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NDSU's Barney Geddes receives award from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

Barney Geddes has been received New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research.

Barney Geddes
Barney Geddes has been awarded $450,000 to go toward his nitrogen-producing microbial research. Photo taken April 29, 2022, in Fargo, North Dakota.
Emily Beal / Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Barney Geddes has recently received the New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research.

Geddes is an assistant professor of microbiological sciences at North Dakota State University. His research is focused on nitrogen-producing microbes that could be beneficial to yields in cereal crops. Geddes hopes his research is able to help farmers in the future lower their input costs.

“That's really our main motivation here. I grew up on a small family farm as well, and I can see fertilizers are becoming the main inputs in most farmers' agricultural systems. So this is becoming more and more expensive. The war in Ukraine made it more expensive for fertilizers even yet. So they’re well over double what they were last year,” Geddes said.

Geddes says in the distant future he hopes that these natural nitrogen producing microbes could supplement the pricey fertilizers farmers buy to ensure quality yields from their crops.

“That’s really what this grant is focused on in the long term. Could we actually transfer those types of relationships to crops that can’t take advantage of them? So things like wheat or corn that require a lot of fertilizer,” he said. “Could we use these microbes to supplement that fertilizer?”

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Colleen Fitzgerald, NDSU vice president of research and creative activity, is thrilled with Geddes winning the New Innovator award and believes it shows the great promise his work holds.

“This FFAR award is a testament to the merit of Barney’s innovative and creative approach to addressing one of the major 21st century challenges of agriculture, sustainable and resilient food production,” she said.

On its website, FFAR describes its purpose as connecting "funders, researchers and farmers through public-private partnerships to support audacious research addressing the biggest food and agriculture challenges." FFAR says its New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award "provides early-career scientists with funding to conduct audacious food and agriculture research."

Geddes is one of the eight individuals across the country that received this award and grant. The grant is meant to fund big visionary style research projects, such as Geddes’ microbial research. Geddes was surprised and honored to receive this award and grant so early on in his career, noting that the researchers who are normally chosen have many more years of research and experience under their belt.

“It’s normally really hard to secure as an early professor. So those sorts of awards normally only go to very established researchers. So it’s a huge deal for us because it lets us do this very visionary research, even at these early stages of my career,” Geddes said.

Geddes research has the help of seven graduate and three undergraduate students, as well as one post-doctoral assistant. He says they all play a vital role in his research.

Emily grew up on a corn, soybean and wheat farm in southern Ohio where her family also raises goats. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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