Researcher to work with smart irrigation technologies

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News Release Distributed on 05/22/14

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Stacia Davis has been hired as an assistant professor of irrigation engineering at the LSU AgCenter Red River Research Station in Bossier City. She is part of a recently formed team that helps Louisiana producers manage irrigation systems and maintain good water quality.

Davis, who recently graduated from the University of Florida with a doctorate in agricultural and biological engineering, will work with smart irrigation technologies that help farmers and homeowners decide when to apply water and how much.

It is important to promote these tools in Louisiana, she said, where many producers use row irrigation – an inefficient method that causes much of the water to end up in ditches and not on plants.

Devices such as evaporation and transpiration, or ET, controllers and soil-moisture sensors allow farmers to measure how much water they use, determine if it is efficient and schedule applications based on plants' needs. Homeowners can use a residential version of these sensors and controllers to efficiently water gardens and lawns.

Davis said sensors are becoming increasingly popular and are the focus of much irrigation research today. These technologies are useful in growing all types of crops, which is good because water efficiency is an important issue that is affecting agriculture across the board, she said.

"We have a lot of water-quality problems in Louisiana, and this will help," Davis said. "Farmers apply fertilizers and pesticides to their crops, and if they don't manage their water properly, it runs off into the water supply. We also have to make sure these technologies are economically viable for producers."

In addition to Davis, the water resource team at Red River includes an economist, an agronomist and a water quality expert.

Olivia McClure is a student worker in AgCenter Communications

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