2022 Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Projects

The James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Program is an extension of SSARE’s Research & Education Grants program, which allows researchers conducting SSARE-funded projects to partner with high school and undergraduate students on sustainable agriculture research.

The first James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement Grants were awarded in 2013 with the goal to engage youth in the research process and encourage the pursuit of college degrees emphasizing sustainable agriculture. In 2022, five young scholars were selected for the program. A digital copy of their research posters can be found below.

LS19-317: Innovative Nutrient Management Options for Sustainable Pasture Land Intensification: Cow-calf and stocker cattle operations often face a shortage of grazable forage on pastures during summer, early fall and winter. To provide access to high quality, grazable, and sustainable forage, we plan to study the feasibility of an integrated system using sub-surface poultry litter application on pasture in tandem with planting a mix of summer annuals and legumes to increase both the efficiency and level of nutrient application. This will enhance both forage quality and quantity for grazing.

LS20-335: Cover Crops and Cropping System Sustainability in a Changing Global Climate: It is imperative to identify soil and crop management practices that are less sensitive or more adaptive to climate change. The goal of this project is to evaluate the influence of cover crops on in situ soil thermal properties and how these may influence crop productivity and agricultural resilience in a changing climate.

This project produced two Young Scholar Enhancement research projects.

LS20-341: Assessing Water Use Efficiency, Soil Health, and Pollinators within a Transition from Irrigation to Dryland Management in the Texas High Plains: The rapid decline in water supply for irrigation in the Texas High Plains is encouraging some growers to convert their irrigated cropland to production of dryland crops and low water requiring forages. Research on the impacts of transitioning toward reduced water input can reveal soil and crop management practices that build up the soil’s health. Switching to more diverse cropping systems can enhance numbers and activities of introduced and native bees, which are potential pollinators. The project studies the changes in soil health indicators, ground-nesting bees (as an indicator of pollinator habitat), and water use by annual crops and perennial forages in the context of transition from high irrigation to low irrigation to dryland management.

LS20-342: Enhancing Hedgerow Systems in Fruit Tree Production to Improve Beneficial Insect Diversity and Abundance: Hedgerows have been used in different fruit tree production systems to protect groves against adverse climatic conditions such has strong winds and freezing events. However, attention has shifted to the potential of hedgerows in providing shelter and additional food resources to beneficial insects, in particular natural enemies and pollinators. The project aims to improve the existing hedgerow system already present in Georgia and Florida along citrus and peaches orchards to enhance beneficial insect populations.

LS21-354: The Use of Cyanobacteria Biofertilizers to Increase Crop Productivity, Improve Soil Health, and Agricultural Sustainability in Florida: Biofertilizers are defined as organic substances containing various microorganisms that improve soil and crop productivity. Cyanobacteria have become an important addition to biofertilizers due to their enhancement of crop production and soil health. However, abundance of cyanobacteria in water can develop hypoxic conditions and cause harmful effects to aquatic organisms. The project involves removing cyanobacteria from water sources and using the material as a biofertilizer for sustainable tomato and okra production.