A contribution from Yara North America will provide the University of California, Merced, with the potential to take agricultural research to a new level of innovation and improve crop yields, particularly in almonds.
Yara, known for its fertilizers, crop nutrition programs and technologies to increase yields, improve product quality and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural practices, has established the Yara North America Almond Scholarship and Fellowship Fund to help support a three-year graduate fellowship and scholarships to two undergraduate students each year for three years. Areas of research may include soil fertility, plant nutrition, and water- and nutrient-use efficiency across disciplines.
“This generous contribution from Yara North America allows UC Merced to expand on the outstanding agriculture-related research our faculty members and students are already conducting,” Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations Kyle Hoffman said. “It will give more students the opportunity to discover solutions to the agriculture industry’s most pressing questions.”
Yara has worked with farmers in North America for 70 years, but this is its first project to support students and research at a California university. The company entered into a similar collaboration this summer with University of Florida to encourage innovation to improve citrus crop quality and quantity. Yara believes that improving knowledge is key to increasing farmers’ profitability while protecting the environment.
Yara is exploring the opportunities and challenges facing California agriculture, and almonds specifically. The company leveraged its strong relationship with the Almond Board of California to find the ideal research university partner.
As the only research university situated in the center of California’s San Joaquin Valley, and with the Almond Board’s recommendation, UC Merced was an ideal match for Yara’s goals.
“Our goal is to utilize the university’s innovation methods to encourage the next generation of researchers to look at new ways to examine agricultural processes,” said Gary Vogen, Yara North America’s vice president of corporate affairs. “We are combining resources to develop creative solutions to issues surrounding agriculture, such as conserving water, increasing crop health and yield, and improving the environment.”
Numerous areas of faculty research at UC Merced are already significantly benefiting agriculture, including allied industries such as food processing. For example, UC Merced scientists at the Sierra Nevada Research Institute are researching methods of more accurate forecasting and measurement of water supply in the Sierra watersheds and in the groundwater aquifers of the Central Valley, and others are using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to monitor soil and crop conditions.
UC Merced is in the final stages of the scholarship and fellowship selection process and expects research to begin in the spring semester.