The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $450,000 to four Purdue University projects designed to grow Indiana’s specialty crop sector. The funding was provided by the United State Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
The ISDA says the grants are available to nonprofit and for-profit organizations, governments and public or private colleges and universities for up to a three-year term. The program funds specialty crop research, education and market development, and projects must benefit the entire industry.
According to the ISDA, specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops.
“Specialty crops are big business for Indiana,” said Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch. “Our state grows over 30 types of specialty crops and ranks as a top five producer in the nation in many crops like melons, pumpkins, tomatoes and mint. I look forward to seeing the industry grow from the research funded by these grants.”
The organizations that have been awarded funding for the 2021-2024 grant cycle are:
- Purdue University Department of Entomology – Conservation of Indiana Specialty Crop Pollinators, Award: $119,653
Purdue University entomologists will partner with growers across the state to evaluate pollination services provided by native pollinators to Indiana’s leading specialty crops.
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – Increasing Productivity & Consumer Accessibility of Hydroponically Grown Organic Lettuce in Indiana, Award: $143,391
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture – Improve Drip Irrigation Management for Vegetable and Melon Production in Indiana, Award: $139,384
- Purdue University Extension – Determining the Suitability of Materials for Use as a Postharvest Food Contact Surface, Award: $57,437
“This funding from USDA is critical to advancing our specialty crop sector and based on this year’s grantees, many different research areas will be impacted,” said Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler. “Everything from hydroponics to pollinators and from drip irrigation to food safety, these awards will go far in enhancing our Hoosier specialty crop industry.”
The ISDA says it was awarded two separate grants from the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in 2021. A second round of grants is expected to be awarded in the spring.