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Webinar: The CONSERVE Program: Transdisciplinary Research, Extension, and Education at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food and Health

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Thursday, 07 December 2017, 3:00

Thursday, December 7, 2017. 3:00PM. Webinar: The CONSERVE Program: Transdisciplinary Research, Extension, and Education at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food and Health. Amy Sapkota, University of Maryland. Sponsored by ANREP and the Climate Learning Network (CLN). More information here.

The changing climate, escalating water demands from nonagricultural sectors, and depletion of groundwater sources by agricultural use are immediate challenges that call for the urgent need to explore and adopt safe, alternative irrigation strategies to sustain food production across the U.S. As a result, water reuse and the exploration of nontraditional irrigation sources have become national priorities regarding agricultural water security and the sustainable production of our food supply. At the same time, the recent Food Safety Modernization Act is shifting the focus of food safety from responding to contamination to preventing it. This emphasis towards the prevention of foodborne illnesses places great responsibility on agricultural producers, who must meet stricter guidelines regarding the quality of irrigation water used on food crops. Hence, at this critical juncture in food production, sustainable on-farm solutions are needed to enable agricultural producers to conserve groundwater and adopt safe, alternative approaches to irrigation.

To address this need, CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food, and Health was established at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health through funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). CONSERVE employs a systems approach to 1) evaluate the availability (quantity and quality) of nontraditional irrigation water sources (e.g. recycled water, brackish water, return flows) that could be used to help agricultural producers conserve groundwater; 2) identify the socio-behavioral, economic and regulatory factors that impact the use of these sources; and 3) develop, implement, and evaluate on-farm water treatment technologies for the safe and successful use of nontraditional irrigation water. We then share this new knowledge with agricultural and non-agricultural communities, and employ experiential education to teach, train, and inspire future leaders. This webinar will provide an overview of CONSERVE, as well as examples of our year 1 achievements. By the end of the webinar, participants will gain insights into the complex global picture of the potential for recycled water to become a more commonly accepted and used source for irrigation of food crops. As we move into a time of increasing water scarcity, a shift in water use strategies will be essential to sustain food production in arable land across the world.


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