Centers and Projects

  • As a land-grant institution within the state of Maryland, UMES provides leadership for research in the agricultural, food, and biomedical sciences as well as in natural resource conservation and use. Over the years, the SANS research program has established and maintained strong collaborative partnerships with state and federal agencies as well as other academic institutions. Such linkages have allowed the program to be highly responsive to priorities in Maryland and the nation. 

    The recent development of strategic clusters, centers, and units within the School makes for enhanced effectiveness in each of its three mission areas (teaching, research, and extension) as well as increased competitiveness and impact despite the increasingly unpredictable economic environment. 

    The clusters have been strategically formed to capture some of the competitive strengths of the school.  Broad subject areas include: Human Health and Development, Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability, Agriculture and Food, and Product Development.  Specific subject areas include, but are not limited to: infectious diseases; food safety; water resources and watershed management; toxicology and environmental health; sustainable energy; agribusiness, trade and economic development; commercial agriculture; poultry and small ruminant development; protective clothing; fashion merchandizing, and more.

    Support for the School's research comes from several sources: the Evans-Allen Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, several state departments; a number of federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health; and the private sector.

     

    SANS Centers of Excellence

    Agribusiness and Economic Development

    The mission of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development is to conduct credible economic development research; facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas across business, academic, and governmental communities domestically and internationally; and educate stakeholders concerning agribusiness and economic development issues through community engagement and outreach.

    Center for Food Safety

    The mission of the Center for Food Safety is to conduct research the covers food safety, food quality, and processing methods. The center will facilitate collaborations among academics, the food industry, and government entities and educate various groups about food safety issues.

    Chesapeake Water Quality Center

    The Chesapeake Water Quality Center will develop and transfer economically sustainable agricultural strategies and technologies that enhance water quality in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays and will train the workforce of tomorrow for continued future innovations.

    Center for Obesity Prevention

    The Center for Obesity Prevention is poised to accelerate the progress in obesity prevention through effective and holistic programs that address key underlying determinants of obesity and enhance an effective and sustainable behavior change.  The mission of the Center is to provide educational programs, research-based information, and technology transfer that focus on obesity prevention and the needs of individuals in the tri-county area of the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and nationwide, enabling them to make informed decisions about their health and their economic, social, and cultural well-being.

    International Center for Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Operators and Re-entry Workers

    ICPPE is a neutral entity established by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to advance research and outreach activities through partnerships with other institutions and organizations.  It is envisioned that ICPPE will play an important role in establishing linkages and networks with scientists, policy makers, educators, private industry, and other stakeholders to promote research, outreach, and other PPE-related initiatives that impact the health and safety of pesticide operators and re-entry workers.  Coordination of the newly formed International Consortium for PPE for Pesticide Operators and Re-entry Workers will be an integral part of the Center.

    Current Projects

    UMES RREA Program

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Maryland is a growing state that is rapidly becoming urbanized, with changes in demographics and economic and political patterns that affect forest ownership and management. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will therefore develop educational programs to help all owners with forestland of any size to understand the value of their forestland and to manage their land following sustainable forest stewardship techniques. An emphasis will be placed on helping the underserved and/or minority forestland owners.There are 2.4 million acres of forestland in Maryland, covering almost 43% of the total land area, with 75% being family-owned and covering more than 1.8 million acres. There are 130,800 private forest landowners in Maryland that own 78% of the forestland. Seventy-five percent of these forestland owners own less than 10 acres, with an average forest holding of about 17 acres. It is important to note that private forestland protects and supplies more than two-thirds of Maryland's drinking water.In addition, Maryland is a very diverse state consisting of forestland owners who are residents, absentees, private owners, incorporated, farmers, urban owners, politically motivated, or minority owners who all own for a variety of reasons (recreation, wildlife, timber resources, profitability). This poses a challenge to Maryland extension educators, for there is no one program that can fill all the needs of this diverse audience. UMES will, therefore, focus on program development and evaluation and educate forestland owners about the following: the value of forestland; how to manage forestland in a profitable and sustainable manner; ecosystem service values; the benefits of biomass as an alternative fuel source; how to improve wildlife habitats; and sustainable logging practices.Another goal of the program is to inform policy makers about the value of managing forestland resources while using forest stewardship practices that will help ensure a sustainable source of forest products and wildlife as well as lend to water quality and aesthetics that contribute to the quality of life for all Maryland citizens.

