Sixteen researchers across the country will share $3 million in new grants from the Center for Produce Safety in the coming year, with about a third of the money going to irrigation water studies.

Scientists submitted 55 proposals for the 2013 grants from the center, which is based at the University of Southern California-Davis, according to a news release. The center has provided $13.6 million total to 85 research projects involving food safety practices for fresh produce and tree nuts since launching the grant program in 2008.

“The research being conducted at CPS is relevant to all points of the supply chain — farmers, shippers, handlers and consumers,” Stephen Patricio, chairman for the center’s board, said in the release.

Seven of the 2013 grants are going to irrigation water studies. For example, George Vellidis at the University of Georgia will use a $372,000 grant to study whether salmonella can move through irrigation systems and onto crops.

A wide range of commodities and food safety issues are included in the other nine grants, including one that will fund research at UC-Davis on postharvest risks and mitigation strategies for pistachios.

In Oregon, researchers will study the survival of E. coli and salmonella during the growth, curing and storage of dry bulb onions produced with contaminated irrigation water.

Other projects in this funding cycle will study food safety risks for produce grown on diversified farms that include animal operations and a study to determine if enhanced forced-air cooling can reduce listeria monocytogenes and salmonella on cantaloupe surfaces.

A complete list of the center’s research funding, including the scientists and their institutions, is available on the Web at