Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.36
Liaison Marianella Franklin
Submission Date Jan. 10, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.97 / 2.00 Carlos Chavez
Assoc Director of Facilities Support Services
Campus Facilities Operations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area:
672.39 Acres

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds:
Area (double-counting is not allowed)
Area managed organically, without the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides 7.28 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses selected chemicals only when needed 230 Acres
Area managed using conventional, chemical-based landscape management practices 15.28 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 252.56 Acres

A brief description of any land excluded from the area of managed grounds:

56.43 Acres - footprint of the institution's buildings
19.29 Acres - undeveloped land

Percentage of grounds managed organically:

A brief description of the organic landscape management program:

The UTRGV Agroecology Research and Teaching Garden has been annually certified since 2015 by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent (Nature’s International Certification Service), following all USDA organic regulations and compliant with the standards set by the National Organic Standards Board. Each year we provide all of the documentation to maintain our eligibility for this certification, and are inspected by a third party to verify our compliance, to certify that:

·we maintain our facility without excluded methods (e.g.,genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge).

·Crops maintained using allowed substances.

Abraham Hernandez. Exec Dir Campus Facilities Ops. "This letter is to certify that the property in which the UTGRV agro-ecology garden sits has been free of fertilizers, pesticides, or any other chemical use for more than three years. Since the baseball stadium and associated activities have been relocated to the Edinburg Baseball Park, no agriculture or landscaping activities have occurred on this property. Furthermore, with the understanding that the garden would be used as a certified organic gardening facility, our Facilities Management took extra care in assuring that no chemical contaminants would be used within gardening areas that had the potential for affecting research gardening projects."

Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an IPM program:

A copy of the IPM plan or program:
A brief description of the IPM program:

UTRGV Grounds Supervisors holds a current Ornamental Pest Control License that is issued under the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Under TDA requirements, the University is required to implement an “integrated pest control management program” which entails close supervision of plants and turf materials.

We promote only the new planting or replacement of trees and vegetation that is native to our area to ensure a lasting and healthy trees and vegetation ecosystem. Weed control is mainly controlled manually and as need it with only herbicides label “Caution only”. Some wildlife is present in our campuses, and they are generally left alone, this includes different species of birds, local and migratory, bees, butterflies, cats, different species of snakes, pigeons, diverse rodents, bats, spiders, parrots, falcons, and seagulls. Opossums are generally the only wildlife animals that get trapped and released.

A brief description of the institution's approach to plant stewardship:

All tree care activities shall require at minimum, an ISA Certified Tree Worker to be advice and review all new construction planning. UTRGV tree-related construction standards and specifications can be found on the PMCS website at: http://www.utexas.edu/pmcs/dcstandards/.

Additional construction details for trees are forthcoming.

UTRGV protects and uses existing vegetation, uses native and ecologically appropriate plants, and controls and manages invasive species. Lists of both are outlined in the Tree Care Report. The following species are required to be replaced:

All Native Texas Oaks, Acacaho orchid, Anacahiuta, Anacua, Bald Cypress Black Willow, Brasil, Cedar Elm, Chapote, Colima, Coma Del Sur, Coral Bean, Desert Yaupon,

Honey Mesquite, Magnolia ‘Bronze Sentinel,’ Mescal Bean, Mexican Sycamore, Montezuma Cypress, Pecan, Retama, Spiny Hackberry, Tepeguaje,Texas Ebony, Texas Paloverde, Texas Persimmon, Western Soapberry, White Brush, Wright Catclaw and Yaupon Holly.

The following species are not required to be replaced on any site:

Chinese Parasol, Chinese Tallow, Chinaberry, Golden Rain Tree, Hackberry, Ashe Juniper, Ligustrum species, Vitex, Mimosa, Nandina, Paper Mulberry, Photinia,

Pyracantha Russian Olive, Salt Cedar, Siberian Elm, Tree of Heaven and White Mulberry.

A brief description of the institution's approach to hydrology and water use:

UTRGV is installing smart irrigation controllers in all campuses.

UTRGV uses the IQ system irrigation, which gives us an overview of the water trends and uses for each campus at UTRGV, on a daily and evening basis. In instances of over or under watering, the system will identify needs and intervention strategies are discussed, using remote control technology. Additionally, UTRGV has renovated and included in construction design water savers on the urinals in many buildings.

A brief description of the institution's approach to landscape materials management and waste minimization:

The objective entails a modification of campus community culture—to one that focuses on the preservation of natural resources while minimizing our emission of carbon. The vision is to transition all landscape and grounds maintenance activities to a more ecologically sound operation by extending awareness and educational programs in support of this.
For most of our areas, weed control is managed by maintaining a healthy turf. This is accomplished by controlling watering schedules, turf height and re-seeding eroded areas. UTRGV utilizes a hydromulcher for seeding and fertilizing and a wood chipper to produce mulch from recycled brush and other organic materials resulting in a more beautiful and sustainable future for campus grounds.

A brief description of the institution's approach to energy-efficient landscape design:

The University enjoys reduced energy costs due to the shade provided by the tree canopy, and local businesses experience increased property value and business traffic due to their beauty. Trees also serve as strategic barriers to reduce noise, glare, and odors. The
trees that make up the campus forest are a good mixture of small, medium and large trees optimized for the available space. UTRGV maintains adequate tree canopy cover by planting trees, assisting with developing tree ordinances and tree-related policies.