    OBJECTIVES: The goals of the UMES RREA project is: (1) to develop education programs for forestland owners with a land area of any size; (2) to ensure healthy ecosystems; and (3) to enhance resource management for working forests and rangelands with specific objectives to provide and facilitate: educational information to protect water and wetlands in forests and rangelands areas; educational programs related to woodlands (forestry) to help limited-resource, underserved, and socially disadvantaged landowners implement forestry BMPs; and educational information regarding successful legal property transfer.

    Potential Availability of Urban Wood Waste Stream: Their conversion to Platform Chemicals for the Synthesis of Novel Bio-Energy/Bio-Products in Maryland

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Urban forest/wood waste-streams (UFWWS) in Maryland (MD) represent potential raw material sources for producing platform chemicals that can be converted to higher value-added products for its emerging bio-economy. The current practice of landfilling urban/wood waste-streams is expensive (tipping fees) and eventually results in long-term environmental problems. Further, current products from this resource are high-volume, low-value products such as landscape mulch, soil conditioner, animal bedding, compost additive, etc. A multidisciplinary collaborative research effort between the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and a scientist from West Virginia University's Division of Forestry and Natural resources will address this problem through the following objectives: a) estimate available UFWWS in 60 towns/cities in Maryland; and b) develop alternate low-volume, high-value novel bio-energy/bio-products from these waste-streams to meet MD's emerging bio-economy market. This proposal responds directly to the research needs of foresters, arboriculturalists, Natural resource managers, researchers, as well as directly addresses one of the high priority areas of the Capacity Building Grant Program - bioenergy/biofuel and natural resource. The proposedresearch seeks to upgrade the research capability of the urban forestry program at UMES by providing experiential research training toundergraduate, graduate students, and a post-doctoral fellow.Findings from this research will be distributed through several mechanisms: fact sheets, poster and conference presentations, refereed journal articles, UMES urban forestry website, to stakeholders (Maryland DNR, arborists, forest products utilization companies, etc.).

    OBJECTIVES: The goal of this project is to develop baseline data on available urban forestry.wood waste streamsin Maryland, and develop novel methods for converting waste streams to platform chemicals for producing value-added bio-products. Objective 1: Estimation of available urban forestry/wood waste streams in Maryland, and Objective 2: To develop novel methods for converting urban forestry/wood waste streams to platform chemicals for producing value-added bio-products.

    Prevalence and Antimicrobial Resistance of Salmonella in Organic and Non-Organic Chickens

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: With over one million cases each year in the United States (U.S), salmonellosis is the number one foodborne illness that results in hospitalization and/or death, and causes approximately $365 million in annual direct medical costs. Salmonella is common in poultry and is spread to humans by contaminated meat. The continual recovery of antibiotic resistant (AR) bacteria is a global epidemic and non-typhoidal AR Salmonella is said to be responsible for 100,000 illness and approximately 40 deaths in the U.S. A few studies were conducted on the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella in retail chicken. However, adequate information is not available about the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella in organic and non-organic chickens at retail stores on Delmarva. The overall goal of this study is to address this data gap through following five specific objectives: 1) to determine the prevalence of Salmonella in organic and non-organic chickens; 2) to serotype Salmonella isolates recovered from organic and non-organic chickens; 3) to investigate antimicrobial resistance profiles for these isolates; 4) to explore the virulence properties of isolated Salmonella; and 5) to develop outreach and extension programs for control of Salmonella in organic and non-organic chickens. The findings of this study will also define the antibiotic resistant profiles and virulence properties of Salmonella recovered from two groups of chickens on Delmarva. This multidisciplinary initiative will also enhance the research capacity of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in food and agricultural sciences through training of faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and active collaboration with the poultry industry.

    OBJECTIVES: The overall goal of this study is to investigate the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella in organic and non-organic chickens at retail stores on Delmarva.The specific goals are as follows:To determine the prevalence of Salmonella in organic and non-organic chickens.To serotype Salmonella isolates recovered from organic and non-organic chickensTo investigate antimicrobial resistance profiles for these isolates.To explore the virulence properties of Salmonella isolated from organic and non-organic chickens.To develop outreach and extension programs for control of Salmonella in organic and non-organic chickens.

