Specialists in the field of agricultural law and water from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources(link is external) will play key roles in a new multidisciplinary effort to develop innovative, safe and sustainable ways to irrigate food crops in variable climates. The “CONSERVE” Center of Excellence, established with a $10 million, four-year award from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will be led byAmy Sapkota(link is external) from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.(link is external)
Growing concerns about the reuse of water for irrigation of crops and the scarcity of water due to temperature variations created by climate change significantly affects decisions farmers and crop growers make when it comes to using water sources. Additionally, there is a lack of scientific facts and resources on which to base producer decisions regarding safe irrigation treatments. To address these concerns, legal specialists and extension faculty will work with agricultural and research scientists to educate small farmers about sustainable ways to irrigate food crops in fluctuating climates.
Extension Legal Specialists Paul Goeringer and Ashley Ellixson will work with other CONSERVE researchers to facilitate the extension and outreach programs through the Mid-Atlantic region. They will develop assessment tools to identify crop grower needs and work with CONSERVE scientists to implement on-farm technologies enabling the use of non-traditional irrigation water sources. Their work will adapt the research into actual practice, while gathering continuous feedback and evaluations from farmers and crop growers to measure the effectiveness of new water treatment technologies. This information will be used to create experiential educational programs to teach and train crop growers, agricultural service providers, and next generation leaders engaged in sustainable water reuse on food crops.
Goeringer is the principal legal specialist for AREC, where he specializes in legal risk management in agriculture, leasing and estate planning, environmental compliance, right-to-farm laws, and federal farm program compliance for Maryland farmers. Ellixson joined AREC in 2014 as a legal specialist in agricultural law and its effects on producers. Her research focused on the Clean Water Act and the permitting systems enforced by individual states upon agricultural operations.
“We are pleased to have two of our top Extension faculty participating in this ground-breaking project to benefit farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region and the farming community nationally. Paul and Ashley have successfully implemented research and policy programs in agricultural law across the state of Maryland and their knowledge and experience will provide a strong educational component for CONSERVE,” stated Jim Hanson, Chair for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
AREC is renowned for its agricultural economics and policy programs. The Department staffs a distinguished list of international faculty and experts actively involved in research and policy, with an exceptional number of publications in leading economic journals.
The program will include a multidisciplinary team of legal specialist and scientists from College Park’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences; A. James Clark School of Engineering; SESYNC (National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center); the University of Maryland in Baltimore, School of Medicine and the Francis King Carey School of Law; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; the University of Delaware; the University of Arizona; New Mexico State University; the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS); the Araya Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel; and CosmosID, a Maryland-based bioinformatics company.
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