University of Florida

Projects 2012

  • 1201: Sensitivity of microwave backscatter to soil moisture in growing vegetation
  • 1202: Evaluation of the use of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) to estimate actual evapotranpsiration (10% field work; 90% analysis and modeling)
  • 1203: Investigate using Bowen Ratio measurements for evapotranspiration estimation in turf grass systems (10% field work; 90% analysis and modeling)
  • 1204: Identification of water stress in citrus leaves using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy.
  • 1205: Production of biochar from hollow fiber membrane bioreactor digestion residue
  • 1206: Assessing Watershed Management Options in the Middle East
  • 1207: Sustainable irrigation of ornamental plants using graywater
  • 1208: Colloids transport in surface runoff through dense vegetation
  • 1209: Understanding salinity stress in citrus
  • 1210 and 1211: Water Quality Monitoring in Agricultural Watersheds of the Semiarid Tropics in India

ID# 1201: Sensitivity of microwave backscatter to soil moisture in growing vegetation

Prof. Jasmeet Judge | UF Main Campus, Gainesville, FL

Remotely sensed information at microwave frequencies, particularly at frequencies below 10 GHz are highly sensitive to changes in soil water in the top few centimeters of the soil. Such information can be used to improve water balance in the hydrology models. However, as the vegetation grows, the contribution of the soil to the overall signature reduces, decreasing the sensitivity of the microwave signatures to soil moisture. Ground-based sensors along with remote sensing models can be used to understand the sensitivities for growing vegetation. The main objectives of this project include comparing various data processing techniques for radar observations at low frequencies of 1.26GHz and understand the sensitivity of backscattered signatures to changes in soil moisture as the vegetation grows.
In addition to accomplishing the above objectives, the student involved in this project will have a unique opportunity to participate in data collection, calibration and maintenance of sensors during an ongoing field experiments. The field work will be conducted for 2-3 days per week. Examples of observations obtained during previous experiments can be found here.

Skills required: The project will be conducted using Fortran 90 and Matlab on Linux OS. The student is expected to have taken at least one course in a programming language, and have a strong interest in enhancing his/her understanding in transfer of electromagnetic radiation, computer modeling, and statistics.

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ID# 1202: Evaluation of the use of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) to estimate actual evapotranpsiration (10% field work; 90% analysis and modeling)

Prof. Kati Migliaccio | TREC, Homestead, FL

Evaluating water balance components in residential locations worldwide is needed as residential land cover expands and demand on our fresh water supplies continually increases. A research site, representative of turf grass systems, was established in a residential area in south Miami, FL, near Snapper Creek Canal in 2010. The site is a well field for potable water in the area. To better quantify water balance components, the US Geological Survey (USGS) established an eddy covariance system at this site for collecting evapotranspiration (ET) data. We complemented this equipment with additional sensors (i.e., soil temperature, air temperature, relative humidity, soil heat flux, infrared radiation, incoming solar radiation, reflected radiation, net radiation, soil water content) and data loggers to collect information for completing water and energy balances. Recently a PAR sensor was added to gain additional information regarding the ET portion of the water balance.


Data collected from 2010 to present shows differences between ET weather-based estimation methods (Penman-Monteith and Turc) and ET derived from the USGS eddy covariance data. Some researchers have suggested that daily light integral (DLI), which is determined from PAR data, provides a better estimate of water use in plant systems and thus provides a good surrogate value for estimating actual ET. The goal of this project is to use the dataset starting in 2012 and compare the weather-based ET estimation methods and the eddy covariance ET values to a new ET equation developed using the DLI values and regression statistics. The project involves about 10% field work and 90% analysis and modeling. The student will also participate in on-going UF IFAS Extension programming in Miami-Dade County related to water conservation and assist with other long-term research projects at the Tropical Research and Education Center. Please note that this project is located off-campus in Homestead, Florida.


Skills required: Competent in Microsoft Excel, mathematics, equation optimization, goodness-of-fit indicators, hydrology. Ability and interest in field work for data collection. Detail-oriented personalities would best fit this type of project as data sets are large and must be reviewed for quality prior to any analysis.

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ID# 1203: Investigate using Bowen Ratio measurements for evapotranspiration estimation in turf grass systems (10% field work; 90% analysis and modeling)

Prof. Kati Migliaccio | TREC, Homestead, FL

Evaluating water balance components in residential locations worldwide is needed as residential land cover expands and demand on our fresh water supplies continually increases. A research site, representative of turf grass systems, was established in a residential area in south Miami, FL, near Snapper Creek Canal in 2010. The site is a well field for potable water in the area. To better quantify water balance components, the US Geological Survey (USGS) established an eddy covariance system at this site for collecting evapotranspiration (ET) data. We complemented this equipment with additional sensors (i.e., soil temperature, air temperature, relative humidity, soil heat flux, infrared radiation, incoming solar radiation, reflected radiation, net radiation, soil water content) and data loggers to collect information for completing water and energy balances.


