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April 17, 2017
28 Virginia Projects Receive Nearly $370,000 for Agricultural Research
Contact: Dawn Eischen, 804.786.1904

The Virginia Agricultural Council (VAC) has awarded nearly $370,000 from the Virginia Agricultural Foundation Fund (VAFF) to 28 projects for agricultural research. Fund recipients received awards of up to $24,000 for projects focused on crops, livestock, insects, plant and animal diseases, turf grass, fertilizer and the development of research test plots.  

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services receives assessments on certain agricultural supplies such as lime, fertilizer, feed and motor fuel used for agricultural purposes, and transfers a percentage of monies received to the VAFF pursuant to 302§ 3.2-2905. Assessments received on lawn and turf sales go into a separate VAFF account, called the Seed Fund, and the VAC must award to projects involving lawn and turf research. 
In 1966, the Virginia General Assembly established the VAC to provide financial assistance and support for agricultural research, education and services. Its purpose is to find new uses for agricultural products, to develop new markets for such products and to promote more efficient and economical methods of agricultural production.

The VAC accepts requests for financial assistance from any organized group within or serving Virginia’s agriculture industry and awards grants annually based on funding available and VAC’s determination of the project’s importance to Virginia’s agricultural economy. Recipients can include agricultural suppliers, farmers, marketers, Virginia Cooperative Extension centers, colleges and universities. The VAC will call for new research proposals to be submitted by November 15, 2017 for 2018-2019 funding. Interested parties may contact Larry Harris, Executive Director, at or 804.786.3532. 

The following projects received funding for 2017-2018:

Project Name Recipient Award Amount
Increasing the economic value of brewer’s spent grain by producing high-protein and high-fiber products to support animal production in Virginia Dr. Haibo Huang $24,000
Increasing profitability for Virginia’s double crop wheat-soybean system David Holhouser $20,093
Rapid estimation of water, nutrient and pesticide needs using unmanned aerial vehicles for reduced inputs David McCall $20,000
Understanding nitrogen fate to increase profitability in ornamental container-grown plant production Dr. Jim Owen $18,790
Delivering probiotics to chicken embryos to enhance post-hatch performance and immunity Dr. Rami Dalloul $18,000
Management of spreading troublesome weeds in Bermuda grass and tall fescue turf Jeffrey Derr $16,624
Pre-bloom leaf thinning to increase grape aromas and aid bunch rot management Tony Wolf $16,254
Identification and testing of novel, locally isolated biopesticides for fire blight control in Virginia Dr. Boris Vinatzer $16,000
Establishing the efficacy of faecalibacterium prausnitzii as a probiotic to enhance pre-weaning health, growth and performance of beef calves Dr. Vitor Mercadante $15,650
Alternative fencing and watering systems to enhance stream exclusion and grazing management Matthew Booher $15,578
Mastitis in the developing bovine mammary gland Dr. R. Michael Akers $15,000
Comparisons of exceptional quality biosolids and inorganic fertilizer on carbon and nitrogen dynamics and turfgrass production and quality Gregory Evanylo $15,000
Improving honey bee colony health: Assessing the role of honey bee gut microbiota in mediating pesticide effects Dr. Jennifer Walke $13,497
Release public, roundup ready soybean varieties Dr. Bo Zhang $12,000
English cucumber as an alternative cash crop Dr. Kedong Da $11,800
Early detection of soilborne diseases of peanut using multispectral and infrared sensor technology Dr. David Langston $10,997
Enhancing opportunities for pasture-based beef production research at Virginia Tech Dr. Robin White $10,008
Utilizing oocyte reconstruction to improve the heat tolerance of dairy cattle Dr. Michelle Rhoads $10,000
Evaluation of alternative methods for the prevention and control of histomonosis (blackheads) in turkeys Dr. Michael Persia $10,000
Evaluation of higher concentrations of butyric acid in broiler diets raised without antibiotics Dr. Michael Persia $10,000
Testing a novel strategy for evaluating energy content of feed Dr. Mark Hanigan $9,959
Mitigating the effects of iron deficiency anemia in pigs fed antibiotic-free nursery diets containing elevated levels of copper and zinc Dr. Mark Estienne $9,512
Enhanced apple cider fermentation by selective light exposure Dr. Robert Williams $9,000
Determining the feeding value of corn gluten feed in fescue forage-based rations Dr. Bain Wilson $8,543
Increasing hops yield with phototherapy Justin Dick $8,000
Low-cost nutritional intervention to improve growth and fertility of replacement heifers grazing endophyte infected tall fescue Dr. Robin White $7,798
Management and cultivar effects on malt-type barley performance and end use quality in Virginia Dr. Wade Thomason $7,000
Evaluating nutrient supplements to improve strawberry fruit yield and quality Jayesh Samtani $5,410




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