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Rapid Agricultural Response Fund

To find a new way to problem solve in the 21st century, in 1998 the Minnesota Legislature worked with the state's agricultural leaders to create resources to tackle emerging agrilcultural challanges. The result was the Rapid Agricultural Response Fund (RARF). Since that beginning it has helped develop research answers to some of the most puzzling and unpredictable problems facing our farmers.

Below you will find overviews of the most recent RARF projects including background information, project objectives, and progress updates when available.

With funding from the MAES Rapid Ag Response Fund, University of Minnesota researchers at the Minnesota Center for Prion Research (MNPRO) have developed a novel approach to field testing chronic wasting disease (CWD). The team confirmed their findings in southeast Minnesota the week of March 8, 2021, making them the first-ever scientists to successfully deploy a CWD field test. Read more about this research discovery. 

Over the last two years, researchers at the UMN have been working with several Minnesota agencies to facilitate surveillance and enhance our understanding of the risk for CWD spreading — a key concern for Minnesota legislators. In Minnesota, these partners include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH), Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, several tribal natural resources agencies around the state and Extension specialists.

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers, extension specialists and stakeholders is assembled to conduct an in-depth evaluation of alternatives to traditional nitrogen fertilizer for corn production. In particular, they will develop best practices for controlled release fertilizers and incorporate those into the    University of Minnesota N guidelines, which are widely used by farmers.

A team of UMN researchers are working to determine the mechanisms leading to the decline in fertility of aging turkey breeders, and if reducing inflammation will reduce this decline. They hypothesize that improved fertility will result in more turkeys hatched per hen at a lower cost allowing for fewer hens while conserving local resources.

Anup Kollanoor Johny and his team our building on their recent studies that indicate turkey-specific lytic DNA bacteriophages inhibit drug-resistant Salmonella on turkey skin. With this RARF project they aim to use existing samples for in-depth multi-omics analyses, specifically studying and integrating Salmonella’s phage resistance, to develop robust and next-generation science-powered bacteriophage selection toolkits against Salmonella.

Erin Cortus and her partners are working to develop a greenhouse gas measurement approach for livestock farms based on a mass balance of volatile solids and nitrogen – precursors to methane and nitrous oxide emissions, respectively.

Peter Larsen and David Seelig and their team are working to determine CWD prion burden, and its infectivity, in meat and on meat processing equipment used in venison processing. They will also explore prion decontamination strategies for this processing equipment. Their results will directly inform best practices to reduce or prevent the introduction of CWD prions into the human food chain.

In a bid to increase the health of dairy cows, Brian Crooker and his team will use unselected Holsteins--that represent the 1964 ancestors of contemporary Holsteins--to identify polymorphisms that contribute to a robust immune system. Prevalence of beneficial and detrimental polymorphisms in the DNA of contemporary Holsteins will be determined and the information used to identify polymorphisms to be included in gene-assisted selection strategies designed to strengthen immune function and increase mastitis resistance.

Brian Steffenson and his team are working to characterize the genetic architecture of bacterial leaf streak (BLS) resistance in five diverse barley accessions and develop, as quickly as possible, barley varieties that are resistant to BLS, thereby ameliorating the losses due to this important disease.

Tim Griffis and his team are conducting research on the best ways to use dicamba herbicides to control weeds in Minnesota soybean crops. Their work will help address environmental concerns related to dicamba drift in Minnesota and the US corn belt.