Global Food Security and Hunger

Ongoing research programs in the agronomic crops focus area will address the use of new varieties, improved cultural practices, precision agriculture and integrated pest management.   New programs will be put in place to develop crops and crop products enhanced though biotechnology.  A new emphasis will be placed on conducting research and transferring technology in emerging agribusiness areas, such as increasing peanut production in South Carolina, and insect pest management for genetically modified crops as well as conventional crops. Research programs will focus on field crops which have experienced substantial production increases in the state, including, wheat, cotton, peanuts and soybeans.           
Wheat: Developing high yielding, high test weight wheat populations with improved disease resistance and insect resistance levels that could lead to the release of wheat varieties or germplasm adapted to the Southeastern U.S.           
Cotton: Comparing the performance of newer cotton cultivars to older, established cultivars and assessing the differences in yield, maturity and fiber quality among newly developed transgenic siblings and their recurrent parents.          
Peanuts: Improving the economic and environmental sustainability of peanut crop management systems.         
Soybeans: Identifying novel gene targets for improvement of stress responses in soybeans. Research will work to determine the effects of narrow versus wide row soybean production systems on yield losses due to Columbia Lance and soybean cyst nematodes, and developing damage thresholds.  Another program will be developing high yielding soybean cultivars, both conventional and glyphosate tolerant, adapted to S.C. and other areas of the Southeast.  Development work will also take place on cultivars and/or germplasm with resistance/tolerance to soybean cyst and the Columbia lance nematodes.      
Research will continue on switchgrass as a potential source of bio-fuel, after preliminary data indicate that it could become one of the most economical and environmentally friendly crops produced on the state’s Coastal Plain.   There is a coordinated research effort underway to support improvement in all field crops. This will include the development of research data sets centered on quantifying crop yields, enhancement input requirements, soil quality improvement and water quality protection resulting from the use of new cropping practices.  There will be work in precision farming technologies, transgenic varieties and cropping systems that will attempt to integrate the three.