WRV Logo   Partnership and Collaboration

    ARS engages collaborators and partners in research that has long-term focus, is both place-based and
    at a national scale, and solves complex agroecosystem water issues using a transdisciplinary approach.

In the face of growing challenges such as climate change, human population growth and environmental impacts, agricultural production systems will need to evolve over the next 30 years to address emerging issues. In turn, ARS will innovate and build strong partnerships to achieve the complex research objectives required to address the up and coming issues constraining sustainable intensified agricultural production systems. Partnerships with shared values strengthen ARS capacity by adding expertise, supplying additional data, and allowing ARS to inform water policies and decisions. Successful partnerships support all partners, conserve resources, and lead to more effective communication, maintaining ARS’ leadership, and enhancing adoption and transformation of new technologies.



A Public Private Partnership for Water Use


Annual production from wine grape vineyards in California (300,000 ha) is valued at $6.5B and supports an industry generating nearly $120B in economic activity nationally, with $57B in California alone. At the same time, water resources in the state are rapidly decreasing due to increased demand from a growing population, expanding agricultural production, and more frequent and severe droughts. E. & J. Gallo Wineries recognized the critical need to improve irrigation water management in commercial vineyards and reached out to ARS scientists to develop satellite-based techniques for mapping daily crop water use (evapotranspiration or ET) and stress.


This partnership led to the Grape Remote sensing Atmospheric Profile and Evapotranspiration eXperiment (GRAPEX) project, supported by ARS, E. & J. Gallo, and the NASA Applied Sciences Program. Through GRAPEX, ARS scientists collaborate with industry and university researchers to create geospatial tools and ET information to assist in irrigation scheduling. Satellite maps of daily water use will be widely accessible to growers through the OpenET platform, a unique public-private partnership developed by NASA with philanthropic support.





Technology Impacts on Collaboration. Today, mobile devices, email, videoconferencing, cloud data storage, and web-based decision support systems are just a few of the ways technology is changing the way to collaborate. It is difficult to predict how technology will affect collaboration over the next 30 years. To advance a vision for 2050 and beyond, ARS will work with technology futurists who are best positioned to project how advances in this area will drive the nature of future collaboration.

Partnerships and Collaborations. ARS has engaged in partnerships with diverse institutions, including government agencies, producers, industry researchers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, and citizen groups. Partnering across units or entities outside of ARS has enabled units to expand in expertise, impact, and geographic scope. ARS will continue to seek new, creative partnerships and collaborations to address future challenges, including work with international partners on joint solutions to common problems.

University Partnerships. ARS has a long history of collaborating with university partners. This is an integral part of effective research. Co-location of units within or very near university campuses provides access to researchers, facilities, and students and provides benefits for both ARS and the collaborating university. ARS benefits from expertise that extends beyond the limits of the agency to include the expertise of university collaborators. Students, staff, and faculty benefit from exposure to more opportunities to get involved with a broader research portfolio. ARS and universities benefit from a pooling of resources, both infrastructural and intellectual, toward accomplishing common research objectives. Co-locating new units or re-locating units to university settings may prove beneficial. Remote collaboration tools may also provide new opportunities to reduce barriers for collaboration with non-co-located universities.

Building Collaboration to Strengthen Partnership Outcomes. Stakeholders in the agricultural community will benefit from the outcomes of ARS partnerships. This approach will ultimately lead to end-to-end pilot programs that disseminate innovative technologies. ARS will continue to:

  • Encourage agreements with private industry to transfer ARS-developed technologies into the marketplace and simplify intellectual property arrangements.

  • Encourage new scientists to collaborate with industry, university, State, and Federal scientists and with farmers.

  • Build partnerships with researchers outside of ARS, especially those with expertise in the social sciences and science communication.

  • Identify key groups needed to implement new technologies.

  • Encourage involvement with innovation support schemes.

  • Develop consortia of Federal/State government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private industry partners that can champion needed outcomes.

  • Strongly leverage and support government networks.

  • Increase engagement/outreach activities with underrepresented communities.

  • Make targeted investments in research resources and partnerships that emphasize synergies of collaboration and communication strategies leading to effective solutions.

  • Engage with NRCS to gain understanding of relevant issues farmers, growers, ranchers, and producers face and to identify potential collaborators.