This past year, parts of Alabama went more than 70 days without measurable rainfall, hurting famers and communities that were unprepared and relying on the wet weather. Droughts occur and then last for a longer period of time than most weather patterns, contributing to their unpredictability.
The Water Resources Center, part of Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Alabama Agricultural Experiment station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, looks to improve drought preparedness by monitoring and detecting early signs for drought. With this information system, the team hopes to move the nation from a reactive approach to proactive to better prepare producers and local governments.
The monitoring system is just one piece of the puzzle at the Water Resources Center – read more about other water management tools here.
Reducing nutrient runoff and increasing efficiency use of irrigation systems are top priorities for Louisiana State University AgCenter that discussed several projects to address water quality at the Louisiana Groundwater, Surface Water and Water Resources Symposium.
For example, one project monitors water quality by reusing runoff collected in a reservoir – nutrients also get reused which ends up reducing pollution in nearby water sources. Another project researches the best conservation practices in specific areas to remove additional nutrients and sediments from runoff.
These two projects are just several examples from the AgCenter’s work – read more about their research here.
Farmers have the power to support conservation efforts to reduce nutrient runoff in waterways. Iowa State University surveyed farmers on which conservation practices they were using – tillage and cover crops, nitrogen management, and structural practicers, such as terraces – all of which reduce nutrient waste.
Many are incorporating the recommended practices, but there is still more work to be done. Further nutrient runoff can be prevented through additional methods, like cover crops, and the Extension looks forward to continuing outreach to farmers to address the benefits of conservation practices.
Iowa State University takes survey results for their Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy – read more about their conservation goals here.
For the past few months, Florida has been experiencing an extreme drought, but the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program has saved nearly 65 million gallons of water – all through community outreach.
The UF Extension conducted water-saving workshops tackle common household problems like water retention, irrigation practices, and more. The workshops helped to educate Floridians on not just conservation strategies, but the benefits of water conservation, such as saving money. With over 87,000 people participating in 2016, it’s no wonder the workshops achieved such success!
So far, using less water has resulted in savings of over $200,000 for Floridians – read more about the workshops’ impact here.
The University of Arizona launched a new website that will help ranchers in more ways than one. The new site, DroughtView, will not only allow ranchers to track greener pastures, but also help determine where drought conditions may exist, in order to better deter the possibility of wildfires.
The site includes imagery of a 16-day period and has a feature where users can enter impact reports based on their own observations of plants and wildlife. It is already utilized by a local drought impact group, environmental scientists, plant geographers, federal and state land management agents, and ranchers to help take control of unpredictable weather patterns.
Curious about how the new application works or want to use it yourself? – read more about DroughtView and the University of Arizona’s work here.
When it comes to learning about water systems, middle and high school is the perfect time to start.
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln developed a new curriculum to help students have a stronger knowledge of water and water resources. Through participation in water literacy workshops and water science research projects, students will be able to link water to global issues like food, climate, and energy to brainstorm new approaches to age-old problems.
Read more about the effort to educate students on water systems in order to tackle the real- world challenges of the future here.
Mississippi State University Extension is finding variety is good when it comes to rice production. Alternating wet and dry production (AWD) is a new system that starts with an initial flooding of crops, letting the water drain below the surface, before refilling the field again with water.
Mississippi Extension has been testing this system and while there is no difference in yields, compared to traditional production, the benefit comes in conserving water. AWD uses 20 to 25 percent less water than traditional rice management which means more water, and money, is saved.
Farmers are already adopting this new method due to its water conservation and financial benefits – read about their personal experiences here.
Water conservation has a new champion in local farmers, according to a recent report from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
To combat ways to reduce nutrients from agriculture and identify strategies to protect the Chesapeake Bay, Penn State organized a conference with farmers, representatives from environmental groups, and local, state, and federal government officials. The session resulted in “champion farmers,” farmers who will help lead other producers in conservation efforts. With conservation efforts coming from the inside, maintaining productive agriculture while meeting water-quality goals will be revitalized.
The conference outlined four areas in how to increase efforts in conservation. Read them here.
Do you have a pond or fountain in your neighborhood? These local bodies of water help prevent flooding in communities and treat polluted runoff during rainstorms to protect bigger water sources. If not properly maintained, however, your local pond can contribute to poor water quality, shoreline erosion, and damage biodiversity.
Clemson University Extension has launched a new website that provides information on maintaining and protecting local ponds in neighborhoods and on community and business properties. Visit their website handbook to learn how to manage your pond’s water quality, prevent contamination, and identify disruptive species.
Ponds are so prevalent in South Carolina – the Extension added an advertising campaign to emphasis proper pond management solutions. Read more about their campaign here.
In underserved rural and urban communities with dry climates, there is a heavy reliance on rainwater harvesting systems, but the water quality of these systems is sometimes questionable as they are exposed to pollution. Nearly one-third of the world’s population lives in this type of environment.