    Potential of Day Neutral Strawberries Using Nanotechnology on the Delmarva Peninsula

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Historically the tri-county (Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico) area was the hub for strawberry production on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. However, the current production is zero in Somerset and negligible in Worcester, and Wicomico counties. However, in Virginia strawberry acreage is relatively higher (263 acres), but production is seasonal and restricted to the summer season. The cultivation of June-bearing strawberries is the major source of farm income during the spring season and thereafter most of the produce is imported. We are proposing a holistic approach to extend the strawberry season beyond spring to sustain local farm income using day-neutral strawberries (DNS) on the Delmarva Peninsula. We will evaluate the potential of several DNS cultivars in terms of growth and development, and yield in the field and low tunnel conditions. This work will also help in the identification and later on forecast of various DNS diseases endemic on the Eastern Shore and Virginia. We will introduce nanotechnology for the sustainable management of fungal and insect borne diseases in DNS. Zinc and sulfur are abundantly found in the earth's crust and both are an integral part of tri-County soils. Our approach will provide new avenues for the cultivation of organic strawberries.

    OBJECTIVES: Strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne ex Rozier) are the important fruit crop in America and contributed $2.5 billion to the US economy in 2012 (Curt et al., 2015). In addition, strawberry is the top most fruit crop in the mid-Atlantic and valued $250 to $500/hundredweight in 2015 (Swett, 2016). Earlier (1919) USDA-NASS Census of Agriculture showed the existence of 5,260 strawberry farms and 7,000 acreage with strawberry cultivation in Maryland (MD), which is now restricted to 187 farms and 220 acres (USDA-NASS, 2012). These data show a decline in strawberry acreage by 97% within a century. There are only 24 small strawberry farms grown on only 26 acres in the Wicomico and Worcester Counties (USDA-NASS, 2012). Moreover, the renowned strawberry industry of the Somerset County, which was locally boasted as a 'Strawberry Capital of the World is almost extinct on the Eastern Shore of MD (Coulbourne, 2014).The strawberry industry is chiefly dominated by June-bearer, short day cultivars (Rowley et al., 2011), which restrict the peak production to spring or early summer seasons in the mid-Atlantic (Ballington et al., 2008). In spite of growing demand for local produce and higher economic potential of the strawberries no work has been done on the production potential of the DNS on the Delmarva Peninsula. There is no comprehensive study what is the business as of late & site dating evaluating the potential of multiple day DNS in open bed and low tunnel regimes to accelerate the local production and extend the season beyond early spring and summer. However, some work showed the screening of only 7 or 8 cultivars either on open bed, or using tunnel regimes in MD (Lantz et al., 2010; UME, 2015; Lewers et al., 2017). These areas (Queen Anne's County, Prince George's County, and Garrett County) of strawberry experimentation and variety trials are distant (80 to 300 miles) from the Tri-county area that probably hindered the extension outreach to small growers of our area. Strawberry research and extension has enormous potential and opportunity in the Tri-county area to promote local strawberry production with the leadership of UMES.According to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), in 2013, 263 cultivated acres of strawberries was grown by 83 farms. In Virginia Beach alone the value of strawberries to the local economy is estimated to be $1,000,000 (Flanagan et al., 2013). The acreage in Virginia is predominantly you pick, where the consumer comes directly to the farm and harvests the berries themselves. Growers in Virginia currently grow three main cultivars; Chandler, Camarosa, and Sweet Charlie, these three varieties were bred for the commercial pre pick and shipping markets, but have adapted well to you pick/ direct to consumer markets that we use them in today. Currently, no grower in Virginia is using DNS cultivars. The majority of the strawberry acreage grown in Virginia is done so using the annual plasticulture production system, where the plants are planted in the fall for harvest in the spring. There is an urgent need to extend the growing season of strawberries to enhance farm income, promote local produce, reduce carbon foot print, and concomitantly rejuvenate the lost strawberry legacy on the Eastern Shore to boost agro-tourism and encourage agricultural economy. These outcomes will be achieved by the evaluation of production potential of the DNS cultivation on the Delmarva Peninsula. Strawberry crop is susceptible to multiple fungal and insect pest diseases (Lantz et al., 2010). Nanotechnology based eco-friendly strategies will be used to combat multiple diseases in DNS cultivars. Our recent work on the use of nano-zinc-oxide (NZO; 30-45 nm) and nano-sulfur (NS; 30 nm) on Soybean looper and Beet army worm in vitro showed 100% mortality of first, second, and third instar larvae within 24 hr of application. Nanoparticles (NP) have a high surface to volume ratio, which imparts high reactivity and biochemical activity against insects and pests (Fraceto et al., 2016). NZO concentrations greater than 3 mM effectively inhibited the growth of postharvest fungus B. cinerea and P. expansum in vitro (He et al., 2011). Electron microscopic studies reveled that NZO induced deformation in fungal hyphae of B. cinerea and inhibition of conidiophore formation in P. expansum, which finally led to death of fungal hyphae. These novel and innovative approaches will be used for the management of strawberry diseases prevalent in the Tri-county area and Virginia.

