UH receives $900K conservation innovation grant

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A team at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has been awarded a $900,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through a program that supports the conservation of private lands through funding projects centered on technology and innovation.

UH’s project, Forecasting daily reference evapotranspiration and rainfall for water resources conservation and sustainable agriculture, is led by principal investigators Sayed Bateni of the College of Engineering and the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), Jonathan Deenik and Jensen Uyeda of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and Aly El-Kadi of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and WRRC.

The team aims to demonstrate how farmers can conserve water and be more effective in utilizing water resources by implementing an innovative new method to model and forecast daily rainfall and evaporation in irrigation areas. The approach centers on use of an artificial neural network that breaks down complex long-term time-series into simpler units, providing more accurate forecasting.

The USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants program awarded a total of $12.5 million in 2019 to 19 different projects addressing areas including water quantity, urban agriculture, pollinator habitat and accelerating the pace and scale of conservation adoption. The goal of the program is to foster innovation to provide solutions to the most pressing issues facing farmers today, using science to support agricultural conservation and sustainability.