University of Arizona is analyzing the safety and quality of water collected through these systems to increase access to clean water and provide water for agriculture. The university will work with nearly 200 families to monitor water quality from harvesting systems, which will improve water access not just in Arizona, but the world.
Families will collect water samples over three-years, with tools and resources from the University of Arizona. Read more about the study here.
It’s easy to check the weather and see if rain or sunshine is in the forecast but it’s a lot harder to predict droughts. Droughts do not appear suddenly in regions and can remain for a long period of time, making them unpredictable.
Auburn University’s College of Agriculture is developing a Drought Early Warning System for the Southeast, which will monitor, forecast, and prepare the region for droughts. By predicting droughts, states can manage their farm economies and water resources more effectively and farmers will be able to prepare irrigation in advance.
The Drought Early Warning System is just one of the tools Auburn University is working on to fight back against drought. Read about the others here.
Contrary to what you may think, warmer climates create a slower and earlier snowmelt during the winter. The snow starts melting sooner in the season and earlier during the day, as days are shorter. With a slower melt, the amount of water reaching the ground where it doesn’t evaporate is reduced so most of the snowmelt doesn’t create a runoff and never reaches downstream.
University of Nevada – Reno discovered that with a reduced runoff, there is less water available for drinking and agriculture as the snowmelt never reaches reservoirs. Nearly 60 million people depend on snowmelt for their water supply so with continued warmer climates, water availability will be greatly reduced.
Read exactly how warmer climates affect water availability here.
It’s no surprise that climate change affects weather patterns and contributes to rising temperatures, which can also raise sea levels. However, those rising sea levels affect animal and plant life in coastal ecosystems, and when the change happens suddenly, the damage can be significant.
To help predict rising sea levels and prepare ecosystems for a change, New Jersey Institute of Technology studied environmental trends such as water temperature, water pressure, and salinity, which change before sea levels actually rise. Now, by monitoring these factors, scientists can anticipate rising sea levels and prepare ecosystems for the change.
Curious how NJIT figured out the environmental trends? Read more about their research here.
A new approach to tracking fish migration patterns has been launched with help from Oregon State University researchers. The researchers are calling the results of their method, an ichthyograph, a chart that depicts key characteristics of a water source like stream flow, water temperatures, and the timing of upstream migration of fish.
The ichthyograph allows fisheries managers and fish biologists to better understand upstream migration patterns and will help to explore how climate change and human-related activity like water control, floodplain stabilization, and road construction affects fish migration.
While algae might be an unsightly nuisance in home aquariums, the plant can improve wastewater efficiency at a low-cost. Most wastewater is treated with a bacterial process, which produces sludge that can cause disposal issues. Treatment systems using bacterial processes also cost more through facility upgrades.
Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences discovered a system that uses conveyor belts with multiple layers of algae on them to treat wastewater. Not only is the system more cost-effective, it is also more sustainable as the algae produced from the process can be used as fertilizer. The Iowa team hopes the system will be implemented in small communities that may not be able to afford costly treatment upgrades to comply with new regulations.
In the first app of its kind, Ag Water, designed by University of Arizona and University of California, Davis researchers, determines whether a water source is safe to use on produce. Ag Water predicts the quality of water from a source by using the user’s location, historical water quality data, and weather information. A user can also input certain qualities such as water temperature to strengthen the accuracy of Ag Water’s prediction.
Ag Water not only helps with maintaining water quality, but also increases food safety by ensuring contaminated water is not used on produce. The app also helps growers test their water sources regularly, in conjunction with the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2015.
Read more about the Ag Water app here. The app is available for download in iTunes and Google Play stores.
With the recent water crises in the United States, such as Flint, Michigan, the University of Delaware conducted a study on the best way for the public to protect drinking water.
Messaging related to clean drinking water impacts policy, investment, and preparation for potential future issues. By developing the right message, an organization can move more people to protect drinking water.
Read more about Delaware’s recommendations for messaging on water here.
The agricultural industry is the largest consumer of water in the country, and farmers are always looking for new ways to maximize efficiency and reduce use.
Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center has developed a smartphone app to help growers plan and monitor their water use in the field. The “Irrigation Scheduler Mobile” app helps growers find and plug irrigation leaks, save water, and ultimately make more money.
Read more about this technology here!
Water restrictions and drought affect millions of Americans and costs the economy billions of dollars. The issue is critically important to the agricultural industry. Farmers need accurate and up to date data about drought trends to guide their irrigation and harvest strategies.
Most rely on the United States Drought Monitor, a state of the art weather service located at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. They have published weekly data and maps since 1999 that track the intensity of droughts across the country. Offering more than a snapshot of the current drought situation, the USDM website has interactive tools that let you compare the current drought situation with any date over the last 16 years.
Check out the Drought Monitor resources here!
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew some scientists are wondering if the deadly storm could have been better predicted.
