US Department of Agriculture Approves a $600,000 Research Plan

By: John Demmings

Quick-Take: Ram Ray, an Associate Professor and Researcher, has received nearly $600,000 from the USDA and NIFA, two US Government Organizations, to conduct research on: An Integrated Approach to Study the Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Water Quality. This page will brief you on the plans.

Ram Ray, an Associate Professor at Prairie View A&M University, has received nearly $600,000 from the USDA and NIFA, two US Government Organizations, to conduct research on an integrated approach to study the impact of climate change on agriculture and water quality. This article will brief you on the plans.

Ram Ray, Associate Professor
Dr. Ram Ray, Coordinator

A General Overview of the Plan

  • Generate projected daily climate forcing data using combined Global Circulation Model (GCM) and stochastic downscaling model for three time periods; 2030s, 2055s & 2090s
  • Quantify the impact of climate change on crop water requirement, crop nutrient, and soil and water quality for three major crops (Cotton, corn, and sorghum) at Brazos River Watershed
  • Develop a well-equipped farm testbed at the college’s demonstration farm to enhance extension and outreach activities and strengthen research capacity in Natural Resources and Environmental Systems (NRES)
  • Evaluate different adaptation measures (e.g., change in irrigation and nutrient application rates) and relative change in crop water requirement, crop yield, and soil and water quality with and without adaptation approach
  • Develop plant hardiness zone map (PHZM) for three projected time periods and educate and train limited resource, socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on outcomes of the project

Fun Fact:

Dr. Ram Ray has received over USD $2,000,000 in funding for proposals throughout his career.

The Details

In this modern era, humans have been a tremendously large source of climate change. While most look to the Arctic and Antarctic glaciers for where climate change has a drastic effect, what about agriculture? Believe it or not, climate change has a rather drastic effect on ecosystems globally. With this approved proposal, Ram Ray and his team are on a mission to discover how climate change is affecting agriculture. This project (funded by the USDA/NIFA) began in January 2019 and will continue until the end of 2021. Past studies on similar topics have determined that climate change affects the Earth’s environments over extended periods of time. Ray & his team will be using an integrated approach that would (in theory) optimize crop yields and minimize contamination that the environment would otherwise face under changing climate. The crops that will be experimented on are corn, sorghum, and cotton. The team will try to manage growth and time throughout this experiment. At least one of these three crops will be grown each year, and sampled for identifiers such as growth rate, nutrient consumption, growth by sunlight provided, etc. Until this point, the experiment has matched very closely with predictions. The team has projected climate data for 2020 throughout 2099.

A Table Showing the Plans

A Table Showing the Crops, the Year to be Planted, and The Status of the Experiment

A Map of the Testbed Site

A Map of the Testbed Site
This is a map of the plan for creating the testbed.

Fun Fact:

The crops used in the experiment (corn, sorghum, and cotton) are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and have been proven to be the most affected.

Background Information

This study will utilize an abundance of previously consummated studies, in order to get the best results. While the specifics are private to Prairie View A&M University and NIFA, we do know that it will involve research on soil types, climate, ecumenical warming, and of course, maximizing crop yield. In fact, the study will go as far as utilizing ocean currents data!

Ram Ray, In His Office

Limitations

While there is significant funding, it comes with circumscriptions. Most eminently, the experiment’s results can only be applied to the testbed area, and it can not be utilized as adequate proof to be applied anywhere other than the area itself, and areas with similar climates, soil types, etc. As you can see in the testbed map above, it is mostly in the southeastern region of Texas. Withal, this research can only be applied to sorghum, cotton, and corn, because they are the sole plants being studied, and utilizing them for other purposes can be perilous. Lastly, the experiment is not over a long timespan. 2 years is a plethora of time, but it isn’t enough to bring ensured results for this study.

Conclusion

All the points have been covered. Let’s conclude! NIFA and the USDA have approved Dr. Ram Ray’s plan. It is already in full action, and nearly half the project is done. There are three crops, corn, sorghum, and cotton, which will be experimented on, to visually perceive which is the most vulnerably susceptible to climate change and some different conceptions to minimize the negative effect. The first crop was sorghum, which was experimented on in 2019, and almost impeccably matched what was expected of it. In 2020, corn was supposed to be experimented on, and it was, for the aperture months. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there were delays, and the experiment on corn is expected to culminate around March 2021. The goal is to complete the experiments on both corn and cotton afore the terminus of 2021. With all this information, Ray and his team will make several convenient applications, maps, and tables for farmers, predicated on the result of their experiment, which will be performed on the aforementioned testbed, which farmers will be able to utilize to maximize crop yield and reduce damage caused by climate change.

 by the author.

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John Demmings

John Demmings

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Love Soil, Soil Science, Landslide Monitoring, and Research!