ABE is International: Asia

November 14, 2018

Visiting Vietnam and An Giang University

ABE Chair and Professor Dr. Kati Migliaccio and Professor Emeritus Dr. Dorota Haman

In October 2018, ABE Chair Kati Migliaccio and Professor Emeritus Dorota Haman traveled to Vietnam to visit two former ABE students – Tanh Nguyen (Kati Migliaccio served as Ph.D. advisor) and Doan Nguyet (Pratap P served as Ph.D. advisor). Tanh and Doan are now both faculty at An Giang University (AGU). Tanh is Dean and Faculty of College of Engineering, Technology, and Environment; Doan is Senior Lecturer of Department of Biotechnology and Faculty of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

In early 2018, ABE signed a memorandum of understanding with AGU with plans to collaborate including country visits, faculty and student exchanges, short courses and study abroad opportunities.

On this trip in October 2018, Dr. Migliaccio and Dr. Haman had the opportunity to participate in a joint UF-AGU Symposium, meet with the ministry of agriculture in An Giang, and visit Thu Dau Mot University. They also visited agricultural production areas including large mango plantations, vegetable production, ornamental nursery production, and fish production.

“I really enjoyed traveling through the country and learning about the Mekong Delta, challenges that growers’ face, and how the researchers and local agencies are trying to find ‘smart’ agricultural solutions,” Dr. Migliaccio. “We discovered many common interests and are looking forward to future collaborations which would include student/faculty exchange and research proposals. The hydrology of the Mekong Delta offers interesting and complex problems as the flooding cycle serves an agricultural production purpose while at times can also result in undesired circumstances. The climate in Vietnam is similar to Florida resulting in many overlapping commodities – and thus additional opportunities to explore mutually interesting agricultural goals.”

Landscapes in flux: the influence of demographic change and institutional mechanisms on land cover change, climate adaptability and food security in rural India

ABE Assistant Professor Dr. Aditya Singh

Despite considerable reductions in the number of undernourished people in the past two decades millions of children in India still suffer from high rates of stunting, malnourishment and wasting.

Even though India is a net exporter of food, local availability of food is highly variable geographically, responding to institutional factors, demographics, land use, and environmental degradation. Food availability has been influenced by increasing pressures from population growth and urbanization that have affected land use patterns in India, with the area under non-agricultural use increasing from 9.36 to 26.51 million ha between 1950 and 2011. According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, around 36.6% of the total geographical area of in India is degraded, and climate change is predicted to further aggravate this trend through increasing stresses on food production. As an example, extreme weather events affected 18.33 million ha in 2015 (compared to 0.35 million ha in 2013 and 5.5 million ha in 2014) and contributed to crop losses worth USD 3 billion. To address these issues in a holistic manner, geographically differentiated strategies are needed to address these issues, but current strategies are severely hampered by the paucity of spatially-explicit information on food security and agriculture. This information is crucial for early detection of trends and to disentangle the complex relationships between food security and land use.

In this project funded by the NASA Land Use Land Cover Change program (NASA-LCLUC), Principal Investigator Dr. Aditya Singh along with scientists and researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and local collaborators in India posit that pressures of population growth and urbanization may influence land use patterns in India, with potential agricultural land being lost to urban landuse (urbanization), forest area being converted to agriculture (deforestation) or agricultural area being lost to either plantations or fallow degraded land (abandonment.) This research therefore focuses on investigating how regional variations in patterns of land cover change emerge as a consequence of the availability – or lack thereof – of infrastructure, institutional support and policy instruments that mitigate food insecurity. In a nutshell, they are attempting to utilize mathematical models to explore these interrelated causal factors in a holistic manner to produce spatial estimates of the causes and consequences of land use/land cover change that affect key indicators of food security in India. This team eventually aim to produce regionalized assessments of land cover and land use change (LCLUC), and to relate them with putative indicators of food security in India.

Spread across six districts from different agro-climatic zones and representing some of the most socio-economically disadvantaged districts in India, the project combines mapping landscapes using satellite imagery, conducting household-scale socio-economic surveys, and combining all these data using mathematical modeling techniques. Eventually, we expect findings to throw light on explaining land cover change across the region as emergent outcomes of changes in socio-economic, demographic and policy instruments at local to regional scales. We eventually expect the project to result in 1) the development of generalized methods for large-scale land-use/land-cover mapping and change detection for the Indian mainland; 2) the development of mathematical models describing these changes in terms of proximal landscape scale factors and trends in regional demographic patterns, and, 3) the development of a methodological basis for disentangling regional indicators of food security as causes of, or effects of, regional patterns of land-use/land-cover change, demographic, institutional and socio-economic factors.