Scientists at Rutgers University Agricultural Experiment Station are working on just that – they are studying historical storms to understand and predict future natural disasters.
Read more here!
South Carolina suffered a month of severe drought in September 2015, followed by disastrous flooding during Hurricane Joaquin. The disasters stressed the need for increased data about river systems.
Clemson University’s Water Resources Center hosts conferences bringing scientists and policy makers together to discuss and implement plans for the state when a natural disaster occurs. Data driven research will assess the state of the land and then will be used to manage when disaster strikes. The better the land is understood, the greater the response can be when issues arise.
Read more here.
Nurseries contribute $1.2 billion and 36,000 jobs to Michigan’s economy, but at the expense of local water systems. Runoff from this water heavy industry can pollute local lakes, rivers, and ground waters.
Michigan State University researchers are testing different irrigation techniques to combat the excess water usage. By reducing and recycling the initial input of water, the nursery plant industry can continue to thrive and move toward a more sustainable framework.
Read more about how MSU researchers are helping nurseries get the most out of their water.
Excessive sediment in US river systems can harm aquatic life and threaten watershed ecosystems. The waterborne soil can also clog up reservoirs and dams.
Researchers at the University of Delaware College of Agriculture & Natural Resources are working to analyze restoration efforts around the Delaware River Watershed, and their insights could be applied across the country to restore river systems.
Read more about the project at the University of Delaware CANR blog.
As many areas of the United States combat summer drought conditions, homeowners are left wondering how to maintain lawns while under water restriction. South Dakota State University Extension horticulturists have tips on watering, mowing, and fertilizer use to help you care for your drought-stressed lawn.
For more resources please visit the SDSU iGrow website.
The summer of 2016 has brought record rainfall and disastrous flood events to thousands of Americans from Louisiana to West Virginia to Indiana. When the floodwaters recede and people return to their homes, their first instinct is to jump into repairs as quickly as possible.
However, doing so can actually make the damage worse.
According to the Extension Disaster Communication Network specialist Steve Cain, homeowners should wait to start repairs until the damaged areas have had a chance to dry out. “The tendency is to get to work as soon as possible, but that could lead to problems later,” Cain said. “Putting up insulation, drywall or paneling before the wood studs have completely dried out could trap moisture in the walls and lead to mold growth.”
For more tips on flood recovery visit Purdue University’s Flood Recovery Resources page where you can download a free copy of “First Steps to Flood Recovery.”
John Cobourn, a water resources specialist at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has received the Joint Council of Extension Professionals Award for Creative Excellence.
The award recognizes his 25 years of work addressing flash floods, drought tolerant landscaping, and water quality issues.
“It’s really gratifying to be recognized for the work I’ve done in watershed management at Lake Tahoe and in other parts of northern Nevada,” Cobourn said.
Read more here!
Douglas Firs are particularly sensitive to the drought affecting California and much of the Western United States.
A new study from the University of California – Davis’ College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences pinpointed exactly how the trees are being harmed. They analyzed core samples, gathered from up and down the West Coast, to understand how Douglas Firs growth rates have changed over the past century.
According to project lead Christina Restaino, “Throughout the life of these trees, Douglas firs have experienced a lot of different conditions … The conditions that have been the warmest and the driest have slowed their growth the most.”
Read more about the study here.
The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis is storing rainwater to be dispersed during the dry season to winemakers. This recyclable water helps make the winemaking process more available while also protecting natural resources.
Lower cost options allow farmers to protect their land’s water supply.
If a streambank isn’t fortified, it could collapse and flood a creek or body of water with sediment, which disrupts the quality and flow of the water.
Traditionally, farmers have used large boulders to fortify banks, but this is a costly solution since it requires high transportation costs.
Kansas State University Research and Extension Service suggests using local materials to fortify streambanks. This would lower the costs inflicted on the farmer.
For example, a farmer could use local trees to fortify the banks, saving tens of thousands of dollars compared to the boulder system.
To learn more about efforts to improve water for Kansas farmers, click here!
California’s drought has dried up many of the state’s resources, but one resource continues to be plentiful–knowledgeable universities and soil.
Scientists at the University of California will study soil as a tool to defeat the state’s drought. The project is funded by a 1.69 million dollar grant, and will allow for the creation of a Consortium for Drought and Carbon Management. This program will allow researchers to study soil formation and stability to understand drought conditions.
With this information, the UC scientists hope to create a model that predicts soil dynamics and gauges the response of an agriculture system to drought conditions.
To read more about efforts to study California’s drought, click here
Rainwater is welcome in North Dakota after a dry winter, but negative consequences have started to appear.
North Dakota State University Extension Service reported ponds and dugouts might have low water quality due to high levels of salt, minerals and bacteria.
Low water quality can be harmful particularly to livestock. If cattle ingest too much salt, it can result in illness and sometimes death.
NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory offers water quality testing for livestock animals.