    There are three specific objectives being addressed in this project.Objective 1 Evaluation of growth and development of the DNS cultivars in both field and low tunnel regimes.Objective 2 Effect of nano-sulfur (NS) and nano-zinc-oxide (NZO) on fungal diseases.Objective3 Demonstration of successful extension of strawberry season using the DNS cultivars in the field and low tunnel conditions.

    Shewanella Species as Potential Emergining Pathogens in Oysters and Seawater from Apalachiocola, Cheaspeake and Maryland Coastal Bays

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Shewanella species are important flesh-eating bacteria which have been transmitted through contaminated seawater and seafood. Shewanella may emerge as significant pathogens toward immunocompromised individuals who consume raw or lightly cooked oysters or through exposure of cuts in the skin in contaminated marine environments. Recently, cases of Shewanella infections were reported around the Chesapeake Bay (CB). Adequate information is not available on the levels of pathogenic Shewanella species in oysters and seawater from the Apalachicola Bay (AB), CB and the Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs). The overall goal of this project is to address this data gap through the following objectives: 1) to investigate the prevalence of potentially pathogenic Shewanella species in AB, CB and MCBs; 2) to study the effect of environmental factors such as temperature, salinity, pH, and chlorophyll a on the prevalence of Shewanella in oysters and seawater; 3) to characterize Shewanella recovered from oyster and seawater using phenotypic (antimicrobial susceptibility testing) and genotypic (Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis) methods; 4) to share the research findings with the public, seafood industry and regulatory agencies; and 5) to increase capacity and enhance student educational and leadership opportunities. The proposed research will provide, for the first time, a simple, rapid and reliable tool for monitoring Shewanella concentrations in shellfish that can be employed by commercial growers, state resource managers, and educational institutions. The unique combination of multi-institutional research and outreach activities will enhance the research capacity of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and Florida A & M University (FAMU) in environmental, food and agricultural sciences.

    OBJECTIVES: The overall goal of this project is to investigate the prevalence of potentially pathogenic Shewanella spp. in oysters and seawater samples collected from the Apalachicola Bay (AB), Florida, the Chesapeake Bay (CB) and the Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs), Maryland to enhance seafood safety and water quality research, outreach, and extension at two HBCUs. The specific objectives are:1) To investigate the prevalence of potentially pathogenic Shewanella species in AB, CB and MCBs; 2) To study the effect of environmental factors such as temperature, salinity, pH, and chlorophyll a on the prevalence of Shewanella in oysters and seawater; 3) To characterize Shewanella recovered from oyster and seawater using phenotypic (antimicrobial susceptibility testing) and genotypic (Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis) methods; 4) To share the research findings with the public, seafood industry and regulatory agencies; and 5) To increase capacity and enhance student educational and leadership opportunities.

    Using UAV's to Improve Nitrogen Applications in Winter Wheat

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: UMES project teaminvolved with precision agriculture and remote sensing efforts will integrate their ongoing efforts with the proposed scope of the collaborative project with Viriginia Tech and University of Delaware. Project team will conduct UAV flights with color, color-infrared, and thermal cameras over selected portions of agricultural fields on campus to explore use of remote sensing data to study nutrient levels and irrigation levels on crop yields. Ground based measurements from hand held devices will be used to validate the remote sensing data.From theUAV images, whole field maps can be generated to show NDVI and other vegetation indices across the entire field. Thelong-term goal is to generate variable rate N prescription maps from UAV platforms, and then develop a method to plug in the prescription map data directly into sprayer software system. This would allow a grower in the Delmarva region to apply N in a variable rate withmore precision than before in fields based on the crop's need, thereby optimizing nutrient inputs while mitigating potentially harmful water quality effects.

