CAES Research Portfolio Sets Record, Reaches Nearly $40M

By Lydian Bernhardt / 09/08/2023 Research and Economic Development, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has grown its research portfolio to nearly $40 million. In addition to laboratory-based research, the college has entered the “precision agriculture” area, in which technology and data-help growers, ranchers and operators save time and money.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 8, 2023) – Research funding in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University reached an unprecedented $39.5 million this year, buoyed by major projects funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association.

This year’s gain, an increase of more than $5 million from 2021-22, accounts for nearly one third of the university’s overall $147 million research portfolio. This is the fourth year research funding has climbed in the college, said Dean Mohamed Ahmedna.

“The college is moving into digital, or “precision,” techniques, an emerging area that will play a pivotal role in the future of U.S. agriculture,” Ahmedna said. “This is one of our research priorities and will be a boost to our state’s $103 billion economic enterprise.”

Faculty and staff secured nearly 100 grants and contracts in 2022-23, including these key projects:

  • An $18.1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grantto support a “NEXTGEN” program to increase participation of underrepresented minority students in food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences disciplines;
  • Participating in two major projects to reduce greenhouse gases and improve climate-resilient agriculture production as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $2.8 billion Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program;
  • A $2.3 million grant, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from the American Heart Association to improve maternal health outcomes among women who are more likely to experience pregnancy complications because of poor heart health.

“The upward competitive grant funding trend allows our agricultural research activity to support a new generation of empowered small farmers contributing to thriving rural communities. For instance, we envision a future of climate-resilient agriculture in rural North Carolina,” said Gregory Goins, Ph.D., CAES associate dean for research.

In addition, the college is expanding its researching and testing of “precision agriculture” techniques, a term which refers to the application of modern information technologies to provide, process and analyze data to operators to inform their practice.

Precision dairy technology, for example, such as the University Dairy’s new Automated Milking System, assists producers in adjusting to the needs of individual animals and conditions, saving unnecessary expense and resources, and "personalizing” animal care. Each cow is monitored and becomes uniquely “known” to the system, allowing dairy operators to become aware of problems – and solve them – mmore quickly. 

Drone data-gathering technology assists growers as well, providing area-specific soil and plant information, allowing each plant to receive “individualized” attention.

“This agriculture fits the lifestyle of the digital age,” Goins said. “Our research will help make digital agriculture translatable to the small farmer and help youth, who are so well-versed in this type of technology, participate in agriculture.”

CAES research funding graph showing annual funding trends from fiscal year 2018 to 2023

Media Contact Information: llbernhardt@ncat.edu

All News, College News