U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ann M. Veneman and NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe launched a partnership that will use Earth Science technologies to enhance the competitiveness of American farmers and ranchers and help protect the environment. O’Keefe and Veneman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that enables USDA to draw on the best scientific and technical information available from NASA research in Earth observation and systems engineering. The primary purpose of this new cooperative effort is to help increase the production efficiency of farmers while continuing to reduce the cost of production. Earth observation technologies provide insights into climate and precipitation patterns, crop health, airborne particles, and water availability.
This joint endeavor also spawns information that contributes to interagency cooperation on climate change through the Climate Change Research Program to develop a scientific understanding of the Earth’s response to natural or human-induced changes. Veneman said that such technology would also be highlighted at the upcoming Ministerial and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, Calif., on June 23-25. Ministers from over 180 countries will discuss and share science and technological innovation in agriculture at the conference. An immediate outcome of the new partnership is a $1 million, three-year program to establish Geospatial Extension Programs at land grant universities. Geospatial Extension specialists work closely with NASA and USDA to address Earth Science applications and the remote sensing needs of the agricultural community.
The MOU focuses on five areas:
Carbon Sequestration for Carbon Management
Environmental Models for Biological Invasive Species
Water Cycle Science for Water Management
Conservation Weather and Climate Prediction Research for Agricultural Competitiveness
Regional, National, and International Atmospheric Predictions for Air Quality Management.