    OBJECTIVES: Collaborative field studies utlizing UAV imagery for generating variable rate nutrientprescription maps among Virginia Tech, University of Delaware and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). While some of the efforts at UMES will involve corn the primary emphasis on the three way collaborative will be on winter wheatEstablish in-season variable rate nitrogenprescriptions for winter wheat based on crop greenness and spatial variability from data collected with the UAV.Generate prescription N maps that will enable wheat growers to apply variable N rates based on need rather than applying one blanket N rate.

    Developing Environmentally Sustainable Alternative Management Practices for Kudzu Bug in Maryland

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Nationally, Maryland ranks 21st in soybean production with an annual value of over $227 million. The invasive kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) has emerged as the top yield-limiting pest of soybean in the U.S. Recent study revealed that the invasion of the Asian kudzu bug to eight Maryland counties. Maryland is the northern limit of the bug invasion. Kudzu bugs may have the potential to expand throughout Maryland and become a pest on soybeans. However, no effective control strategies other than chemical insecticides are currently available to manage this pest. Preparing economically-viable, socially-acceptable and environmentally-friendly kudzu bug management strategies ahead of time is a noble idea to control the invasion of kudzu bugs. The goal of this proposal is to protect the soybean production from this rapidly invading pest by developing environmentally sustainable, alternative management tactics. Specifically, we propose to develop and evaluate trap cropping tactics with highly attractive host plant, and identify host plant based attractants to detect/monitor and manage kudzu bug in Maryland, Moreover, in this study we will isolate and identify the entomopathogenic fungi that has a potential for control of kudzu bug. The project will involve laboratory, greenhouse and field studies. Furthermore, field trial will be designed in Maryland counties where significant outbreak of Kudzu bug observed. It is expected that this project will ultimately ensure continued expansion and profitability of the soybean production in the Maryland by developing environmentally sustainable tactics for managing kudzu bugs. The project has the following specific objectives, 1) Compare preferred hosts for M. cribraria with potential for the development of trap crops, 2) Detect head space plant volatile attractants for M. cribraria, 3) Isolate and develop the entomopathogenic fungi for the control of M. cribraria and 4) Test the pest control tactics developed in Obj. 1, 2, 3 & 4 in field and semi-field conditions.

    OBJECTIVES: The goal of this proposal is to protect the soybean production from this rapidly invading pest by developing environmentally sustainable, alternative management tactics. Specifically, we propose to develop and evaluate trap cropping tactics with highly attractive host plant, and identify host plant based attractants to detect/monitor and manage kudzu bug in Maryland, Moreover, in this study we will isolate and identify the entomopathogenic fungi that has a potential for control of kudzu bug. The project will involve laboratory, greenhouse and field studies. Furthermore, field trial will be designed in Maryland counties where significant outbreak of Kudzu bug observed. It is expected that this project will ultimately ensure continued expansion and profitability of the soybean production in the Maryland by developing environmentally sustainable tactics for managing kudzu bugs. The project has the following specific objectives:1)Compare preferred hosts for M. cribraria with potential for the development of trap crops, 2) Detect head space plant volatile attractants for M. cribraria, 3) Isolate and develop the entomopathogenic fungi for the control of M. cribraria and 4) Test the pest control tactics developed in Obj. 1, 2, 3 & 4 in field and semi-field conditions.

    Improving Soil Health and Food Safety in Organic Specialty Crop Systems by Customized Management of Soil

