Governor Terry McAuliffe announced this week that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Langley Research Center Applied Sciences’ DEVELOP Program has completed two projects in Virginia designed to support the Commonwealth’s wine industry and improve the efficiency of water consumption for agricultural purposes.
“I am pleased to see the successes of the NASA DEVELOP team in the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to engage our students, early career professionals, and veterans in using technology and science to address topics of economic importance to the Commonwealth. It’s a great way to maximize our resources and ensure Virginia is at the forefront of 21st Century science and innovation. The opportunity to couple this innovation with our diverse agriculture industry, one of the Commonwealth’s greatest economic assets, is exactly what we need to help build the new Virginia economy.”
The DEVELOP program is co-located within the Virginia Secretary of Technology’s office in Richmond. The NASA DEVELOP team joined Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore this week for a roundtable discussion outlining DEVELOP’s current research projects and opportunities to further Virginia’s efforts in leveraging federal resources to benefit important economic concerns affecting the Commonwealth.
As part of the NASA Applied Sciences Program, DEVELOP supports activities that discover and demonstrate innovative uses and practical benefits of NASA Earth science data, scientific knowledge, and technology. The DEVELOP National Program fosters an interdisciplinary research environment in which applied science research projects are conducted under the guidance of NASA and partner science advisors. DEVELOP participants also work directly with Commonwealth professionals on research projects that focus on using NASA Earth observations to address community concerns and public policy issues.
The first research project, “Virginia Agriculture II,” is a partnership between the Virginia Wine Board and DEVELOP that maps the acreage of Virginia vineyards using NASA Earth observations. The results of this project were presented to the Virginia Wine Board in order to explore the future of viticulture – the science, production, and study of grapes. DEVELOP teams in Richmond and Wise County collaborated on the project.
The second research project, “Coastal Mid-Atlantic Water Resources III,” partners the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Digital Harvest, a Virginia-based company using unmanned aerial vehicle technology in the agriculture sector, to use NASA Earth observations to gain a better understanding of how often farmers need to irrigate their fields, with a goal to decrease water waste and lower economic costs. This project offers the Commonwealth a greater understanding of water consumption behavior in a region, as well as a useful proxy for drought monitoring throughout Virginia. DEVELOP teams in Richmond and Hampton collaborated on this research. Project results will also be shared with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to explore potential use by the agency.
“With Governor McAuliffe’s leadership, the Commonwealth is able to use some of our greatest assets, in both agriculture and the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, to help solve important public policy issues, including some key ones related to future economic development throughout Virginia,” said Secretary Jackson. “Water usage analysis by our agriculture producers, along with better examinations of current and future vineyard production opportunities, are just two examples of how we can work with our federal colleagues at NASA DEVELOP to better leverage federal resources that benefit the Commonwealth and support our efforts to build the new Virginia economy.”
“One of the greatest challenges facing Virginia’s world-class wine industry is the need to plant more grape vines so that fruit production can stay ahead of wine sales, which have reached record high levels over each of the last six years,” added Secretary Haymore. “Through our partnership with NASA DEVELOP, Virginia winery and vineyard owners now have another tool to help them better analyze where current fruit production is occurring. Perhaps more importantly, this work can lead toward analysis regarding where future planting and what types of grape varietals should occur. This type of federal, state, and private sector cooperation is very helpful to the Governor’s efforts to build a new Virginia economy.”
“This partnership with the Governor’s office provides a unique return on the investment in NASA,” said David E. Bowles, Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “This is a great example of using data we gather from space to benefit people here on our own planet, thanks to visionary leaders such as Governor McAuliffe.”
NASA DEVELOP is helping to promote workforce development throughout the Commonwealth by engaging Virginia in innovative applied research projects that address environmental concerns in areas such as agriculture, ecological forecasting, water resources and air quality. DEVELOP offers research opportunities for participants during three 10-week terms per year. In Virginia, DEVELOP has been active in Wise County and Hampton, in addition to the new partnership with the Governor’s office in Richmond. For more information on the NASA DEVELOP program, please visit http://develop.larc.nasa.gov/.
Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry. It generates more than $50 billion in revenue each year and creates more than 300,000 jobs throughout the Commonwealth, according to a 2013 University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service economic impact study. The Virginia wine industry, which generates approximately $750 million per annum and more than 4,700 jobs, according to a 2012 A Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP economic impact study, is one of the fastest growing sectors of Virginia agriculture.