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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Water Management and Conservation Research » Research » Research Project #436405

Research Project: The Nexus of Agricultural & Urban Trade-offs: Interdisciplinary Education & Research to Create Emerging Opportunities in Urban Agriculture

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

Project Number: 2020-13000-004-07-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2018
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

Objective:
Provide experiential learning opportunities for students while building capacity for agricultural science learning at Arizona State University and Mesa Community College.

Approach:
The Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area provides a fascinating microcosm experiment in understanding how to best balance urban growth with agricultural productivity. As urban centers sprawl, agricultural lands disappear, along with associated water rights, but can there be opportunities to maintain and even revive agriculture in this resource-limited system? Arizona State University (ASU) is a leader in environmental engineering, with much focus on resource recovery, yet it lacks the agricultural knowledge to improve the connections between urban and agricultural demands for water and other resources. Confounding these competing demands is the fact that this area is water and resource limited, especially with respect to agriculture. Through an expert-driven seminar course, an experimental learning class for undergraduates, and two joint masters student projects with the US Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center, this project aims to build ASU’s capacity to link its technological engineering advances to address the competing demands of urban and agricultural needs, within the context of a water-limited system. Through this work, we hope to identify new opportunities for agricultural and urban systems to co-exist and thrive. Briefly, the graduate students will identify organic micro-pollutants, nutrients and microbial constituents from municipal wastewater and dairy wastes. Environmental fate and transport parameters and optimal management practices for the selected constituents will be determined so that the waters can be safely used for irrigation.