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Science Policy Report

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14 May 2014

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Facing similar risks, Africa and Asia coordinate research on climate change
~ Crop Biotechnology Report Released
~ Building Resilience Critical to End Hunger and Undernutrition by 2025
~ Glacial Region's Melt Past 'Point of No Return,' NASA Says
~ Morocco Courts Private Sector’s Help for $28 Billion Water Plan

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ ASF Sustainable Research Program
~ Critical Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering
~ Crop Protection and Pest Management
~ Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, Chesapeake Watershed
~ Geomorphology and Land-Use Dynamics
~ National Integrated Water Quality Program
~ 2014 Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Biotechnology, Biochemical, and Biomass Engineering

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ 2015 US Compost Council Conference
~ 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture
~ RFI: Grand Challenges in Subsurface Engineering
~ Engineering researchers help Tucson plan for drier days ahead
~ Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee
~ Parched: A New Dust Bowl Forms in the Heartland
~ Aquaponics Revives an Ancient Farming Technique to Feed the World

Congressional/Administration News

~ USDA Appropriations
~ WWDA conference report
~ Office of Science and Technology Policy Internship Program

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Facing similar risks, Africa and Asia coordinate research on climate change

Scientists from Africa and Asia will collaborate on research into climate risks in order to share knowledge between regions and help vulnerable communities adapt. Speaking at the launch of the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) in Kathmandu on April 30, leaders of the organizations involved in the new program said that demographic trends and climate measurements in similar environments across both regions indicate that a large number of people and their livelihoods are at risk from the effects of climate change. Read the full article here.


(TOP) ~ Crop Biotechnology Report Released

Crop Biotechnology “continues to provide major environmental benefits and allow farmers to grow more, using fewer resources" according to the ninth annual report on the global economic and environmental impact of genetically modified (GM) crops released by PG Economics. Findings include: Crop biotechnology has contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices, reduced pesticide use, and increased yield, especially for farmers in developing countries. Read the press release and full report here.


(TOP) ~ Building Resilience Critical to End Hunger and Undernutrition by 2025

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the post-2015 agenda should aim to end hunger by 2025—and can succeed by building resilience to various environmental, political and economic shocks that threaten food security and livelihoods. More than 800 experts from around the world are convening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a three-day conference to discuss the scope of this challenge and the investments required to end hunger and malnutrition for good. The conference, “Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security,” is organized by IFPRI, its 2020 Vision Initiative, and partners from May 15–17, 2014. Read more about the conference here


(TOP) ~ Glacial Region's Melt Past 'Point of No Return,' NASA Says

A rapidly melting glacial region of Antarctica has passed “the point of no return,” threatening to increase sea levels, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA estimates the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea region contain enough water to raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters). United Nations researchers in September said sea levels have risen by 19 centimeters (7.5 inches) since the Industrial Revolution, and may rise an additional 26 centimeters to 98 centimeters by 2100. Read the full article here.


(TOP) ~ Morocco Courts Private Sector’s Help for $28 Billion Water Plan

Morocco’s government is appealing to private investors to help finance a 230 billion-dirham ($28 billion) water plan that the North African country hopes will ease stress on its resources. Morocco is prone to drought and heavily dependent on rainfall. Its agricultural industry relies on more traditional yet wasteful irrigation methods, employing almost 40 percent of the country’s 11 million workforce. Pressure on water resources in such places as Marrakesh led to clashes in 2012 over rising costs. Read full article here.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ ASF Sustainable Research Program

The Agronomic Science Foundation (ASF) announces a new endeavor to annually award $100,000 in research grants for innovative research projects involving cover crops and related management practices integrated into agronomic crop rotations within areas of agricultural concentration in the U.S. including, but not limited to, the Mississippi River Basin. Projects are sought that advance our knowledge of agricultural systems aimed at increasing productivity, while minimizing impact on ecosystems services and the environment. Deadline 1 July. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Critical Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering

This solicitation is a part of a larger national "Big Data Initiative”, which covers a wide range of topics: big data infrastructure; education and workforce development; and multi-disciplinary collaborative teams and communities that address complex scientific, biomedical and engineering grand challenges. This year, the solicitation invites two types of proposals: "Foundations" (F): those developing or studying fundamental techniques, theories, methodologies, and technologies of broad applicability to Big Data problems; and "Innovative Applications" (IA): those developing techniques, methodologies and technologies of key importance to a Big Data problem directly impacting at least one specific application. All proposals must address critical challenges for big data management, big data analytics, or scientific discovery processes impacted by big data. Deadline 9 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Crop Protection and Pest Management

