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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

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 last quarter of 2019, the PI Mr. Nareth Nut facilitated the participation of the supporting students on his project (one Master’s student and five undergraduates) at the sixth SWAT-SEA International Conference and Workshop, which was held in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, October 21-26, 2019. The workshop featured parallel breakout sessions aimed at participants at different levels, so the students were assigned as appropriate, attending either the Beginner SWAT, Advanced SWAT, or APEX workshop, while during the conference they could attend the sessions according to their research interests. After returning to Phnom Penh, the students were required to present what they had learned to the other team members who did not attend, so that all the team members could benefit. At the conference, the PI presented his research findings and assisted the invited trainer (Dr. Jaehak Jeong) during the APEX workshop. Moreover, the PI also served as the moderator in the conference session devoted to Sensitivity Calibration and Uncertainty.

Also this past quarter, the PI purchased some additional equipment to measure nutrient and pesticide leakage from the fields so the students can use the APEX and SWAT models to simulate nutrient cycling as part of their thesis research. After obtaining the new items, on November 21-25, 2019, the PI and his team collected soil data and soil and water samples at their field sites to analyze nutrient leakage from the rice fields.

To kick off the new year, PI and his team prepared posters to explain their PEER-supported project activities during the visit of U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy and Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon to the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) on January 9, 2020. They also plan to present some research findings at the 11th International Conference on Environmental and Rural Development (11th ICERD), which will be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, February 28 - March 1, 2020. Moreover, in the next few months, the PI, U.S. partner Dr. Gilbert Sigua, Dr. Jeong, and the rest of the team from the Blackland Research and Extension Center will work on manuscripts to submit for publication. With support provided by a PEER U.S. Partner Cooperation Supplement, Dr. Sigua will be visiting RUA and the project field sites in May 2020.


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