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RTI part of NSF-funded “Ag Tech Corridor” project serving 42 counties in North Carolina

The project will develop a plan for accelerating the delivery of information and technology to North Carolina farmers, especially new farmers, underserved farmers, and those with small acreage

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, and nine partners will use a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Regional Innovation Engines award to develop a plan for a 42-county “Agricultural Technology (Ag Tech) Corridor” to share information and technology faster and more broadly across North Carolina.

The effort, called the Climate-Responsive Opportunities in Plant Science (CROPS) project led by NC Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), will develop an ecosystem-wide plan to enable farmers expanded access to research and technological innovation typically concentrated in the state’s urban areas of the Triad and Triangle. 

CROPS will bring together researchers from six North Carolina-based universities: NC A&T, Duke University, East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University. County agents and specialists with N.C. Cooperative Extension and representatives of the N.C. Biotechnology Center and the N.C. Community College System are also partners on the project.

“New farmers, underserved farmers and those with small-scale acreage need information to develop farm management practices to implement methods that protect the environment, produce the highest quality food and provide a reliable family income,” said Gregory Goins, Ph.D., associate dean for research in the NC A&T College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and CROPS Principal Investigator said. “Our team seeks to develop a plan to bring information from industry to farmer, particularly in underserved areas, to help them mitigate climate impacts, lower the barriers to market entry that they face, and boost the agricultural sector’s economic output.”

Through a mix of educational programming, workforce development activities and startup grant funding, the project will provide educational programs that deliver up-to-date information on topics such as farming technologies, agricultural business management, and natural resource conservation.

“We are eager to help foster an inclusive agricultural sector and offer practical, innovative solutions that address the needs of farmers in North Carolina through CROPS,” said Amanda Rose, Agri-Food Systems Lead at RTI. “RTI’s expertise in agricultural innovation and place-based economic development align closely with this effort. We are proud to join this partner coalition that is committed to delivering research-to-impact results with the farmers that matter greatly to our state’s economy and our rural communities.”

With a potential NSF investment of nearly $1.6 billion over the next decade, NSF Engines represent one of the single largest broad investments in place-based research and development in U.S. history — uniquely placing science and technology leadership as the central driver for regional economic competitiveness.

The project will begin this spring with listening sessions across the state.

Learn more about CROPS (via NC A&T)

Learn more about the NSF Engines Portfolio