Yara North America, a global company known for its fertilizers, is giving UC Merced $60,000 to fund a graduate fellowship and two undergraduate scholarships for research in the almond industry.
The Yara North America Almond Scholarship and Fellowship Fund will expose the students to areas of research such as soil fertility, plant nutrition and water nutrient efficiency across disciplines, a news release from the university announced. The research will focus on almond crops.
“This generous contribution from Yara North America allows UC Merced to expand on the outstanding agriculture-related research our faculty members and students are already conducting,” Kyle Hoffman, the university’s vice chancellor for development and alumni relations, said in the news release. “It will give more students the opportunity to discover solutions to the agriculture industry’s most pressing questions.”
UC Merced is in the final selection process for the new fellowship and scholarships, and research is expected to begin in the spring semester.
Yara is known for its crop nutrition programs and technologies to increase yields and has worked with farmers in North America for 70 years.
This is the company’s first project to support students and research at a California university. Yara is looking into the opportunities and challenges facing the California almond industry. The company used its relationship with the Almond Board of California when looking for an ideal research partner.
Almonds are Merced County’s No. 2 commodity, with gross production in 2015 at more than $550 million, according to the county’s most recent crop report. Almond prices dipped a bit in 2015 from 2014 while San Joaquin Valley farmers dealt with a fifth year of unprecedented drought conditions.
“We are combining resources to develop creative solutions to issues surrounding agriculture, such as conserving water, increasing crop health and yield, and improving the environment,” said Gary Vogen, Yara North America’s vice president of corporate affairs.
Research from UC Merced faculty already has benefited the agriculture industry in sectors such as food processing. UC Merced scientists at the Sierra Nevada Research Institute also are studying methods to forecast and measure water supply in the Sierra watersheds and in Valley groundwater aquifers. Other researchers are using drones to monitor soil and crop conditions.