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College Park faculty join CONSERVE, with $10M award from USDA to facilitate water reuse solutions

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson and Paul Goeringer

Grasses in front of farm (Photos by Edwin Remsberg).

This press release can also be found on the AREC website.

College Park, MD – 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 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 by Amy Sapkota from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.

Growing concerns about the reuse of water for irrigation of crops and the scarcity of water due to temperature variations created by climate change, has a significant effect on the decisions farmers and crop growers make when it comes to using water sources. Additionally, there is lack of scientific facts and resources available to base their decisions regarding safe irrigation treatments. To address these concern, legal specialist 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 unite 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 that enable the use of non-traditional irrigation water sources. Their work will adapt the research into actual practice, while continuous feedback and evaluations will be gathered from farmers and crop growers that will measure the effectiveness of new water treatment technologies. This information will be used to create high-quality experiential educational programs to teach and train crop growers, agricultural service providers and next generation leaders engaged in sustainable water reuse on food crops.

River surrounded by grasses and forest (Grasses in front of farm (Photos by Edwin Remsberg).

Goeringer is the principal legal specialist for AREC, 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 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 that will 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 rate 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.

Ashley Ellixson

Paul Goeringer

Founded in 1856, University of Maryland, College Park is the flagship institution in the University System of Maryland. Located near Washington, D.C., the proximity to business and technology leaders, federal departments and agencies, and a myriad of research entities, embassies, think tanks, cultural centers, and non-profit organizations provides synergistic opportunities for our faculty and students. The University is committed to the Land-Grant Mission and the three missions of teaching, scholarship, and full engagement in our community, the state of Maryland, and in the world.

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