ABE Study to Study Abroad in Israel

ABE Undergraduate Sirapoom Peanusaha

ABE undergraduate Sirapoom Peanusaha will be attending an education exchange program next semester with Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. Most of the classes that he will be taking are engineering electives and one cultural class.

“I want to study abroad because I believe that staying somewhere for a semester gives a clearer cultural experience than visiting there for a few days,” Sirapoom said. “I am passionate about learning different culture, especially middle eastern and Jewish culture. Studying abroad gives me a better perspective of the world. It gives me an opportunity to learn different ways of thinking, or at least a chance to understand people from another culture more.”

ABE undergraduate student Sirapoom Peanusaha is an international student from Thailand studying biosystems.

Biosensor Technology for Monitoring Plant and Animal Physiology in China

ABE Associate Professor Dr. Eric McLamore

ABE's Dr. Eric McLamore and his team are working to research applications of biosensor technology for monitoring plant and animal physiology in China. Dr. McLamore works with colleagues at Beijing Forestry University (Prof. Y. Shin) and Chinese Academy of Sciences-Botany (Y. Wan) to measure small molecule transport near plant and animal tissues. Dr. McLamore's teaching activities involve training workshops for students from Beijing Forestry University, the Beijing Innovation Center, and Chinese Academy of Sciences-Botany. The two main focus areas are i) sensor construction/data analysis and ii) science writing (in English). This includes on site teaching in Beijing, as well as video conferences. Our interdisciplinary research connects biologists from China with engineers from the US for improving our understanding of plant and animal physiology, with a primary focus on improving the management of natural resources in the agriculture-environment-medicine nexus.

Remote Sensing and GIS in Hydrology Short Course for Taiwanese Delegation

ABE Professor Dr. Jasmeet Judge

The Center for Remote Sensing in the UF/IFAS ABE department hosts a two-week intensive course in Remote Sensing and GIS in Hydrology in the summer for delegates from Taiwan to teach state-of-the art remote sensing techniques for agricultural applications and discuss their applicability to water resource management in Taiwan.

The intensive course is offered as part of the Endowment Agreement between the UF/IFAS and the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage/Chinese Taipei Committee, Taiwan R.O.C. Taught every summer, this course serves a delegation of eight to fifteen participants from various irrigation associations and water related government agencies in Taiwan. Since 2015, the participants also include undergraduate and graduate students from National Taiwan University (NTU) funded by a donation from Mrs. Wen-Fu Shih to NTU.

Activities involved in this course include lectures, guest-lectures, laboratory demonstrations and field trips. The group travels throughout Florida where they visit Water Management Districts, State Parks, restoration project sites, and UF/IFAS Research and Education Centers for various seminars and site visits.

Participants travel to the U.S. for this continuing education to learn new remote sensing technologies that are being used in the U.S. and how these technologies can be transferred for use in Taiwan. Many of the early graduates of the course are now in top management with significant decision-making duties and are implementing new technologies. The addition of undergraduate and graduate students from NTU allows for training of next generation of remote sensing scientists in Taiwan.

Dr. Jasmeet Judge leads this intensive course that has been offered for 21 years. Dr. Judge serves as the program director for the UF/IFAS Center for Remote Sensing, which focuses on research and application of remote sensing and related technologies in order to improve agricultural production and conserve natural resources in Florida.

Dr. Kati Migliaccio with ABE Alumni Dr. Tanh Nguyen (right) and Dr. Doan Nguyet (left), who are now now both faculty at An Giang University.

UF and AGU faculty and students formed the International Symposium on Smart Technology Solutions for Sustainable Development at An Giang University.

Dr. Kati Migliaccio, Dr. Dorota Haman, Dr. Tanh Nguyen and Dr. Doan Nguyet visit mango groves while learning more about Vietnam production.

Manual paddy transplantation in Adilabad district, Telangana State, 2018.

Fig 1: The six study Districts for this project represent four major climatic regions of India: 1) Subtropical arid: Udaipur district, Rajasthan, 2) Tropical semi-arid: Adilabad and Khammam districts, Telangana, 3) Subtropical humid: Satna and Panna districts, Madhya Pradesh, and, 4) Subtropical highland: Tehri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand.

ABE undergraduate Sirapoom Peanusaha will attend an exchange program at Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel next semester.

Every summer the Center for Remote Sensing in ABE department hosts a two-week intensive course in Remote Sensing and GIS in Hydrology in the summer for delegates from Taiwa (shown above).