While these efforts include an eddy covariance system that measure actual ET, this is not always a practical option for all those interested in determining this component of the water balance. We would like to find cheaper and easier way to estimate actual ET in turf grass systems. One method to do this would be to use the Bowen Ratio from the eddy covariance data and other energy measurements (such as net radiation and surface heat flux) to estimate actual ET. The goal of this project will be to investigate eddy covariance data collected since 2010 for use in Bowen Ratio development that would then be used in calculating actual ET. Results from this approach would be compared to other weather based methods to identify differences. The project involves about 10% field work and 90% analysis and modeling. The student will also participate in on-going UF IFAS Extension programming in Miami-Dade County related to water conservation and assist with other long-term research projects at the Tropical Research and Education Center. Please note that this project is located off-campus in Homestead, Florida.


Skills required: Competent in Microsoft Excel, mathematics, equation optimization, goodness-of-fit indicators, hydrology. Ability and interest in field work for data collection. Detail-oriented personalities would best fit this type of project as data sets are large and must be reviewed for quality prior to any analysis.

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ID# 1204: Identification of water stress in citrus leaves using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy.

Prof. Reza Ehsani | CREC, Lake Alfred, FL

Detection of water stress in citrus is critical to achieve maximum productivity from citrus groves. When the citrus trees undergo stress, a number of physiological changes occur such as there are changes in photosynthetic and respiration rates to conserve maximum water. Some of these physiological changes can affect the nutrient composition in leaves. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is a simple technique that shows potential to measure nutrient elements in leaves. In this project, the overall goal will be to utilize a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy for identifying water stressed citrus leaves. The project will involve data acquisition and analysis to evaluate the application of LIBS for detecting water stress in citrus leaves. The student will learn to develop experimental design for data collection to evaluate the performance of LIBS for identifying water stressed leaves. The student will collect water-stressed leaves from citrus trees in field or greenhouse. The student will be trained to operate the laser-induced breakdown spectrometer. Student will collect samples, acquire spectral data, preprocess and analysis the data using statistical program to assess the potential of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy for detecting water stress in citrus.

Skills required: The project will involve extensive use of Matlab for data processing and analysis. Student is expected to have good working knowledge of this program, and have a strong background in statistical methods and pattern recognition tools. Prior working knowledge on spectroscopic methods (such as visible-near infrared spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) is preferred.

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ID# 1205: Production of biochar from hollow fiber membrane bioreactor digestion residue

Prof. Bin Gao | UF Main Campus, Gainesville, FL

A proof of concept study will be conducted for demonstrating the potential of producing Biochar with residue from a novel hollow fiber membrane biofilm reactor. Hollow fiber membrane bioreactors are a leading candidate among available technologies for closed loop bioregenerative systems due to reduced aeration cost, high aerial conversion rates, low energy demand, and limited maintenance. The modular cartridge design is easily replaceable, rapidly deployable, resilient to shock loading, and can be scaled for various wastestream loads. However, the detached biofilm and excess sludge residue is commonly disposed in landfills, which is an unsustainable practice. If this residue could be used to create a useable resource, it would represent a significant advancement in the field of sustainability. HfMBR residue will undergo high temperature (300, 450, and 600°C) pyrolysis in a nitrogen environment, producing three types of biochars. The pH, surface area, ion exchange capacity, hydrophobicity and net surface charge of synthesized biochars will be investigated and all properties compared to standard agro-biochar. We anticipate that the production of biochar using this technique may be an economically and environmentally beneficial use of anaerobic digester leachate, and bioenergy (oil and syngas) can potentially be used to heat digesters or power pyrolysis. As part of a collaborative project with Dr. McLamore’s bioreactor group, the resulted biochars will be used to treat graywater and subsequently used to irrigate ornamental crops.

Skills required: basic chemistry and basic physics

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ID# 1206: Assessing Watershed Management Options in the Middle East

Prof. Jeff Ullman | UF Main Campus, Gainesville, FL

It is important to critically assess different watershed management options in the Middle East due to the limited water supply in this largely arid region. This is particularly relevant from the perspective of increasing demands on water resources due to population growth and climate change. Thus, there is a vital need to develop more rigorous decision-support tools to provide water resource managers with pertinent information regarding the potential impacts that may result based on the implementation of different management options available to them.

