Monday, October 23, 2023

Emory breaking new ground for climate-smart agriculture in the Southeast

"Our project is unique in that it focuses on the Southern Piedmont and an often under served piece of our food system, but one that is vital to providing us the nutrients we need — the vegetable sector," says Emily Burchfield, assistant professor of environmental sciences.

Three Emory University researchers received $5,100,000 as part of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) project to help measure and promote climate-smart practices that support small-scale, diversified vegetable farmers in the Southern Piedmont. A plateau below the Appalachian Mountains and above the coastal plain, the Southern Piedmont is a banana-shaped region spanning a bit of eastern Alabama, up across part of northern Georgia and into North and South Carolina and Virginia. 

Emory is one of 12 organizations involved in the $25 million project, headed by the Rodale Institute and titled “Quantifying the Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Carbon Sequestration by Growing and Marketing Climate-Smart Commodities in the Southern Piedmont.” 

The five-year project is part of the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. “This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says of the initiative. 

The Emory team encompasses three faculty from the Department of Environmental Sciences: Emily Burchfield, Eri Saikawa and Debjani Sihi. 

• Burchfield combines spatial-temporal social and environmental data to understand the future of food security in the United States. 

• Saikawa is an atmospheric chemist who models global soil nitrous oxide emissions and quantifies soil greenhouse gas fluxes. 

• Sihi is an environmental biogeochemist who researches soil organic matter dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions from natural and managed systems. 

Read more here.


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