Jun 10, 2020
Idaho awards grants for PVY, soil health, dehy potato export studies

Interest in the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s annual specialty crop program was up considerably this year compared with last year.

ISDA has announced it will award a total of $1.8 million this year to 17 different projects that aim to benefit specialty crop growers in Idaho.

The money will be used to promote, market and conduct research for the state’s potato, dry bean, wine grape, onion, cherry, apple, hops and nursery industries.

ISDA awards money each year through its specialty crop block grant program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This year’s grants are still subject to USDA approval, which is expected later this summer.

ISDA received a total of 29 applications for its specialty crop block grant program this year, more than double the 15 applications it received last year. Combined, this year’s applications sought a total of $3.7 million, much more than the $2 million in total funding sought last year.

Among them:

Boise State University will receive a $107,000 grant for a project that will measure E. coli in irrigation canals in an effort to help Idaho specialty crop growers comply with FDA’s Produce Safety Rule.

The University of Idaho will receive a $139,000 grant to develop sophisticated disease surveillance methods to safeguard potato soil health in Idaho. Potatoes are the No. 1 crop in Idaho in terms of total farm-gate receipts and Idaho is the nation’s top potato-producing state.

According to the application for that grant, pathogens harmful to potatoes are a constant threat to spuds and the management of soil-borne diseases can account for more than 10% of potato farmers’ production costs.

The Idaho Potato Commission was awarded a $130,000 grant to help establish retail sampling programs in the United Kingdom. The programs are designed to increase dehydrated potato exports to the U.K.

According to the application for that grant, “Sampling and other marketing programs and activities will be developed to increase consumer awareness of the dehydrated products coming from Idaho … The dehydrated product coming out of Idaho is very different from the local dehydrated flakes produced in the U.K. It is the IPC’s belief that through sampling events, we can change consumers’ perception of dehydrated mashed potatoes and increase consumption of Idaho products.”

Idaho State University was awarded a $98,000 grant to conduct field trials for an automated early season potato virus Y (PVY) detection system. ISU researchers will use unmanned aircraft systems equipped with a specialized sensor to detect and map individual PVY infected plants. The ultimate goal is to develop a low-cost solution for growers to rapidly detect and mitigate for PVY.

— Idaho Farm Bureau Federation






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