This project will incorporate aspects of remote sensing, hydrologic modeling and GIS applications to provide insight into the potential ramifications associated with different watershed management options in Jordan. The student will primarily assess climate change implications at a watershed-scale using the WEAP (Water Evaluation and Planning) system. The results will then be supported by field data collected in Jordan at the culmination of the project.

Skills required: The student is expected to be competent in basic computer skills and have a basic concept of hydrology and watershed management. Field data will be collected under desert conditions during the summer, so the student must have the ability and willingness to work under difficult field conditions for a portion of the project.


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ID# 1207: Sustainable irrigation of ornamental plants using graywater

Prof. Eric McLamore | UF Main Campus, Gainesville, FL
Water and energy are critical resources which are intertwined in nearly every facet of our infrastructure. Emerging issues which challenge this infrastructure include: climate change, a diminishing water supply in the face of increasing population growth, the cost and availability of energy in an economic recession, and limited landfill space. Management of water and energy in the 21st century will require a paradigm shift in how we manage urban and rural infrastructure. This research is part of a closed loop decentralized bioregenerative system for producing water and energy based on biomimetic and biogenic principles. As part of an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Gao’s biochar group, a proof of concept study will be conducted for demonstrating treatment of treated graywater from a biofilm reactor with Biochar to acceptable standards for irrigating ornamental plants commonly used in Florida. Biochar will be produced by Dr. Gao’s group from a bioreactor processing blackwater. Biochar will be placed in a 50L drum with graywater at three different hydraulic residence times (2, 6, and 12 hours). Water quality will be measured after biochar treatment, and the treated wastewater will then be used to drip irrigate 12 ft. by 24 ft plant beds containing blanketflower (Galliardia pulchella), blazing star (Liatris spicata), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium atlanticum) and muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillsris). Leaf size, flower production, and nitrogen uptake rate will be measured each week. After 30 days of continuous irrigation, soil cores will be taken at depths of 0, 25, 20, and 100cm and analyzed for sodium adsorption ratio, pH, and indicator organisms (total coliforms, E. coli and enterococci). This research will develop a low cost treatment method for irrigating ornamental plants using household graywater, which would significantly reduce household water demand.

Skills Required: basic wet chemistry techniques, soil sampling, plant biology, microbiology

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ID# 1208: Colloids transport in surface runoff through dense vegetation

Prof. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena | UF Main Campus, Gainesville, FL

Transport of suspended colloidal particles in water flow is an important contamination process that can lead to the deterioration of surface and groundwater quality. Pathogenic biocolloids (viri and bacteria) and abiotic colloid-toxicant complexes (industrial nanoparticles, metals) are emerging contaminants that have shown high mobility in hydrologic pathways and received increased attention recently. Significant research efforts have been made to understand colloid and colloid-facilitated transport in the subsurface. However, our ability to predict colloid fate in surface runoff remains in its infancy, especially with respect to in overland flow through the emergent terrestrial vegetation. There is a critical need to carry out a systematic investigation to identify the fundamental processes of colloid filtration and transport in dense surface vegetation.


Our long-term research goal is to determine the governing mechanisms and theories of colloid transport through emergent terrestrial vegetation in overland flow. The overall objective of this REU project is to contribute to the development and upscaling of a single-collector efficiency theory for plant filtration of colloids in laminar shallow overland flow. It is our central hypothesis that the stems of the surface vegetation can modeled as rigid filtration collectors for colloids in shallow overland flow. A range of laboratory mesoscale experiments and modeling tools will be used in the proposed study to develop the plant filtration theory of colloids in shallow overland flow. In particular, we will investigate the application of fundamental concepts developed for model vegetation (rigid cylindrical collectors) to real vegetation (grass stems) under different environmental conditions.


As part of a collaborative project with Dr. Gao’s Environmental Natotechnology group, the findings from this study will help improve engineering design computer models in order to make possible more accurate predictions of conditions under which water contamination can take place, towards achieving an ultimate goal of controlling the adverse effects of the colloid-facilitated transport of pollutants to protect water quality.

