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Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

GIS-based weather, soils, land use, and agricultural management database in Cambodia

PI: Nareth Nut (, Royal University of Agriculture
U.S. Partner: Gilbert Sigua, USDA Agriculture Research Service Coastal Plains Soil, Water, Plant Research Center
Dates: February 2019 - January 2021

Project Overview

Because several of Cambodia’s agricultural areas have degraded soils, the country is pursuing a sustainable agriculture approach aimed at growing food in a way that not only conserves the soil but also improves its quality. Working in partnership with U.S., French, and Brazilian researchers, local Cambodian scientists have developed working technologies that enhance soil quality and intensify production of upland grain, tuber, vegetable, forage, and lowland rice crops under conservation agriculture. The goal of the current PEER-supported research project is to evaluate the capacity of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to predict soil carbon sequestration in conservation agriculture production systems compared with traditional farming systems. Moreover, the project aims at establishing a GIS-based weather, soil, land use, and agricultural management databased that will be housed in a central location for use as a baseline to help global users predict environmental degradation from current practices. SWAT can be used as a reliable model to do such simulations and to assess the environmental and profitable benefits for Cambodia if sustainable intensification practices like conservation agriculture are promoted by the government and private industry. SWAT is based on the science behind the hydrologic cycle, nutrient cycle, carbon cycle, pesticide chemical degradation and movement, soil erosion processes, and crop growth and yield, combined as an integrated process. With support provided by PEER, Cambodian researchers will collaborate with their U.S. partner to gather and format the inputs for SWAT simulation, including digital elevation maps and data on climate, soils, land use, crops, agricultural management, and types of fertilizers used. The results of the simulations will be compared with measured data (if any exist) to assess if the simulations are reasonable. Moreover, the U.S. partner will provide technical expertise needed to accomplish critical objectives of the research project, as well as access to some equipment and laboratory instruments for analyses of water, soil, and plant samples.

7-080 Taking samples 27-080 Taking samples 1
Project members collect various soil samples for analyzation. (Photo courtesy of Nareth Nut).

It is expected that the project could improve agricultural management practices in Cambodia, as well as provide synthesized data that could be useful globally. Capacity building for faculty members of the Royal University of Agriculture would be improved through the training and implementation activities involved in the project. From the GIS-based digital data collected in this proposal, research can be done with quantified data using SWAT to analyze the impact of deforestation and agriculture on the Mekong River natural flows. In addition, different types of sustainable intensification production systems can be recommended from various scenarios and environmental conservation can be simulated using SWAT. Predictions can be linked to food production, improved yield and income, and the capacity of the community to meet its food needs.

Summary of Recent Activities

During the second quarter of 2019, the PI Mr. Nareth Nut and his team collected soil samples and analyzed them for various properties, particularly soil organic carbon. The results are being fed into the APEX model, on which Mr. Nut received one month of training at the Blackland Research and Extension Center (BREC) of Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Temple, Texas, from June 3 through July 4. During this training visit, he applied his training to obtain some initial results from his project and produced a poster that he presented at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) 2019 Annual International Meeting, which was held in Boston July 7-10. Since returning home, the PI is sharing his new knowledge with students, researchers, and lecturers at the Royal University of Agriculture. In particular, he will conduct APEX training, especially for students involved in the PEER Project. The training will take place in September 2019. Furthermore, PI has been appointed as a member of the scientific committee for the Sixth International Soil and Water Assessment Tool, South-East Asia (SWAT-SEA) Conference, which will be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, October 21-26, 2019. Mr. Nut will also be presenting a paper at this conference, as will some of the student participants in the project.

Besides collaborating with the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) and Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), this PEER project also works with other government agencies such as the Department of Agricultural Engineering of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF); Conservation Agriculture Service Center (CASC) of the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA); and the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD). The Department of Agricultural Engineering has implemented a project on “Appropriate scale mechanization for Conservation Agriculture in Cambodia,”while the CASC-GDA and CIRAD are promoting ecological intensification of cropping systems to increase the profitability of small-scale farms through diversified cropping patterns, enhance soil fertility and water retention, improve integration with animal husbandry and perennial crops, and deliver high-quality technical advice. Moreover, the PEER project will also collaborate with another current PEER project on “Establishing cropland database in Cambodia from remote sensing satellite data” implemented by PI Dr. Sanara Hor of the Faculty of Land Management and Land Administration at RUA. One of the objectives of Dr. Hor’s project is to map the various crop types across lowland and highland cropland regions. Some of the outputs from the crop mapping will be used as inputs for the SWAT/APEX model to further evaluate the environmental impacts for the entire Tonle Sap Basin. Currently, this lake is being polluted from many point and non-point sources, which mainly come from agricultural practices around the lake that result in pesticides and nutrients being transferred through run-off into the lake, while sediment is also accumulating from year to year in the river and lake bed. Thanks to all these linkages, Mr. Nut’s PEER project is well positioned for leveraging and scaling up in the near future. During the remainder of 2019, the PI and his colleagues at the Blackland Research and Extension Center will be submitting their research findings for publication after obtaining and analyzing some additional data through the fieldwork component of the project. 

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