Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Global food security through reducing water consumption in perennial crops "

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Summer 2017 - DURI
Research area(s):
Food security, food science, engineering, public policy.
Project Description:
Crop irrigation accounts for 80% to 90% of all freshwater use in the United States. Despite the $250 billion contributions of perennial crops (e.g., almonds, grapes) to the US economy, irrigation technology for perennial crops lags behind the technology used in row crops (e.g., corn, wheat). The project’s goal is to first deploy new irrigation technologies in the US for a 15% reduction in water consumption growers of perennial crops. Then, we aim to export our methods and technologies abroad. In doing so, we aim to reduce the global reliance on fresh water for perennial crops and increase the economic and social stability of agriculturally dependent communities to climate change. This project will be part of the Big Idea Challenge project led by Prof. David Ebert, "Harnessing Technology and Information Fusion to Enable Resilient and Sustainable Food-Water Balance under Evolving Environmental Conditions" Overview: By the year 2030, food production must be increased by 70 percent in order to feed a larger world population. Today, almost 80 percent of the world’s fresh water withdrawals from rivers, lakes and aquifers go to agriculture. Ebert and his collaborators will develop a human-computer collaborative decision-making system for sustainable agriculture that takes into account the complex relationships between real-world data, the socio-political environment and on-the-ground practices. The system will provide planners and policy- and decision-makers with more accurate information than previously possible, helping growers to optimize crop yields and minimize use of water and other resources.
Expected Student Contributions:
1) Perform a literature review and synthesize the global research efforts to reduce water consumption in perennial crops. 2) Identify and report on geographic areas which are most reliant on perennial crops and susceptible to political, economic, and social destabilization. 3) Develop a plan and identify challenges to export the project’s technologies abroad.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
A background in food science, engineering, and/or public policy.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Ebert, David
electrical and computer eng

Student Supervisor

Chittayong Surakitbanharn
electrical and computer eng

Cooperating Faculty

Christian E Butzke
Food Science