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Organic specialty crop management practices in the Delmarva region face critical challenges such as soil health and food safety concerns from animal manure use. While green manures and composts can help maintain/improve soil health, supplemental nutrients may be needed to satisfy soil/crop requirements. Locally available stored stockpiles of animal manure are economical choices. However, they may contain less nitrogen than non-aged materials and harbor fecal indicator bacteria and pathogens, as well as insect larvae that vector the pathogens. In an organic farm system, it is essential that soil quality be sustained to give the plant its nutrients while improving quality and producing safe food. Therefore, the major goal of this project is to evaluate the effects of customized poultry litter products and their soil application on soil microbial communities, including bacterial fecal pathogens and their survival, persistence, and transfer to fresh produce, and on soil health of high phosphorus soils in the Delmarva region. This joint project uses an integrative and creative approach by conducting a mini-plot field evaluation that simulates a novel technology, the Subsurface, which places dry manure below the soil surface of organic specialty crop. It also and includes acid-washed poultry litter, which has significant amounts of phosphorus removed. This aspect addresses the challenging issues to decrease phosphorus in runoff, comply with policy guidelines for nutrient applications and build soil health. As such, this project aligns well with the priority areas of the capacity building grant program and participating institutions' foci, namely sustainable agriculture, food safety, soil health, soil nutrient availability. The participating institutions, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Tuskegee University (TU), Delaware State University (DSU) and USDA-ARS, use a multidisciplinary problem solving approach that engages, soil fertility, soil biochemistry, food safety, microbiology, horticulture, environmental science and extension expertise to address a nutrient problem faced by farmers on Delmarva. This approach will promote involvement and educational knowledge among stakeholder farmers and others who wish to grow specialty crops using various organic amendments without the risk of crop contamination. The project supports human capital development of undergraduate and graduate students who will receive research and academic training while earning their degrees. It also exposes high school students to agriculture through summer soil health exploration camps that will enrich their agriculture knowledge and encourage and/or reinforce their interests in the agriculture sector, including careers.

    OBJECTIVES: The major goal of this project is to evaluate the effects of customized poultry litter products and their soil application on soil microbial communities, including bacterial fecal pathogens and their survival, persistence, and transfer to fresh produce, and on soil health of high phosphorus soils in the Delmarva region.The objectives are to: (1) determine appropriate manure application placement and rates for organic farms growing selected leafy and fruiting crops, (2) compare temporal changes in pathogen levels and associated bacterial communities in different manure sources used as soil amendments during organic fresh produce production, (3) provide summer camp on soil health and healthy food for high school scholars, and (4) provide outreach workshops and demonstrations to stakeholders on practices to manage soils and reduce the risk of foodborne pathogen contamination.

    Building Capacity to Investigate Water and Nutrient Use Efficiency Using Variable Rate Technology and UAV Based Remote Sensing in Field Settings

    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Precision application of nutrients to row crops grown in the Eastern Shore region is critical to reduce run-offs and associated environmental problems. Besides nutrient use efficiency (NUE), water use efficiency (WUE) is likely to play a significant role as more agricultural fields are brought under irrigation to enhance productivity. Irrigation water is not in abundant supply, there is now a growing awareness that considerations related to climate and availability of water from rivers, streams, and aquifers will require judicious use of this commodity.Center Pivots and Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) are two approaches that are currently employed for variable rate irrigation. The proposed project will build capacity for SDI for a modest sized production agricultural field at University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).Color infrared digital cameras have been flown on both unmanned and manned airplanes to collect remote sensing data related to crop nutrient status at UMES. The proposed project will in addition investigate the use of the thermal imagery from small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to determine crop water stress index (CWSI) to estimate variable irrigation needs. Well-designed field experiments will be conducted in vertically integrated multidisciplinary team-settings. With a growing engineering program and an active aviation and agriculture program, UMES is poised to play a significant role in setting the standards and procedures for widespread adoption of the UAV technology in agriculture. The proposed project will expand the use of UAVs that are being utilized to support nutrient management endeavors to include water use management efforts.

    OBJECTIVES: The principal goal of the proposed project is to build capacity at University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) to conduct applied research in the area of water use efficiency and investigate the use of UAVs with multispectral and thermal cameras to support the field studies. These efforts will be integrated with ongoing field studies that are being conducted for nitrogen and nutrient use efficiency of corn using regular and drought tolerant seeds (provided by Pioneer Hi-bred).The specific objectives of the proposal are delineated as follows:Install and conduct field trials with subsurface drip irrigation on a modest sized ( ~10 acres)production field in UMES with multiple zone controls to build capacity for field scale experiments with water use efficiency in concert with studies on small scale experimental plots.To enhance capability and analyses for color, color-infrared, and thermal imagery from Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to monitor and detect crop water and nutrient stresses.To utilize instrumented All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) to enhance efficiency of grid soil sampling.To involve and support a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students from engineering, agriculture, aviation and other STEM disciplines to work in a team setting with farm personnel, collaborators from USDA, NASA, and Pioneer Hi-Bred, and project investigators.

    Melding Undergraduate Research