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Plant Production and Protection - Engineering


The objective of this topic area is to examine means of enhance crop production by reducing the impact of harmful agents and developing effective crop production systems that are economically and environmentally sound. Projects that promote energy conservation or efficiency are strongly encouraged. Examples of appropriate subtopics for research applications from small businesses include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Improved crop production methods or strategies–Enhance the efficiency of crop production by utilizing innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting crop plants, including optimization of inputs and reduction of environmental impacts by implementing the use of precision farming technology, sensors, information technology, and remote sensing.
  2. Plant protection–Reduce the impact of plant pathogens, insect pests and competing vegetation on crop plants by developing efficient and environmentally safe pesticide and herbicide usage equipment, especially technology to monitor and manage plant disease, insect pests, or abiotic stress at the earliest stages of their manifestations.
  3. Energy conservation–Develop crop management systems, farm and greenhouse structures, and waste utilization strategies that promote energy conservation and efficiency, including the development of technology for the economic use of alternative/renewable energy resources.

Special Priority Research Areas for FY 2012:  SBIR is strongly encouraging the submission of applications focusing on the following problem areas.  Additional consideration will be given to applications addressing the development of products, processes, and services for US production of specialty crops (fruits, nuts, vegetables, nursery, and greenhouse crops):

1.      Improved chemical application technologythat increases efficacy, worker safety, and reduces off-target drift of applied chemicals.

2.      High resolution spatial and temporal monitoringof specialty crops using sensors and sensor networks (for example, temperature, humidity, drought stress, pest damage, and disease).

3.      Post-harvest handling of specialty crops, including handling to maintain quality and reduce food safety issues, reducing waste streams from post-harvest handling, selection for quality and consumer preference.

4.      Reduction of manual labor in specialty crop production, harvesting, and post-harvest handling through technology to improve the competitiveness of US specialty crop production.

5.      Commercial floriculture production technology to improve the competitiveness of U.S. flowering potted plant, bedding plant, and cut flower production, seasonal crops, annuals, and perennials.

6.      Planting, production, harvesting, and post-harvest handling technologytargeting the sustainable production of the following biomass feedstock crop groups: perennial grasses, energycane, sorghum, and oil seed crops (not including algae, see Other Key Information below).

7.      Technology to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. Organic agriculture and horticulture.

Other Key Information

  •     All Phase I applications should give the reviewing community a brief vision of where the PD expects the project to be at the end of Phase II (entering Phase III commercialization).
  •     Applications that deal with irrigation and related technology should be sent to the 8.4 Soil and Water Resources topic area.
  •     Applications that deal with the feedstock logistics of woody biomass (including short rotation crops like willow and poplar) should be submitted to the 8.1 Forest and Related Resources topic area.
  •     Applications that deal with the production of algae for biofuel production should be submitted to the 8.7 Aquaculture topic area.
  •    Applications exceeding the budget limitation or exceeding the page limit or not meeting the formatting requirements will be excluded from NIFA review.
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