A brief description of other sustainable landscape management practices employed by the institution:

UTRGV Garden & Greenhouse http://www.utrgv.edu/agroecology/facilities/utrgv-garden-and-greenhouse/index.htm

UTRGV is proud to be the first-ever Texas university to have a USDA certified organic garden and greenhouse!

The garden facility finished construction for its first phase early in 2014 and is located at the North East wing near the UTRGV Child Development Center. There has been 7,500 ft2 of land fully equipped with irrigation, access to the tool shed, and a shade-house dedicated for research under the Agroecology program. Adjacent to this is the UTRGV's state-of-the-art greenhouse equipped with a water wall, sprinklers, and fans ensuring optimum temperature

Research and teaching portions have already begun with the Agroecology Lab and Dr. Racelis' Agroecology class in the fall of 2014. This fall the garden was lush with okra, eggplant, peppers, basil, tomatoes, cucumber, beets, radishes, lettuce, kale, marigolds, zinnia, and cover crops growing, spring planting in underway!

The garden includes the 7,500 ft2 of land fully equipped with irrigation, access to the tool shed, and a shade house, all adjacent to UTRGV's state-of-the-art greenhouse equipped with a water wall, sprinklers, and fans ensuring optimum temperature.

Community Garden

There has been 2,500 ft2 set aside for a community garden, which is decorated with 15 raised beds. 9 student organizations including The Environmental Awareness Club, The Garden Club, SGA, and many more have signed up to grow, maintain, and harvest their yields.

UTRGV Research

Savannah Rugg planted Buckwehat (Fagopyrum esculentum), Lablab (Lablab purpureus), Sudan Grass (Sorghum drumondii), Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea), Tillage Radish (Raphanus sativus) and Winter Rye (Secale cerale) as cover crops with the purpose of recycling nutrients back into the soil. Cover crops have many benefits including the prevention of soil erosion, suppressing weeds, help in controling pests & disease and so much more.

Lindsey Richardson is working diligently on a variety of tomato heirlooms and the most effective tool for avoiding the whitefly pest and contracting tomato yellow leaf curl virus.

Maddie Marshall is conducting a companion planting experiment with the intention to reduce pest impact on brassica crops. Kale, the cash crop, will be planted with "push" species onion and cilantro to repel pests and alyssum, fennel, and dill are acting as "pull" species to attract pests to a new location. The main goal of this research is to determine what chemical volatiles are responsible for the movement of pests.

Amrita Singh has pepper, tomato, and corn growing in the greenhouse to be transplanted in the garden to undergo mycorrhizal research. She will be observing the effect on increasing productivity in organic farming and suppression of nematodes.

Off Campus Research

Some experiments, such as the cover crops and tomato research, are also conducted on local farms such as Terra Preta in Edinburg, Plantation Produce Farms at Hilltop Garden in Lyford, and Yahweh's All Natural Farm & Garden in Harlingen. We thank these farmers for their active research engagement!

Subtropical Organic Agriculture Research (SOAR)

Funded by USDA -NIFA-Organic Research Transitions program http://www.utrgv.edu/agroecology/research/soar/index.htm

Subtropical Organic Agriculture Research (SOAR) Partnership: A participatory academic program to fill research needs of farmers in S. Texas (Funded by USDA-NIFA-Organic Research Transitions program). Organic farmers in South Texas, and those interested in transitioning to organic production, face many challenges, including extremely intense pest pressure and uncertainty with changing climate and water availability. Especially since the 2011 closing of the USDA-ARS Subtropical Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas, there has been very little research support available to these growers, in one of the most important agricultural regions in Texas. Strategically situated in subtropical south Texas, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley will build upon its status as a USDA-designated Hispanic Serving Agricultural College and University (HSACU) by launching an innovative new academic program that engages students in rigorous, well-designed research projects designed to address real-world problems faced by organic farmers in South Texas. Using a participatory research approach, the project team will identify pressing research needs by interviewing farmers, agency staff, and organic inspectors. Students will

help design and carry out supervised research studies to answer these questions. This practical field research experience will be at the center of an innovative experiential learning emphasis that will prepare students to become effective scientific researchers and will raise their awareness of the ecological benefits of organic farming. The project will also provide an research-based educational program to inform growers, extension agents, and others about organic requirements, certification, marketing, processing facilities, enterprise budgets, and production methods. The ultimate goal of the project is to make South Texas organic producers more competitive by meeting some of their most urgent research needs and by publicizing research findings widely. In the spring of 2014, several projects looking at integrated pest management strategies, cover cropping, and sustainable weeding were conducted by our team of researchers, students, and farmers. By incorporating annual flowering plants into organic kale systems, we identified multiple hostplants that can attract beneficial insects as well as potentially repel Green Peach aphids. We also trialed four species of cover crop that are relatively new to the valley and assessed their influence on soil fertility. Student led projects have looked at relationships between tomato varieties, intercropping, yield, and biological control of whiteflies, while future studies will investigate the use of repellant plants in managing leafcutter ants.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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