To read more about the dangers facing North Dakota farmers, click here.
A researcher at the Mississippi State University Department of Landscape Architecture is pushing for increased recycling of gray water.
Gray water is any water that comes in contact with humans. This includes water used for showers, washing dishes, and other daily activities.
MSU says gray water is perfect for use in gardening and agriculture.
Read more here!
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire Ag Experiment Station have launched a multiyear program targeted at understanding the impact of droughts on Northern forests.
This research will allow scientists to understand the effect of climate change on forest health, productivity and hydrology, and will enable researchers to make decisions ensuring the sustainability of forests and water resources in the future. The team hopes to simulate a 55 percent reduction in annual growing season precipitation, determined after a review of 100 years of precipitation records.
Read more here!
A study funded by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium into salt marsh restoration sees small, private landowners as crucial in protecting the economic and environmental wellbeing of the country’s coastlines. A team of researchers from Mississippi State University, the University of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the University of Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve collaborated to investigate how restoration can be most effective along the Gulf Coast.
Salt marshes are a vital natural resource acting to filter pollutants from runoff before they enter the sea and also help prevent erosion. They provide a habitat for animals and organisms on which commercially important seafood such as shrimp and fish are reliant.
Coastal hard management technologies such as sea wall construction are often favoured and result in reducing these salt marsh areas. However, the study sees soft management practices as proving the longer term and more sustainable option.
Read more here!
University of California, Davis scientists look into winery wastewater, in hopes of finding smart and eco-friendly ways to irrigate vines.
Researchers have studied winery wastewater samples from 18 wineries in the Napa and Lodi regions of California for nearly two years.
The information is the first data to support the California wine industry’s reuse of treated winery wastewater.
Read more here!
University of Maryland Eastern Shore has recently received $1.2M in grant money from the USDA’s NIFA. The grant will be divided between UMES faculty members Robert Dadson, Anugrah Shaw and Eric May to fund their research projects.
Dadson’s research helps farmers bring safe and nutritious salad greens to market.
May’s research addresses environmental concerns about the cause of Urea in aquatic ecosystems, which poses a threat to human life.
Shaw is founding the International Center for Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Operators, which will focus on worker safety by developing new standards and clear communications.
Read more here!
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is getting the word out about smarter irrigation strategies. By developing cost-effective, easy to use water saving tools, UGA is hoping to increase the number of farmers using irrigation scheduling.
Currently, only 10-20% of Georgia farmers use irrigation scheduling.
UGA Cooperative Extension is researching ways to provide farmers with both the techniques and the knowledge to implement water-saving irrigation plans through smart phone apps and web tools like IrrigatorPro.
Read more here!
UC Berkeley is set to lead a $12.3 million project to explore how epigenetics can allow plants to better survive drought conditions. The project is funded by the Department of Energy, and comes at an important time for water security in California.
The researchers at UC Berkeley will be working with scientists at UC Agriculture andNatural Resources, the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, and the Pacific Northwest National Lab.
The grant was announced on Monday and will fund the project for five years.
Read more here!
Q: We are hosting several parties over the holidays. Many of our friends are more health-conscious these days, and I would like to serve some healthy but festive beverages. Any ideas?
Clean, fresh water is among the healthiest beverages out there. It’s calorie- and sugar-free and, when you get it from the tap, it’s about as inexpensive as you can get. The Harvard School of Public Health has gone so far as to state outright that “water is the best choice” for quenching your thirst and rehydrating your body, which uses water in every one of its biochemical reactions as well as for metabolism, breathing, sweating and removal of waste.
Here are some ideas that will help your water make a splash (again, not literally) during the holidays:
Read more here!
University of California, Riverside assistant professor Samantha Ying is studying soil with a team of researchers to develop new tools to fight the drought. The team was awarded a $1.69 million grant from the University of California Office of the President for the project.
Ying’s collaborators are: Kate Scow and Sanjai Parihk (UC Davis); Eoin Brodie and Margaret Torn (UC Berkeley); Asmeret Berhe and Teamrat Ghezzehei (UC Merced); and Peter Nico and William Riley (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).
The grant is one of four awards totaling more than $4.8 million from University of California President Janet Napolitano’s President’s Research Catalyst Awards.
Read more here!
Virginia Cooperative Extension associate professor John Munsell, a forest management specialist, was recently awarded $1.4 million to expand the use agroforestry to complement farm and forest production. Agroforestry is a land use management system that uses trees in conjunction with crops to create more diverse and productive land use systems.
Professor Munsell will use the funding to integrate agroforestry practives into Virginia’s water quality trading program.
“The objective is to increase tree-based nutrient offset opportunities on farmland in Virginia’s region of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond,” Munsell told the Augusta Free Press.
Read more here!
Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension received a $775,000 for irrigation management technology. The funding was part of the over $20 million that USDA awarded to 45 projects.