NIFA requests applications for the Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) Competitive Grants Program for fiscal year (FY) 2014 to address critical state, regional and national integrated pest management (IPM) needs to ensure food security and effectively respond to other major societal challenges. The CPPM program supports projects that address high priority IPM challenges with coordinated state, regional, and national research and extension efforts. The impact of these research and extension efforts will be increased by the establishment of communication networks and stakeholder participation in setting priorities. In FY 2014, the CPPM program will provide support for projects to conduct applied research and development, extension implementation, and regional coordination. Deadline 19 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, Chesapeake Watershed

The USGS is offering a funding opportunity to a CESU partner for research in a joint research program in the field of global climate and sea-level change under the auspices of The Global Change Research Act of 1990, which established the United States Global Change Research Program.   The proposed Cooperative Agreement has as its major goal to analyze the impacts of Holocene sea level rise and extreme storm events on tidal marsh wetlands in the greater Chesapeake Bay region with emphasis on the Potomac and Rappahannock River estuaries. Deadline 30 May. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Geomorphology and Land-Use Dynamics

The Geomorphology and Land-use Dynamics Program supports innovative research into processes that shape and modify landscapes over a variety of length and time scales. The program encourages research that investigates quantitatively the coupling and feedback among such processes, their rates, and their relative roles, especially in the contexts of variation in climatic, biologic, and tectonic influences and in light of changes due to human impact. The Geomorphology and Land-use Dynamics Program is committed to supporting the most meritorious research in any relevant area, including interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, as well as research involving international collaboration. The Program is especially interested in proposals in emerging fields. Deadline 16 July. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ National Integrated Water Quality Program

The goal of the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP) is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of surface water and groundwater resources through research, education, and extension activities. Projects funded through this program will work to solve water resource problems by advancing and disseminating the knowledge base available to agricultural, rural, and urbanizing communities. Funded projects should lead to science-based decision making and management practices that improve the quality of the Nations surface water and groundwater resources in agricultural, rural, and urbanizing watersheds. Deadline 3 July. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ 2014 Conservation Innovation Grants

NRCS offers funding opportunities at the state level to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. The following states have funding opportunities available: Caribbean Area, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island. See full announcement for application deadlines.


(TOP) ~ Biotechnology, Biochemical, and Biomass Engineering

The National Science Foundation is seeking grant funding proposals under its Biotechnology, Biochemical, and Biomass Engineering (BBBE) program which supports fundamental engineering research that advances the understanding of cellular and biomolecular processes (in vivo, in vitro, and/or ex vivo) and eventually leads to the development of enabling technology and/or applications in support of the biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, and bioenergy industries, or with applications in health or the environment. Research projects of particular interest in BBBE include metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, quantitative systems biotechnology, tissue engineering and stem cell culture technologies, protein engineering/protein design, single cell dynamics and modeling development of novel "omics" tools for biotechnology applications. Deadline 30 October. Read full announcement.

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ 2015 US Compost Council Conference

The USCC’s Annual Conference, held January 20-23, 2015 in Austin, TX, is the premiere professional meeting for composting, organics recycling, and related topics.  The USCC is seeking conference presenters with recent research and case studies on organic residuals or the use of compost. Priority submission deadline 15, June. Learn more and submit your abstract here.


(TOP) ~ 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture

This gathering of conservation-minded individuals from around the world will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba on June 22-25, 2014. The goal of this event is to promote the practical application of conservation practices to improve the sustainability of agriculture. Early registration deadline 23 May. Learn more and register here.