Skills required: basic chemistry and basic physics

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ID# 1209: Understanding salinity stress in citrus

Prof. Jim Syvertsen | CREC, Lake Alfred, FL

In Florida, high salinity in irrigation water and soil are problematic for citrus growers in most
Flatwoods areas on the east coast and south Florida as well as in many coastal areas where high salinity levels in water wells can be attributed to salt water intrusion. Salinity issues in Florida are usually short term as salt stress typically only occurs during spring and fall months with an intervening summer rainy period. Urban and agricultural competition for good quality water along with periods of drought, require that salinity management is sometimes an important component of irrigation management. Citrus trees are relatively salt sensitive so that high levels of salts in irrigation water can compromise plant water relations resulting in water stress even when soils have a relatively high water content. High salinity almost always results in lower yields and growth but there is a wide range of salinity tolerance in citrus rootstocks. The more water plants use, the more salts they are exposed to so responses to salinity are closely related to plant evapotranspiration. Mechanisms of salt tolerance in citrus include sequestration of toxic ions in roots, osmotic adjustment in leaves and the ability to tolerate normally toxic levels of Cl and Na ions in plant tissues. This proposed research is part of an ongoing project to increase understanding of salt tolerance in citrus. We will compare water relations, growth, photosynthesis and mineral nutrition of citrus rootstock genotypes under salt stress in the greenhouse. Many of these genotypes are new and unique genetic combinations that have emerged from our variety improvement program. Salinity treatments to seedlings will be applied in combination with nutrient solutions and growth and physiological responses of plants will be monitored over a period of 8 weeks. Water quality of irrigation and leachate solutions will be evaluated to develop salt and nutrient budgets. Analysis of leaf transpiration, plant water use and growth along with nutrient and salt ion concentrations in leaves and roots will provide information pertaining to mechanisms of salt tolerance in these citrus genotypes. Ultimately, the linkage of such mechanisms with their genotypic heritability will contribute to increasing salinity tolerance in new varieties of citrus.

The student will also have opportunities to participate in on-going UF IFAS Extension programming and assist with other long-term research projects at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida.  Please note that this project is located off-campus in central Florida.


Skills required: Ability learn how to operate a portable photosynthesis system, knowledge of soil/plant water relations and routine laboratory instruments for wet chemistry. An interest in plant culture in the greenhouse is expected. Competence in Microsoft Excel, regression analyses, graphics and data presentation.

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ID #1210 and 1211: Water Quality Monitoring in Agricultural Watersheds of the Semiarid Tropics in India

Prof. Rao Mylavarapu | India

Successful agriculture is entirely dependent on monsoon rains in the semiarid tropics and effects of climate change have been pronounced in the timing, magnitude and the rate of seasonal rainfall in these areas of the world. Over 800 million people live in the rainfed areas of the world, which comprises of approximately 80% of world agriculture yet contributing to an estimated 58% per cent of the global food basket. Over 50% of these areas fall in China and Indian subcontinent. In order to address the critical issues of water conservation, in India, watershed development programs are being implemented at the highest priority rating. Numerous watersheds have been developed in the recent years throughout the country and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semiarid Tropics (ICRISAT), a CGIAR research institution headquartered in Hyderabad, India, has led the training and implementation programs for these regions. While conservation measures for water quantity are emphasized in these regions, it has been recognized that water quality in these watersheds is as severe as the water availability due to scarcity and pollution.

The projects will involve two students conducting research at the two priority watersheds developed and implemented by ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India, one on-campus and one at Kothapally, a model watershed in the region, about 20 km from the ICRISAT campus. Both the watersheds have been ideal locations for educational training, on-hand-experiences and long term monitoring, under the guidance of research teams and experts at ICRISAT.  The students will stay at the ICRISAT campus during the REU Program to collect data on various water quality parameters in these two watersheds. The parameters include suspended solids, pH, specific conductance, turbidity, nitrate, total nitrogen, ammonium, phosphorus, etc., among other things. The process of conducting data analyses to characterize watershed and its pollutant sources begins with broad assessments such as evaluating the averages, minimums, and maximums of the parameters. The students will collect water samples from the waterbodies, three times during the project, using standard field protocols under guidance of the ICRISAT researchers.  The samples will be analyzed for various chemical parameters at the ICRISAT Analytical Laboratory using standardized methods and QA protocols under the guidance lab chemists. The students will analyze the data for trends in the chemical composition and interpret the suitability for irrigation and possible remediation methods. 

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Vegetation sampling
Vegetation sampling

vegetation sampling
Vegetation sampling

L-band microwave radiometer
L-band microwave radiometer

 

 

 

 

 


Harvesting Papayas
Papaya Harvest

Groundwater well data collection
Groundwater well data

Soil / Water field equipment
Soil & Water Field Equipment

































 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


UAV

Orange Grove

NDVI Image

Orange Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biochar Sample
Biochar Sample

Biochar Land Application
Biochar Land Application

biochar Land Application
Biochar Land Application

 

 

 

 

 

Ullman Project Picture

 

Ullman Project Picture 2

 

Ullman Project Picture 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McLamore Project Picture 2

McLamore Grey Water Project

Irrigation using graywater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Munoz-Carpena Figure 1

Munoz-Carpena Figure 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syvertsen Citrus Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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