Three new grants for cross-disciplinary research

The AgCenter was recently awarded three research grants from The Earth Institute’s Cross-Cutting Initiative program, which awards funds for cross-disciplinary research in sustainable development.

One grant will conduct an integrated modeling evaluation of the interacting impacts of agricultural development and climate change on food security, poverty, and the environment in rural villages in Malawi and Kenya.  By taking an approach that integrates climate, crop, ecosystem, and economic models, the research will assess the potential for agricultural development to reduce smallholder households’ vulnerability to climate change, as well as the potential for development programs to mitigate or increase net greenhouse gas emissions from African agriculture. The research will evaluate the role that development may play in ameliorating these climate change impacts.

Another new grant will look at farmers’ adoption of new technologies, specifically regarding SoilDoc, a new tool that the AgCenter is developing that will identify soil constraints on farms and provide farmers with targeted nutrient recommends in real time. This research will look at whether farmers’ improved access to information about their soils will lead to changes in behavior and the effects of such behavior changes. The project will seek answers to a number of critical questions: Who can improved soil information help? What complementary investments are required for SoilDoc to succeed?

Finally, a third project, which will be conducted in collaboration with the Modi Lab and the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, will develop a new technology that will use ingredients available in the environment – nitrogen from the air, energy from the sun, and water — to produce synthetic nitrogen fertilizer on site. Such a change from highly centralized production could greatly benefit small farmers, particularly in remote locations.


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