“Recent advances in sensing and telecommunication technologies have made it possible for agricultural producers to utilize sensor-collected information on various parameters (e.g. soil moisture content, canopy temperature, etc.) to fine-tune their irrigation scheduling and minimize possible water losses,” said Saleh Taghvaeian, a water resources specialist on the Oklahoma State University project.
Read more here!
Researchers at Cal Berkeley won a grant to study Sorghum cultivation in drought conditions. Researchers hope to learn more about how Sorghum adjusts to different climates and how the crop survives without water for extended periods of time. The study will focus on the plant’s genetics and specific traits that are expressed over a three year period.
Read more here!
The North Dakota State University Extension Service is holding irrigation workshops Dec. 10 in Bismarck and Dec. 16 in Williston.
“The drought in California and its impact on high-value irrigated crops have been in the news for the past year,” says Extension water quality and irrigation specialist Tom Scherer. “This has raised concerns about fresh water supplies throughout the U.S. Irrigators in California and many other states have been using more technology to fine-tune their management of allocated water, resulting in less pumped water with equal yields. Better irrigation management technologies are the focus of these workshops.”
Read more here!
Using compost in a garden can help conserve water. UC Researchers have been telling Californians that the liberal use of compost can help soil to retain water, reducing the need for watering. Compost is organic matter that has been broken down by worms and micro-organisms. Some of compost’s other benefits are improvement of soil texture, feeding beneficial bacteria and providing nutrients for plants.
Read more here!
Florida has more coastline than any of the other 48 connected states and one of the largest collections of freshwater springs on the planet. However, many of Florida’s springs are facing excessive algae growth. An UF/IFAS research team believes that rather than being caused only by compounds in agricultural runoff, decreased amount of snails also may be a factor. At 11 different springs, a lower population of snails indicated higher concentrations of algae. State officials announced they will continue to investigate this connection.
Read more here!
The Mississippi River is facing a problem with invasive species. More specifically, silver carp have moved into the area and are overtaking a particular niche in the ecosystem. MSU and its Extension program are working with CRHWC on outreach and education programs to teach both the public as well as government officials at all levels about the dangers of invasive species. Silver carp are known to consume large quantities of plankton, preventing other fish from getting enough as well as harming one of the area’s largest industries in recreational fishing. Silver carp have also been known to injure boaters due to their tendency to leap out of the water as a result of noises from boat motors.
Read more here!
Juvenile salmon and trout are balancing on a “knife-edge” of survival. The pools in which they grow up have been known to dry up almost completely and recent drought conditions are making it even worse. Researchers at UC Berkeley are trying to find out how much water these fish need to survive in the streams and pools that they have lived in for thousands of years. “We hope our research can help assure their survival into the future while still providing water for other uses,” said head researcher Stephanie Carlson.
Read more here!
A study from the University of California, Davis finds native wildflowers in California are losing species diversity after multiple years of drier winters. This provides the first direct evidence of climate change impacts in the state’s grassland communities. “Such diversity losses may foreshadow larger-scale extinctions, especially in regions that are becoming increasingly dry,” said lead author Susan Harrison, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. The future grassland communities of California are expected to be less productive, provide less nutrition to herbivores, and become more vulnerable to invasion by exotic species, the study said.
Read more here!
Mississippi prides itself on their beautiful landscape. However, what they hold in higher regard is their ability to conserve water during hot summer days. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that approximately 29 billion gallons of water is used or wasted daily. Almost 30 percent of that water goes toward outdoor usage. Mississippi State University Extension Services suggest several easy ways to protect your plants and soil, and stop pollution in streams, rivers, or lakes. The effort towards saving water is gaining popularity among the public. Among other things, it reduces the need for fertilizer, pesticides, and maintenance.
Read more here!
Researchers at UC Davis have shown that removing some levees or rebuilding aging ones some distance away from riverbanks will allow California to store more groundwater and fight against drought. California currently endures yearly droughts, and storing groundwater will likely be an important factor in fighting back. Installing setback levees could be a costly resolution, but it might be necessary given the current state of water in California.
Read more here!
Aggies Go Global funded a trip for 10 New Mexico State University students to travel to India and research water-based issues. Most of the students were drawn to the case due to interest in the field of water conservation. NMSU is pointedly attempting to secure valuable experiences for their students, particularly in regards to detrimental agricultural issues.
Read more here!
New research at West Virginia State is focusing on identifying and developing remedies for the condition of local agricultural economies and environmentally friendly use of soil, water, and renewable resources in the Appalachia region. This research has uncovered the potential to mitigate the impact of storm water runoff on water quality, divert selected waste streams into valuable products to improve soil fertility, and improve productivity of disturbed areas and reclaimed land, among others.
Read more here!
Chicken litter produced in Delmarva Peninsula is being used as an organic fertilizer. However, due to the high levels of Phosphorus it contains, local bodies of water are facing water degradation. The Delaware State University Agriculture Research Station has partnered with other groups, including Delaware Department of Agriculture, to develop better application rates of the fertilizer to avoid too much runoff into water bodies like Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay.
