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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU faculty receive $1.2 million-dollar grant to address agroecosystem resilience in times of drought

New Mexico State University Associate Professor of Range Science Amy Ganguli is leading an integrated research and extension grant focused on agricultural resiliency in times of drought and climate variability. Ganguli and her team are working with farmers and ranchers to develop short- and long-term strategies that are proactive with the goal of maintaining ecological, social, and economic resilience in rural communities.


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Kate Zeigler from Zeigler Geologic Consulting is monitoring groundwater at one of the sites of the research project. The research is focusing on working with farmers and ranchers to develop short- and long-term strategies that are proactive with the goal of maintaining ecological, social, and economic resilience in rural communities. (Courtesy photo)
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From left to right: New Mexico State University Assistant Professor Rajan Ghimire, NMSU undergraduate student Taylor Sanchez, NMSU grad student Jeremy Schallner and Oklahoma State University undergraduate student Alyssa Whiteman are seen discussing the use of cover crops for resilience. Additional expertise for this project comes from Zeigler Geologic Consulting, the USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. (Courtesy photo)

This project will link land-use and land-cover dynamics to agricultural and groundwater policies and supporting effective land and groundwater management by co-producing knowledge using citizen science.

“Resilience-based management strategies developed through this process will be shared via extension and outreach programs. Ganguli said. “We will be informed by extensive feedback from farmers and ranchers in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado, this is truly a bottom-up project.”

The project spans across four departments within the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences: Animal and Range Science, Plant and Environmental Science, Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources and Innovative Media Research and Extension. Three off-campus science centers which include Los Lunas, Clovis and the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center are also part of this highly collaborative project.

“This grant fits under the Four Pillars for the ACES college,” Rolando Flores, Dean of ACES said.

Ganguli added that the project also supports all components of NMSU’s land-grant mission.

Descriptive interviews and surveys of land managers and residents across three counties which include Union County in New Mexico, Cimarron County in Oklahoma and Las Animas County in Colorado together with land-use and land-cover analyses from the Southern Great Plains, will deepen understanding of how individuals make land and groundwater management decisions.

“Understanding groundwater resources and climate patterns is at the root of informed decision-making at both local and regional levels. Adding this information to baseline monitoring of precipitation and plant productivity will provide landowners with the materials they need to make resilience-based decisions while contributing to regional and national datasets,” Ganguli said.

John Flores, NMSU president said this project will help us know just what we need to do in order to keep our country’s future food security safe for generations to come.

"Our country's future food security needs and our ability to grow the food and agricultural sector of our economy depend on improving the efficiency, resilience and sustainability of the system," John Floros, NMSU president said. "In order to develop a sustainable food and agricultural system for future generations, we must learn how to manage our natural resources better, particularly our scarce water resources in the Southern Great Plains. We must also understand the impact of the changing climate on agricultural production. Our farmers and ranchers need better management approaches and in that respect, this study will help significantly."

Ganguli and her team believes that sustainable management solutions are more effectively developed and more likely adopted using participatory approaches like citizen science.

“Our research and extension teams will foster the co-production of knowledge with land managers and will disseminate this information in formal and informal programs and educational materials,” Ganguli said.

Additional expertise for this project comes from Zeigler Geologic Consulting, the USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma.

The project was awarded a total of $1.18 million dollars from the USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.