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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)


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

PI: Nareth Nut (nnareth@rua.edu.kh), 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

7-079 Poster Presentation
Poster presentation at the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.
 
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.

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.

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

Summary of Recent Activities

On January 9, 2020, the PI Mr. Nut and his team displayed posters during the visit of Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy to the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA). The PI personally presented a poster describing activities under the PEER project to the minister and ambassador. The minister stressed that the RUA team should be able to apply some of their modelling tools to help address environmental issues in Cambodia, and he encouraged them to join forces with other professional modelers in Cambodia. In an effort to scale up the concept of modelling using the SWAT and APEX models to predict and compare environmental impacts of management practices of traditional farming and conservation agriculture in Cambodia, particularly in Tonle Sap and the Mekong River Basin, the PI has teamed up with other universities, government agencies, and international development organizations. These include Kansas State University, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Swisscontact, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, and other RUA researchers. They are collaborating to prepare a concept note for submission under a call for proposals from a Swiss-supported program called TRANSFORM. In addition, the PI and his Master’s student delivered oral and poster presentations at the 11th International Conference on Environmental and Rural Development (The 11th CERD) and the 2nd Conference on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (2nd SAIN Conference), which were held in Siem Reap Province February 28 through March 1.

In May 2020, when the rainy season comes, the PI and his team will collect some additional field data for the project, as well as required data for the student’s thesis, in Battambang and Kampong Thom Provinces. The fieldwork will involve collecting soil samples and calculating nutrient leakages from the rice paddies. U.S. partner Dr. Gilbert Sigua had received a PEER travel supplement to visit Cambodia in May as well, but due to the COVID-19 crisis his trip has had to be postponed until the public health situation improves and international travel restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, the PI, Dr. Sigua, and the team at the Blackland Research and Extension Center in Texas will collaborate remotely on data analysis and draft some manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication. The PI has already submitted two abstracts for presentation at the 2020 Annual International Meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, to be held July 12–15, in Omaha, Nebraska. Due to budget constraints, the presentations will be made by Dr. Jahaek Joeng of the Blackland Center, if the COVID situation allows the conference to be held. Later in 2020, circumstances permitting, Mr. Nut will work with other RUA and Royal University of Phnom Penh researchers to organize a dissemination workshop or seminar to share their results.


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