right, explains an agricultural research project to area high school students.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Some say careers in agriculture are a thing of the past, but don’t tell that to Krish Jayachandran, a professor and co-director of Florida International University’s (FIU) Agroecology Program. He will tell you that agriculture is the wave of the future—and he is backing that statement with nearly a decade of work to ensure the next generation of agricultural scientists are ready.
“If we are going to feed more than 9 billion people in the future, we have to get creative in how we use our soil and water resources—not to mention our over-reliance on the same kind of germplasm decade after decade,” Jayachandran said. “I tell students that agriculture research is not farming, it is science and technology. It’s thinking about bio-geo-chemical processes and nutrient cycling; on-farm and off-farm remediation measures, surface and groundwater management, and bioenergy.” Read more »
Agricultural Research Service chemist Tsung Min Kuo and technician Karen Ray convert vegetable oil into antifungal agents and other value-added bioproducts.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.
Emerging bioenergy systems hold the promise of helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase economic prosperity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The National Renewable Fuel Standard mandates the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels be produced annually by 2022; of which 16 billion gallons must come from fuels that are not corn-based ethanol. These fuels, produced from the conversion of grasses, wood, and oilseeds and other biomass, must be produced in a sustainably and economically efficient manner. To meet this goal, USDA has developed a Bioenergy strategy, focused on research, development, education, and extension. As part of USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist series of white papers on the Department’s research portfolio, this plan aligns USDA’s biofuels research with the goals of President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. Read more »
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport served as a dramatic backdrop today for an announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that delivers $136 million in research and development grants to public and private sector partners in 22 states. In short, the grants look to make energy for autos and marine and jet crafts from plants. By unlocking that potential—known as bioenergy—Vilsack said a “next-generation of biofuels” would create new economies in rural areas across the United States. Eventually, these regional, renewable energy markets will generate sustainable jobs and decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil. And that future, said Vilsack, is closer than we think.
“This is an opportunity to take woody biomass from our forests to create fuel for jets to fly anywhere in the world,” said Vilsack. “This is a great day for our country. We’re building something new, creating jobs everywhere in the country.” Read more »
In an announcement released this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack established the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote the next generation of biofuels.
The announcement comes as Americans are pinching pennies due to gas prices climbing to over $4 a gallon. “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require investments in projects like we are announcing today,” said Vilsack. Read more »
The USDA Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization Team promotes and guides the removal of woody biomass from national forests. Removal of woody biomass from forests provides a variety of critical benefits for rural economies from wood to energy projects to overall ecosystem health. Woody biomass is used in bioenergy facilities that use commercially proven technologies to produce thermal, electrical or liquid/gaseous bioenergy.
Because climate change is having profound and significant impacts on the nation’s forests and rangelands, demands for renewable energy and bio-based biofuels products is increasing exponentially. Forests also play an important role in sequestering carbon, thereby reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Read more »