Read more here!
The arrival and toxicity of algal blooms on Lake Erie could be a thing of the past thanks to Central State University’s International Center for Water Resources Management. A series of research projects will use a dedicated $2 million in research funds. A number of researchers participating in the projects represent a number of University System of Ohio campuses. The Lake Erie group is hoping to find the best model to be able to predict the onset of the bloom—how soon, how late it will happen and at what level.
Read more here!
Horticulture advisors at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources recommend “grasscycling” to conserve water. Grasscycling is the process of leaving grass clipping on the lawn, instead of removing them. Leaving the clippings reduces water evaporation and helps to cut down the need for fertilizer. It’s an easy way to help Californians meet their conservation goal.
Read more here!
The University of Arkansas is hosting a five-day workshop reserved specifically for water quality modeling professionals. Researchers at the university have developed a modeling program to measure water quality and will use software created by the Centre for Water Research (CWR). The CWR hopes to optimize water quality, publish impact papers and produce quality post graduate students, and establish and maintain links with the industry through incorporated, transferable tools.
Read more here!
More than 82 percent of the population in the Central Great Plains region could lose their primary water source if an alternative irrigation method is not found. Research on the issue that began in 1989 is now directed by researchers at Kansas State University. The project aims to increase water conservation, maintain water quality, and further develop subsurface drop irrigation technology. If irrigation trends continue to decline and an alternative method is not found and utilized, the Ogallala Aquifer could decrease by 69 percent in the next 50 years.
Read more here!
In the past, Arkansas farmers have faced several environmental issues that inhibited their ability to do business. Now, with the implementation of Discovery Farms, farmers are more involved in resolving farm related environmental issues including water quality and quantity, irrigation water use and soil health, among others. These nine Discovery Farms are becoming increasingly central to best agriculture practices across the state.
Read more here!
A team of UC researchers has helped the agriculture industry make do with less water by growing alfalfa, sorghum and corn under a center pivot irrigation system. The primary focus of the study is comparing regular irrigation levels with regulated deficit irrigation. Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and the project lead, predicts a 25 percent reduction of water used and an overall improvement of future water management strategies in California.
Read more here!
As the California drought continues, new research from the UC System provides the best way to manage irrigation for almond trees. It is a challenge to manage any orchard when the climatic water demand exceeds the water absorbed by the roots. It’s important to measure tree stress, and decide whether to adopt a moderate, severe, or “staying alive” drought strategy.
Read more here!
It’s no secret that California is in a drought. However, they may have just gotten a big break. The recent approval of a $7.5 billion water bill is raising prospects as well as capacity. It might not all be good news however; researchers with UC Davis found that the state can’t have more than a 15 percent increase in surface water storage capacity because of lack of water to fill it. The report encourages a more integrated approach to surface and groundwater water storage in the hopes of developing more sustainable water management strategies. Find out more about their research below.
Read more here!
Previously unknown fish behavior is now becoming a thing of the past thanks to UF/IFAS scientists. They have been using cameras to document fish behavior in dense and invasive plants like hydrilla, and their approaches will likely be very valuable in advising conservation plans. Hydrilla has been a big problem for Florida, which spent $14 million a year throughout the 2000s to manage it. Now, however, researchers and conservation managers can use these cameras to get hard data on which fish area doing in areas densely populated by plants like this.
Read more here!
Two New Mexico State University researchers may have found an answer to the turf irrigation and landscaping water shortage. Bernd Leinauer and Elena Sevostianova are suggesting that using effluent water would eliminate the need for additional mineral fertilizers. Typically, most of the water used for irrigation and landscaping has been cleansed to remove nitrogen. These NMSU scientists are suggesting leaving the nitrogen in, and using decentralized water treatment systems and subsurface irrigation systems instead of sprinklers. That way, we will eliminate a huge chunk of fertilizer production, saving money and reducing our carbon footprint. Find out more about their panel in Rome:
Read more here!
The University of Missouri is using existing Midwestern rivers research data to predict future problems that may appear due to climate shifts. This project will focus on the floodplains of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Despite the fact that there are over 85,000 acres of state and federally owned conservation lands in large-river floodplains, no one knows if the water will rise, how long it will stay flooded, and what the implications of the flooding will be. The University of Missouri team wants to change that. “In addition to conservation benefits, these lands have the potential to provide valuable ecosystem services like habitats, nutrient processing, carbon sequestration and flood-water storage,” says Craig Paukert, associate cooperative professor of fisheries and wildlife at MU’s School of Natural Resources. Paukert plans to formalize the understanding of the information needs for management of the floodplain conservation lands.
Read more here!
