UTRGV awarded $1.4 million for Climate Smart project

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EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was awarded $1.4 million for a new Climate-Smart farming program.

The Texas Climate-Smart Initiative was awarded to UTRGV as part of a $2.8 billion federal investment and is funded under the first pool of the USDA Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities.

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The initiative will allow researchers to collaborate with local farmers and implement climate-smart agricultural practices and aims to create a model for future climate-smart commodity programs across the country, supporting UTRGV's role as a leader in sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship.

"This project will enhance the research quality of our university and lead to more effective and efficient investigations with more reliable results," said Engil Pereira, TCIS Principal Investigator.

UTRGV's involvement in the USDA-funded Climate-Smart Initiative will promote sustainable agriculture practices in the Rio Grande Valley.

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“Those practices are not only friendly to the environment but also friendly to the production and the sustainability of the farming enterprise," said Pereira.

These climate-smart practices are meant to minimize the ongoing drought in the Valley.

"When the farmers reduce tillage on their soil, they are actually adding more organic matter to the soil and helping reduce soil moisture," said Pereira. "Which is very helpful in these current conditions of drought we have in the Rio Grande Valley.”

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The project also will implement strategies to engage Historically Underserved vegetable farmers through a comprehensive outreach program that will help identify HU farmers and invite their participation. It will offer financial incentives to HU farmers who implement climate-smart practices.

Pereira and the award-winning research team will be the first researchers to evaluate large-scale soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions on farms in the Valley.

UTRGV plans to test the soils of farms that apply for the program.

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