From the UF Water Institute
Three UF Water Institute affiliate faculty members have been awarded a USDA NIFA grant to assess the impacts of saltwater intrusion (SWI) in agricultural areas. The grant totals $500,000 and includes the assessment of management decisions to mitigate SWI impacts.
The team is led by Dr. Haimanote Bayabil of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). It includes Drs. Bin Gao (ABE), Yuncong Li (Soil and Water Sciences Department), and Zhaohui Tong (ABE). Drs. Bayabil, Gao, and Li are affiliated with the UF Water Institute
Using an integrated approach that includes column studies, landscape monitoring, and modeling, the team will assess the effects of increased soil salinity. Specifically, the impact on the hydrological, physical, chemical, and biological attributes of agricultural soils. The team will also investigate how salinity affects ecosystem processes that are associated with enhancing agricultural productivity (i.e. regulation of water flow, nutrient transformation, and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions). The study will finally evaluate the effectiveness of different management strategies in mitigating the negative effects of SWI, including the application of engineered biochar, salt repelling hydrogel, gypsum, and organic mulch.Dr. Bayabil, the principal investigator of the project, expects that this improved understanding of the processes and impacts of SWI on soil health will assist in guiding policy and decisions regarding best management practices to mitigate the impacts of SWI.