Location: Soil and Water Management ResearchTitle: International cooperation strengthens all our peoples
Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2018
Publication Date: 6/1/2018
Citation: Evett, S.R. 2018. International cooperation strengthens all our peoples. CSA News. 63(6):16-17.
Interpretive Summary: The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) is a scientific and technical society with members from every state in the US, and from many other countries. Many members are scientists and engineers involved in research and development of improved agronomic methods that reduce waste and cost, make more efficient use of agricultural inputs, defeat pests and diseases, improve harvesting methods, improve water quality and increase farm and range profitability. In addition to more than 8,000 scientists and engineers employed by federal, state and private industry, the society includes several thousand crop advisors and farm managers who put into practice the engineering and scientific advances and feed back to the scientific community the relative success or need for improvement of new methods, products and approaches. The Society and its membership play strong roles in promoting all five key indicators of rural prosperity listed by the Presidential Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, but particularly the last two: Harnessing Technological Innovation, and Economic Development. Many multi-national and transnational cooperative research and development efforts are taking place the world over, and ASA members are often involved. Opportunities for involvement exist at universities, government agencies, private institutions, and multi-national organizations. The rapid development of scientific capabilities and cooperation worldwide has many causes, but is exemplary of the continued progress of the enlightenment. U.S. involvement in international research has brought many benefits to U.S. producers as improved scientific understanding and testing and improvement of models, decision support systems and production practices feed back into our production systems.
Technical Abstract: This article highlights two excellent examples of international cooperation that strengthens research and research outcomes that impact all of us – no matter where we sit. In arid Jordan, water scarcity is a great challenge, made even greater by displacement of populations due to war and by climate change that threatens the productivity of traditional rangelands that extend into the eastern desert – the Jordan Badia. The combined impacts of climate change and over grazing, and concern about low rates of aquifer recharge exacerbated by high runoff rates from degraded range, led ASA member Scott Christiansen to develop the ICARDA Water and Livelihoods Initiative (WLI) in cooperation with USAID to address these problems in the MENA region. Now a multi-national team led by Stefan Strohmeier of ICARDA is studying Badia restoration practices that include Vallerani basins for harvesting runoff and improving recharge and vegetation, and stone gully plugs for stopping and eventually reversing gully erosion while enhancing recharge to the karst aquifer. Stefan’s team includes master-of-science students from Japan’s Tottori University and the University of Jordan, and partnerships with Jordan’s National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), the U.S. Forest Service, USDA Agricultural Research Service and University of Nevada. Cooperation with USDA ARS on the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM) and the SWAT model is leading to calibration, testing and improvement of those models to create a decision support system that can guide government and donors throughout the MENA region and beyond to choose restoration practices that restore rangelands to usable condition while enhancing aquifers. Strengthening these models will enhance their utility in North American rangelands as well. The second example was a meeting of the FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on “Nuclear Techniques for a Better Understanding of the Impact of Climate Change on Soil Erosion in Upland Agro-Ecosystems” in Rabat, Morocco. Research reports were given by team members from Austria, China, England, Iran, Italy, Madagascar, Morocco, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the USA, some of them Tri-Societies members. Improved understanding of climate change impacts and the effects of mitigation efforts will improve planning and adaptation efforts in all countries. These are just two of many, many multi-national and transnational cooperative research and development efforts taking place the world over. Opportunities for involvement exist at universities, government agencies, private institutions, and multi-national organizations.