MSU crop and soil sciences project earns USDA Secretary’s Honor Award

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MSU AgBioResearch, Dave DouchesA sustainable agriculture project led by MSU AgBioResearch scientist David Douches recently earned a 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary’s Honor Award. The award was received in the category, “Helping America promote sustainable agricultural production and biotechnology exports as America works to increase food security.”

The honored project (actually three projects in one), the “Barley, Wheat, Potato and Tomato Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP),” involves a group of researchers and educators from land-grant universities, government agencies and industry groups working together to identify genetic variations in those crops. Discoveries that can help the plants resist disease, produce higher yields and make more efficient use of nutrients are already helping plant breeders develop more sustainable crop varieties.

“The award is a reflection of the great team of post-docs, technical staff and students that work together and conduct research in the project,” said Douches, who heads the MSU potato breeding and genetics program in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “It also honors my MSU colleagues who work to breed disease- and insect-resistant potato varieties.”

Douches heads the potato and tomato part of the CAP, known as SolCAP.  C. Robin Buell, also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist and a professor in the MSU Department of Plant Biology, is another key player in the MSU CAP research. Douches and Buell collaborate on this project with colleagues at the Ohio State University, Cornell University, the University of California -Davis and Oregon State University.

“Michigan State University is a leader in crop science research,” said James Kells, chair of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “This prestigious award reflects the successful efforts of our outstanding researchers. It also reflects how a cooperative effort between universities, government and industry can succeed in developing sustainable crop varieties.”

Designed to recognize exceptional leadership, contributions or public service by individuals or groups who support the goals of the USDA, the USDA Secretary’s Honor Awards are among the most prestigious awards presented by the secretary of agriculture.

Picture: MSU AgBioResearch scientist, Dave Douches

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