Ag Innovation Update-October 2017
Popcorn Pair: Smude's introduces microwave popcorn made with heart-healthy sunflower oil

Business is popping at Smude's Sunflower Oil in Pierz.

Seven years ago, Tom Smude, and his wife, Jenni, central Minnesota cattle farmers, began working with AURI to develop Minnesota's first cold-press sunflower oil manufacturing company. Now, Smude's Sunflower Oil is expanding into microwave popcorn.

The fast-growing company's newest product is made with Smude's heart-healthy sunflower oil. Tom and Jenni Smude launched Smude's Brand Microwave Popcorn in August and it's already available at major grocery store chains, including Coborn's and Lunds & Byerlys.

Elsewhere in Ag:
Turn Pollen into Low Cost Fertilizer

As the world population continues to balloon, agricultural experts puzzle over how farms will produce enough food to keep up with demand. One tactic involves boosting crop yields. Toward that end, scientists have developed a method to make a low-cost, biocompatible fertilizer with carbon dots derived from rapeseed pollen. The study, appearing in ACS Omega, found that applying the carbon dots to hydroponically cultivated lettuce promoted its growth by 50 percent.

New Grant Opportunities

AURI is pleased to share some new funding opportunities.

  • The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) is now accepting grant applications for the improvement of agricultural education across Minnesota.  Funds will be awarded in two competitive grant areas - Strategic Initiatives and Common Fund.
    MAELC will award over $235,000 between these two competitive grant programs over the next year. All grant applications must be completed online at before midnight on November 15, 2017. A second round of Strategic Initiatives grants will be due April 15, 2018.
  • The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced $1.5 million available to applicants for applied Crop Research Grants, through the Agricultural Growth Research and Innovation (AGRI) Program. The maximum grant award is $250,000 per project, which may last up to three years.

    Crop Research projects must focus on improving agricultural product quality, quantity and value. Projects must benefit Minnesota farmers and the state's economy in the next three to five years. Farmers, institutions of higher education, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, agricultural cooperatives, and agricultural businesses with research capabilities are encouraged to apply.
  • The National Institute of Food and Agriculture invites applications for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of five focus areas described in the announcement. Approximately $48.1 million may be made available to support multiple awards. Eligibility is unrestricted domestically. Applications are due Dec 8. More information regarding USDA-NIFA-SCRI-006394 is available here.

AURI Notes

Upcoming events 
  • MNwest CEO Forum & Entrepreneur Summit November 7
  • Agri-Growth Annual Meeting & Conference November 9
  • Minnesota Farm Bureau Annual Meeting November 16-18
  • Minnesota Farmers Union Annual Convention November 18-19
  • Minnesota Milk Conference & Expo November 29-30
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