Auburn University is one of three universities that share a $28 million grant award from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, to research the causes and conditions of challenges facing rural areas To set up a rural participatory institute.
The Auburn University project is an interdisciplinary effort involving the College of Agriculture, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, and the McCreary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security.
“This project will allow agricultural researchers to leverage manufacturing and cyber security expertise in engineering to advance some of Alabama’s most important agricultural and natural resource sectors,” said Paul Patterson, dean of the Auburn College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. will allow.”
“This is a great opportunity for the two founding colleges at Auburn University to deepen their collaborative work to advance Alabama’s economy. In addition, faculty members in agricultural economics and rural sociology will investigate alternative ventures that can benefit the agricultural sector.” and provide additional growth potential for rural Alabama.
Auburn’s portion of the grant—$9.3 million—is for a four-year term. Others to have received funding include the University of Vermont and the University of Wisconsin.
“As part of the land-grant mission to improve the lives of the people of our state, this institution brings together the best of both of our colleges,” said Steve Taylor, interim dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Previously served as Associate Dean for Research for the College and as Head of the Department of Biosystems Engineering. “On this 150th anniversary of our two colleges at Auburn, it is only fitting that we boldly move forward together through this partnership.”
Auburn’s project aims to leverage modern technologies to advance rural Alabama through poultry production and forest products, said professor Oladiran Fasina, department head and alumnus of the Department of Agriculture’s Department of Biosystems Engineering. Fasina is also a co-principal investigator for the project along with Greg Harris, professor and chair of the School of Engineering’s Industrial and Systems Engineering Department.
Other principal investigators include Bill Dozier, Professor and Head, Department of Poultry Science; Michael Taylor, Associate Professor and ALFA Distinguished Scholar, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology; Gregory Prudy, Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; and Mark Sachs, McCreary Institute.
Alabama, Fasina said, is a global leader in the poultry and forest products agricultural industry sectors, with the two industries contributing $43 billion to Alabama’s economy. In addition, a significant percentage of the 210,000 jobs created in the state by these two industries are in rural Alabama.
“Our inter-disciplinary approach will develop technology solutions that will help producers and processors of poultry and forest products improve their competitiveness and sustainability while addressing cyber-physical vulnerabilities due to the use/adoption of modern technologies.”
The project aims to reduce pollution of water bodies in rural Alabama by developing systems that manage and recycle waste streams from agricultural processing facilities.
“Ultimately, we will develop case studies that demonstrate new technologies and opportunities for agricultural and forest production in the rural South,” Fasina said. “We will develop and distribute project findings summarizing and evaluating the project’s impacts on rural Alabama to target stakeholders and the public.”
The distribution of funds for the project will be 85% research, 10% extension and 5% education.