New Mexico State University’s Media Productions is part of a prestigious integrated USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture project to explore the safe use of nontraditional irrigation water on food crops.
Maintaining agricultural water security is critically important to the continued sustainable production of our nation’s food supply. In support of this goal, farmers may choose to conserve their groundwater by the safe use of nontraditional irrigation water. At the same time, the recent Food Safety Modernization Act has increased the focus on preventing foodborne contamination. To meet stricter guidelines for the quality of irrigation water used on food crops, producers need up-to-date information and transformative on-farm solutions.
Funded by USDA-NIFA and managed at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, this multidisciplinary, multistate team is addressing this need through CONSERVE (COordinating Nontraditional Sustainable watER Use in Variable climatEs): A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food and Health. The CONSERVE project includes research, Extension and education activities and will reach out to farmers, communities, educators, students and federal, state and local governments.
CONSERVE is focusing on two key regions, the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest. These two diverse climates each have regional agricultural water challenges that are exacerbated by climate change.
Currently, NMSU Media Productions is working to create animated modules to communicate key underpinnings of the project as the basis for educational curricula and outreach materials to support producer and community understanding of nontraditional irrigation water practices.
“For more than a decade, our team has partnered with national experts to promote new agricultural production and process techniques that allow consumers to enjoy fresh, raw produce while minimizing food safety concerns,” said Jeanne Gleason, head of NMSU’s Media Productions. “With this new project, we will work with even more national and international scientists to develop educational programs promoting the project’s new water management and irrigation techniques that will protect and extend our limited water supply while supporting consumers’ access to safe raw fruits and vegetables produced in a more sustainable way.”
Gleason and Barbara Chamberlin are co-directors of NMSU’s $586,500, four-year, grant-funded project that will fund their Media Productions team to develop part of the national team’s educational programs for diverse national audiences, including K-12 classrooms, university students, agricultural producers, irrigation districts and food suppliers.
Author: Amy Smith Muise – NMSU