State-funded research will manage threats to Minnesota ag and natural resources

The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) has awarded funding to eleven new research projects to identify and manage invasive species threats, in the continued effort to protect Minnesota agriculture and natural resources. The MITPPC is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). The funding for the eleven projects totals more than $4.5 million and was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) in the 2015 legislative session.

"Our natural resources and agricultural industries are at the core of Minnesota’s vibrant economy and high quality of life that we enjoy. The commitment of this funding by the legislature means we in CFANS will continue to find solutions to changing threats to our woods, lakes, and food crops,” says CFANS Dean Brian Buhr.

The projects, which were recently selected through an RFP process and will be led by the MITPPC, will focus on identifying challenges to agriculture and natural resources in Minnesota. Some focus areas include decreasing the environmental impacts of soybean aphid management and implementing biological control of garlic mustard, to strategies to preserve valuable ash from emerald ash borer to detection tools and treatment options for oak wilt. Other projects examine reed canarygrass management, European gypsy moth, soybean sudden death, weather and climate impact on woody invaders such as European buckthorn, invasive spotted wing drosophila, and mountain pine beetle risks.

“We’re thankful to the Minnesota Legislature and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund for funding this important research,” says Robert Venette, Director of the MITPPC. “The goal of the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center is to prevent and minimize the threats posed by terrestrial invasive plants, weeds and other pests to our state and the eleven projects that have been funded are important steps forward in protecting Minnesota.”

These projects will rely on collaboration between CFANS and several organizations including the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Minnesota Department of Transportation; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; U.S. Department of Agriculture-APHIS and TAG; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection; U.S. Forest Service; Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science; University of Nebraska; University of Wisconsin, Madison; Minnesota Zoo; The Nature Conservancy; Johns Hopkins University; The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International; Wheaton College Biological Field Station; and the University of Alberta.

To learn more about these research projects, visit the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center.

Soybean aphids
Soybean aphid management is one focus area of recent MITPPC funding.