(TOP) ~ RFI: Grand Challenges in Subsurface Engineering

The Department of Energy (DOE) has established the Subsurface Technology and Engineering Research, Development, and Demonstration (SubTER) Tech Team in order to address crosscutting grand challenges associated with the use of the subsurface for energy extraction and storage purposes. The purpose of this RFI is to seek information from industry, academia, national laboratories, and other federal agency stakeholders on critical subsurface knowledge and/or technology gaps that, if filled, will enable significant improvements in our understanding of the character and behavior of the subsurface environment and improve our ability to access, predict, manipulate and monitor the subsurface. The goal of the DOE SubTER Tech Team and any potential funding opportunities that are implemented as a result of this RFI is to enhance efficient and safe use of the subsurface for a growing range of uses, including energy production, CO2 storage and waste-water disposal while promoting safe environmental management practices. Deadline 23 May. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Engineering researchers help Tucson plan for drier days ahead

With support from the National Science Foundation, University of Arizona civil engineer, Kevin Lansey, and his colleagues are working to redesign Tucson's water supply infrastructure to help government planners and facility managers meet the growing water demands, while using less energy and improving water quality. Lansey's research group is developing computer models that integrate water and wastewater infrastructures, and can evaluate various system configurations in the face of complex, competing objectives and uncertainty. Read the full article here.


(TOP) ~ Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee

The U.S. Department of Energy is soliciting nominations for candidates to fill vacancies on the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, which advises the DOE and USDA with respect to the Biomass R&D Initiative and priority technical biomass R&D needs and makes written recommendations to the Biomass R&D Board. Deadline 30 August. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Parched: A New Dust Bowl Forms in the Heartland

Four years into a mean, hot drought that shows no sign of relenting, a new Dust Bowl is indeed engulfing the same region that was the geographic heart of the original. The undulating frontier where Kansas, Colorado, and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma converge is as dry as toast. The National Weather Service, measuring rain over 42 months, reports that parts of all five states have had less rain than what fell during a similar period in the 1930s. Read the full article here.


(TOP) ~ Aquaponics Revives an Ancient Farming Technique to Feed the World

Urban Organics is a Minnesota-based farm that combines plant cultivation and fish farming, also known as aquaponics. Fruits and vegetables are grown in water reservoirs that also house fish. The fish waste fertilizes the plants, and they, in turn, clean and filter the water. This symbiosis is an ideal example of the type of closed-loop, waste-free sustainability championed by green advocates; there are virtually no unusable byproducts, and there’s little you need to add to the system to keep it going. Read the full article here.

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ USDA Appropriations

This week both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees released their Fiscal Year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The House bill provides $2.65 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is approximately equal to the fiscal year 2014 enacted funding level. This funding will support research to help mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, and improve food safety and water quality. The funding will also support responsible investments in the nation’s land-grant colleges and universities. The Senate bill provides $1.139 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, which is $17 million above fiscal year 2014 and makes critical investments in agricultural research across the country. It also provides $1.292 billion for National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which is $15 million above fiscal year 2014.  This amount includes $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, $244 million for Hatch Act and $300 million for Smith-Lever funding. See the House bill here and the Senate bill here.


(TOP) ~ WWDA conference report

The Conference Report to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), was filed in the House of Representatives on May 15. The House and Senate conferees reached agreement on a final measure last week, and now both Houses of Congress must approve the Conference Report in order to send it to the President to be signed into law. The bill is important to American agriculture because it authorizes repair and construction on locks and dams that ship many of the country's food products. “This measure will strengthen our Nation’s transportation network, keep America competitive in the global marketplace, and reform and streamline the way we move forward with improvements to our ports, locks, dams, and other water resources infrastructure,” says House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R, PA-9). Read the press release here.


(TOP) ~ Office of Science and Technology Policy Internship Program

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is currently accepting applications for its Fall 2014 Policy Internship Program. Interns are accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall), which each last no more than 90 days. While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience, and network opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena. Students who are U.S. citizens and who will be actively enrolled during the Fall 2014 semester are welcome to apply. Deadline 20 June. Learn more here.

Sources: USDA; NSF; DOE; Newsweek; Bloomberg; Thomson Reuters Foundation; International Food Policy Research Institute; National Geographic; US Compost Council

Vision: The Societies Washington, DC Science Policy Office (SPO) will advocate the importance and value of the agronomic, crop and soil sciences in developing national science policy and ensuring the necessary public-sector investment in the continued health of the environment for the well being of humanity. The SPO will assimilate, interpret, and disseminate in a timely manner to Society members information about relevant agricultural, natural resources and environmental legislation, rules and regulations under consideration by Congress and the Administration.

This page of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA web site will highlight current news items relevant to Science Policy. It is not an endorsement of any position.