Dr. Zohrab Samani from NMSU’s Civil Engineering Department will conduct field experiments where multiple levels of water and salinity stress are imposed on a select group of crops that comprise more than 90% of the irrigated agriculture in the area. These crops are subject to various soil textures and properties including salinity. After identifying factors that affect crop stress, farmers and water managers will receive training to identify problems, and to maintain, repair, and manage systems for optimum water use efficiency and economic return.
Dr. April Ulery of NMSU’s Plant & Environmental Sciences Department will conduct field studies at the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, NM. She will be evaluating potential bioenergy crops such as canola, blade sorghum, and switchgrass in a saline environment using drip irrigation. Drs. John Idowu and Robert Flynn from NMSU’s Department of Plant Extension Sciences will also take part in the project and provide extension outreach to local farmers interested in improving crop yields using salt tolerant crops and alternative water sources.
NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory’s Flight Test Site will support the flight sensor acquisition, installation, operation, and data collection from flights over the New Mexico field sites. The Site’s personnel will develop and fly the overflight missions to ensure the desired data and images are collected and assist in the processing of the raw sensor data for mapping the geospatial data acquired.
Since 2014, NIFA has awarded nearly $42 million through the Water for Agriculture Challenge Area. Project details on all the NIFA project can be found at the NIFA website: www.nifa.usda.gov.