Recently the Arkansas Water Resources Center (AWRC) passed its three-year evaluation and will be able to continue receiving federal funding. As a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, the AWRC is one of only 54 water resource research centers across the United States of America. AWRC uses their funding to train new scientists, disseminate research results to water managers and the public, and cooperate with other institutions in their regions on water issues. Federal funded projects at AWRC include irrigation and runoff, innovative domestic wastewater disposal systems, groundwater modeling, land-use mapping, erosion and pollution, water quality, as well as ecosystems.
As water flows, it brings with it nutrients. What nutrients it takes from one area, it ushers to another. Understanding how this system of replenishing works will aid those vested in land and crop management. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture hopes that continued studies of this design will help create sustainable agriculture for generations to come.
Of the past three growing seasons, two of them have had to deal with substantial droughts. Agronomists at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture are working with local producers to find solutions for adequate soil moisture. A certain project that tests feasibility of controlled drainage structures in Muhlenberg, Kentucky, is trying to grow larger yields of corn and the main contributor to that success is the drainage structure. Drainage times are very common throughout the western portion of Kentucky for the wet winters. They help keep the ground saturated into the spring months.
California is encountering its most severe drought on record this year. The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences recently conducted a study that found that the drought “is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture.” It goes on, stating unceremoniously that river water for Central Valley farms has been “reduced by roughly one-third.” To combat such drought, officials choose more and more to deplete groundwater reserves. With California being the producer of nearly half of U.S. –grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and nearly a quarter of the nation’s milk and cream, its agriculture must be closely and efficiently managed, so that it may continue to play its vital role in American agriculture for generations to come.
With the recent drought in the state of Kentucky, many grain farmers continue to show interest in irrigation. Chad Lee, an agronomist at the University of Kentucky, is conducting a study to see how corn responds to irrigation, high seeding rates, and different nitrogen rates. The ultimate goal of the study is to find the most efficient and cost effective way for Kentucky’s farmers to produce better grain yields seasonally.
“If we have water to put on a field, then we can push corn populations higher and possibly get better yields,” Lee said.
Louisiana State University’s AgCenter shares this interesting release on how the Environmental Protection Agency Watershed Task Force is partnering with land-grant institutions to reduce pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Increased Nitrogen and phosphorus can help improve yields for farmers, but these nutrients can be detrimental to water systems.
Read the full release here!
In honor of its centennial anniversary, the University of California Cooperative Extension is throwing a Day of Science and Service on May 8th. Because of this, the extension is encouraging farmers to report their efforts to conserve water in a statewide geographical dataset. This day will not only help people understand the continuing water-saving efforts, but raise awareness about water conservation not only farms but households as well. “Right now California is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record,” said Darren Haver, UCCE advisor in Orange County. “Some communities may run out of water in the next 10 years. If everyone in the state saves at least 10 gallons a month, we will be able to save over four and a half billion gallons a year.”
With a drought currently running through the Sierra Nevada, it is not only the state of California that feels the effects from a lack of water. Farmers in Northern Nevada are suffering from this water shortage. Without the water, farmers won’t be able to produce their hay, which in turn will make the farmers ship in expensive feed or downsize their herds. UC Davis rangeland watershed specialist Ken Tate has been working with cattle ranchers of California to help irrigate more efficiently and improve the management of their vegetation, but with all this work, he realizes that there is only so much they can do. “There are not scientific answers to some of these problems,” he said in a recent interview with National Public Radio. “Sometimes there’s no solution for not enough rain.”
Government agencies and agricultural producers are working to conserve what is left of the Ogallala Aquifier in order to keep surrounding lands productive for future generations. The Ogallala has long served as the water source for farmland irrigation in western Kansas and other states. K-State agricultural economists are slated to hold a conference that will analyze the profitability of new innovations and the effectiveness of processes like the Intensive Groundwater-Use Control Areas (IGUCAs) and Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMA).
As part of new regulation effective next year from the Food Safety Modernization Act, students in the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) are using a plot of land on the campus farm to study possible soil and irrigation water contaminants. The study is part of a $9 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) grant titled “Developing Consensus Produce Safety Metrics for Leafy Greens and Tomatoes.” The overall goal of such research is to help inform growers on risk assessment in the field in order to allow for higher yields and production sustainability.
The Ogallala Aquifier lies beneath eight U.S. states and spans across over 170,000 acres. The aquifier serves as an important water resource for Kansas rural and urban areas. Usage is exceeding the recharge of the aquifer, which is leading to its depletion. Presently used for production agriculture, housing and other municipal use, the overuse of this water source could pose a problem for the Kansas economy.
Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension services will be holding a free open house on October 5th, featuring presentations and demonstrations about various topics, including water conservation and gardening. Guests can learn tips on more efficient gardening practices and will hear from Water Wise about conservation practices and techniques. The event lasts from 9 am to 1 pm, and is located in at 1600 B Smith Road in Austin, Texas.
