Submitted to: International Symposium of Molecular Breeding of Forage Turf
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2010
Publication Date: October 8, 2010
Citation: Staub, J.E. 2010. Developing international research projects: the case of the Sino/US grass alliance. International Symposium of Molecular Breeding of Forage Turf.
Interpretive Summary: Several centers for agricultural research exist that foster efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience [e.g., Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)]. Such institutions achieve their goals through high-quality international agricultural research and various partnerships. Active programs associated with international cooperative research efforts work to: 1) increase productivity and production of healthy food; 2) conserve and enhance the sustainable use of natural resources, and; 3) promote changes that will stimulate agricultural growth. Research collaborations between such centers and USDA, ARS laboratories have resulted in research outcomes that have provided dramatic societal impacts, and, thus, provide a template for the development of new international research associations. It may be possible to establish cooperative research efforts between the United States of America (US) and China (Sino) and among Chinese institutions that will result in measurable benefits to US agricultural production and human health. Forage and turfgrass is important to agriculture in the US and China. Broad-based research initiatives have been initiated between the Forage and Range Research Laboratory (FRRL) and diverse US/Sino public and private institutions to improve animal productivity and human health. The FRRL has had successful research projects with Chinese scientists (1980-1995), primarily in the areas of germplasm collection and grass breeding (e.g., cytogenetics). More recently, discussions with specific Chinese public and private institutions in 2008 led to the organization of a formal meeting in Harbin, China, in 2009, resulting in the development of cooperation research projects between the FRRL and a diverse array of Chinese institutions in the areas of grass breeding and genetics. This narrative discusses official legal instruments that foster collaborative and the potential of such research collaborations. The intent is that these cooperative research projects would achieve mutually beneficial goals associated that would improve US agricultural productivity and development of products (germplasm) and technologies (management practices) for sustainable agricultural systems to stimulate agricultural growth and thereby allow the US grower to become more competitive in a global market by increasing productivity.
In many cases, international cooperative research projects have yielded large dividends to its research participants and cliental as outcomes have been high-impact products. For these reasons, the development of productive and long-lasting international cooperative research efforts is important to the Forage and Range Research Laboratory (FRRL) and to Utah State University (USU), Logan, Utah. Historically, the FRRL has had successful research projects with Chinese scientists (1980-1995), primarily in the areas of germplasm collection and grass breeding (e.g., cytogenetics). More recently, initial discussion with specific Chinese public and private institutions in 2008 and then a formal meeting in Harbin, China in 2009, resulted in the development of cooperative research projects between the FRRL/USU and a diverse array of Chinese institutions in the areas of grass breeding and genetics [i.e., the formation of the U.S./Sino Grass Alliance (SUSGRA)]. These interactions resulted in the initiation of graduate student training at USU and the development of Specific Cooperative Agreements (SCAs) between the FRRL and Inner Mongolia University, Northeast University, Heilongjiang Agricultural Science-Grass Institute; Nanjing Agricultural University/Institute of Botany, and Northwest A&F University for research in pasture, rangeland, and turfgrass growing environments. During 2010, additional discussions with Ningxia Eco Agriculture Technology, Ltd. (Ningxia Province), and the Xinjiang Agricultural University led to the development SCAs in the areas of grass breeding and ecology for pasture, rangeland and turf. Similar negotiations are currently occurring with institutions in Beijing, China, and the scope of the alliance is being broadened to include legume research. With the proper long-term perspectives, goals, and implementation of cutting-edge research, SUSGRA will become an important facilitator of scientific exchange leading to high-impact scientific products (i.e., germplasm and best management practices) and academic achievement (e.g., through graduate and postdoctoral training and exchange of scientists).