USDA Grants to Strengthen Innovation in Agriculture

12/21/2013 7:00 AM

WASHINGTON — The USDA announced more than $18 million in grants to small businesses last week to conduct research that will lead to technological innovations in the agriculture industry.

The awards were made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Innovative agricultural research has helped make agriculture one of the two most productive industries in the U.S. economy since 1980,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “but we need a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed if we are to sustain it.”

USDA made the grants through the Small Business Innovation Research program. Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, which may be followed by Phase II research and development projects.

Phase I grants are limited to $100,000 and a duration of eight months, while Phase II grants are limited to $450,000 and a duration of 24 months. About half of Phase I projects continue on to Phase II.

In fiscal year 2013, USDA awarded nearly $5.9 million in Phase I grants and more than $12.4 million in Phase II grants.

Phase I awards included:

Taber International, Chardon, Ohio, $80,250 — renewable energy and energy system automation for energy plus farm.

Ripple Rock Fish Farms, Frazeysburg, Ohio, $99,982 — researchig economic feasibility of the mixed-cell raceway, providing a way for small farms to enter the aquaculture industry.

RSI Systems, Frederick, Md., $100,000 — automated inspection and coding of cases on produce packaging lines.

NanoSonic Inc., Pembroke, Va., $100,000 — solar-powered colony health monitoring system for pollinators.

Plant Advancements, West Kingston, R.I., $100,000 — hybrid systems for gene confinement and breeding of perennial plants used for biofuels.

i2 Air Fluid Innovation Inc., Huntington Station, N.Y., $58,883 — using elemental iodine vapor bubbles in a liquid medium to inactivate mastitis pathogens on cow teat surfaces.

Actuated Medical Inc., Bellefonte, Pa., $100,000 — active needle technology for cattle to reduce insertion force, pain and meat loss from injection scarring while facilitating vascular access.

Precision Combustion Inc., North Haven, Conn., $99,686 — compact, efficient and economic soil steam disinfestation.

Giner Inc., Newton, Mass., $99,994 — Electrochemical, multigas air quality monitor.

Reactive Innovations LLC, Westford, Mass., $99,999 — wide-area hydrogen sulfide monitoring system for agricultural enterprises.

Pliant Energy Systems LLC, Brooklyn, N.Y., $100,000 — self-powered pump to extract water from a flowing water source.

Micronic Technologies, Sterling, Va., $99,357 — innovative removal of nitrate and nitrates from contaminated well water.

Abraxis LLC, Warminster, Pa., $100,000 — development of immunoreagents and test kits for the detection of E. coli non-O157 STEC.

Sonsight Inc., Accokeek, Md., $100,000 — low-cost, high-energy extended rotor turbine.

Intralytix Inc., Baltimore, Md., $99,991 — bacteriophages for reducing Bibrio tubiashii associated mortality of shellfish.

Giner Inc., Newton, Mass., $99,999 — on-board electrochemical oxygen generator for live shipments of wild seafood and aquaculture products.

United Environment and Energy LLC, Horseheads, N.Y., $80,000 — one-step biobased green gasoline production from biodiesel plant waste glycerol.

Phase II awards included:

MetroCrops LLC, Norwalk, Conn., $448,000 — precision control of UV irradiance and ambient conditions to optimize the nutritional content, quality and consistency of indoor grown lettuce.

Firsthand Foods LLC, Durham, N.C., $377,000 — Farmhand Foods: an innovative food hub creating market access for small and midsize livestock producers.

AgSquared LLC, Washington, D.C., $449,967 — improving harvest data capture, use, reporting and analysis through integrated software tools for specialty crop producers.

WISER Systems Inc., Raleigh, N.C., $450,000 — Wireless Sensor track-and-trace: autonomous, cost-effective, item-level food safety from field to fork.

Medigen Inc., Frederick, Md., $395,605 — polyvalent vaccines to protect poultry from avian influenza.

Learnimation LLC, Brooklyn, N.Y., $449,995 — math and science problem solving intervention for rural communities.

LIG Sciences Inc., Export, Pa., $449,991 — slow release nontoxic antifouling additives for coatings used in aquaculture.

Pemaquid Mussel Farms LLC, Damariscotta, Maine, $449,000 — development of a modular submersible mussel raft for use in semi-exposed Maine waters subject to drift ice.

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