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USDA Technology Transfer Report Showcases Solutions to Address Key Issues in Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its Technology Transfer Report, which features innovations scientists and researchers have developed to solve problems for farmers, ranchers, and foresters. In 2018, USDA laboratories generated 320 new inventions, along with 471 licenses, 120 patent applications, and 67 actual patents.

“Long before anyone ever coined the modern-day phrase of ‘technology transfer,’ it was part of the culture at USDA to deliver solutions to the people of America,” Secretary Sonny Perdue says. “Today, USDA is still helping to drive technological innovation – both on the farm and off.”

Every dollar invested in agricultural research, studies show, returns $20 to the economy.

“Innovations produced by USDA scientists and through public-private partnerships add value to American agriculture and the U.S. economy, create jobs, and help American producers compete in the global marketplace,” Perdue says.

The report includes technology-transfer activities for Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Forest Service (FS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD).

Below are 10 innovations highlighted in the report along with the page numbers of where more detailed information can be found on each.

  1. A new bio-based insect repellent that uses fatty acids derived from coconut oil to protect cattle against blood-sucking insects that cost the industry more than $2.4 billion annually. (p. 117)
  2. A system that removes nitrate from contaminated water and recycles it for reuse as fertilizer. (p. 131)
  3. A test strip for major foodborne pathogens that reduces the testing time from 24 to 72 hours to around 30 minutes. This allows food to be tested more often at less expense. (p. 384)
  4. A vaccine against Streptococcus suis that may markedly improve the health and welfare of pigs while reducing the use of antibiotics. (p. 123)
  5. The use of gene editing as a tool to engineer an African swine fever vaccine. (p. 123)
  6. The discovery of asprosin, which is a hormone that controls the desire to eat. This innovation could potentially be a tool in preventing and treating obesity and type 2 diabetes. (p. 110)
  7. A set of time-series maps that can help forest resource managers plan strategically for how changing climate might affect the geographic distribution of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. (p. 288)
  8. A technique that detects the Zika virus in mosquitoes by simply shining a special beam of light on a whole mosquito for less than three seconds – an approach that is 18 times faster and 110 times cheaper than the current alternative. (p. 117)
  9. An online tool, Adapt-N, that provides small- to large-scale corn growers in 26 states with low-cost soil carbon assessment and greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting capabilities. (p. 394)
  10. The development of the first U.S. hard-white waxy high-yielding winter wheat. This can be used to develop novel whole grain products and is a more efficient substrate for ethanol production. (p. 141)
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