Breakthroughs in computer-linked soil moisture sensors have displayed a reduction in container nurseries’ water usage by 70 percent. University of Georgia researchers have developed a new automated micro-irrigation system that help significantly lower the amount of water needed to grow nursery plants. These technologies benefit the state’s water supply while providing growers with the ability to cultivate healthier, hardier plants with more ease.
Water dependence in today’s society makes it an invaluable resource towards consumption, sanitation and agriculture. The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is actively investigating management practices to ensure water-wise irrigation methods. In addition, the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center has placed focus on water quality, runoff, and irrigation efficiency. A recent project monitors surface runoff and soil moisture content in flood irrigated pastures in attempts to ultimately estimate the efficiency of a “wild flood” surface irrigation system. By taking the initiative to research innovative water management practices and develop a better understanding of sustainable irrigation methods, SFREC and the entire UCANR division are enabling water availability and conservation for the future.
Tailwater recovery systems are used to capture surface runoff, making irrigation more efficient and more cost effective. This provides for significant water quality and water quantity improvements to the environment. Learn more by watching this great video from Mississippi State University.
As New Mexico continues to struggle through extreme drought conditions, New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service offers a wide variety of educational publications to help New Mexicans face drought-issues. A new website, www.aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_drought/, provides easy access to the listing of these publications.
Topics of these publications range from agronomy to livestock and rangeland management to home gardening and landscaping. Subjects range from agronomic principles to help with farming during drought periods and drip irrigation for row crops; from various weed poisoning of livestock and horses to using byproduct food stuffs in grazing nutrition; and from landscape water conservation to how to build low-pressure drip irrigation system.
As forecasts for harmful algal bloom increase for the western Lake Erie area, experts from the OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences continue to work with farmers statewide to lessen the potential for farmland runoff. Growers fear the loss of nutrients because of compromised water quality. The blooms, which are harmful to wildlife and humans, occur when phosphorus levels are high within the lake.
Tumultuous weather conditions have Iowa residents on alerts. With much of the state in moderate to extreme drought conditions, this week southeast Iowa received more than six inches of rain and flash flooding. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programs are assisting those preparing and recovering from both natural disasters by making information more accessible to the public. These disaster preparedness and response resources will help producers in rural areas defend against nature’s fury.
Imagine that a river could talk. Imagine that it could convey its condition to the people who manage the water flow needed for drinking water…hydroelectric power…recreation…and industrial production. Imagine an Intelligent River.Water flows. So does information. Water resource managers need to know immediately — not days or weeks later — if there is a dangerous change in water temperature, oxygen levels, flow-rate or chemical make-up. Imagine a system that reports this information as it’s happening. That vision is being realized today by the Intelligent River project at Clemson. The same technology that’s being used to monitor rivers can be used to monitor virtually anything. Plans are already in the works for an Intelligent Farm, Intelligent Forest…even Intelligent Buildings and Roads
Although reports of drought conditions, water wars and restrictions have often painted a bleak picture of the nation’s water availability, a new University of Florida survey finds that conditions aren’t quite so bad as believed.
Jim Jawitz, a UF soil and water science professor, and Julie Padowski, who earned her doctoral degree from UF and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, knew that previous assessments of urban water supplies typically used what is known as a “runoff-based approach,” which takes into account factors such as river flows and rainfall amounts. This research could prove important for farming communities around the nation
California agriculture is a central pillar of the state’s economy, producing $37 billion worth of fruits, nuts, vegetables, field crops, livestock, and greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture products in 2007. Water is key to this agricultural bounty. In a normal year, California agriculture uses about 34.2 million acre-feet of water for irrigation, according to a 2009 report by the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center. UC Davis CAES scientists are experimenting with innovative research projects and new information technology to make the most of the state’s limited but very important water resources.
On Friday, February 22, 2013, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences will host the 57th annual Rural Life Conference. This year’s theme will be “Climate Change and Its Effects on Water Resources in Arkansas”. The conference will feature several theme-related workshops. It will also offer a poster session highlighting UAPB research projects and exhibits by governmental and community agencies. Researchers and agency representatives will be at their posters and exhibits during registration and during the break to answer questions.
Texas A&M University System personnel will be investigating the feasibility of gray water use for home landscape irrigation as a statewide initiative for conserving water resources. gray water is essentially “soapy” water left after tap water has been run through a washing machine or used in a bathtub, bathroom sink or shower and does not contain serious contaminants. Gray water for irrigation is already allowed in some southwestern states, including parts of Texas, with some restrictions. “Research results indicate that with minimum precautions water from our showers, bathroom sinks and clothes washers could be used to meet up to 10-15 percent of our overall landscape water needs.” said Dr. Calvin Finch, director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center in San Antonio.
University of Georgia Extension specialists Clint Waltz and Becky Griffin research ways to conserve water for Georgian lawns and landscapes. The results of the study will improve water conservation in Georgia, with more than 700 landscapers participating in sustainable turfgrass trainings led by Griffin.