Grant A. Harris fellowship (2019 recipients)


  • 2019 recipients

  • Kelley Drechsler
    Kelley Drechsler –  UC Davis
    Irrigation management of different almond varieties within the same orchard during in-season and post-harvest periods

    Almond production in California has unique water issues, including the need for post-harvest irrigation and the presence of alternating rows of different varieties within the same orchard to establish effective pollination. Many almond orchards are arranged in rows that alternate between a high-yielding variety (e.g., Nonpareil) and one or two pollinator varieties (e.g., Butte, Aldrich).

    Traditionally, farmers have set up their irrigation systems to irrigate the entire orchard the same and cannot independently irrigate the different almond varieties. Instead irrigation decisions are based on the highest-yielding variety (usually Nonpareil). Since each almond tree variety experiences critical growth stages (e.g., hull-split, harvest, bud differentiation) at different times, they may also have different water needs at one time and may benefit from independent irrigation management. This project is investigating how to independently irrigate different varieties without interfering with their shifted growth stages and harvest activities.

    Goal: Evaluate almond orchard growth, yield, nut quality, and water productivity response to independent regulated deficit irrigation management by variety during in-season and off-season. Soil water monitoring using TEROS 12 and TEROS 21 sensors will provide feedback on adequacy of the irrigation. In situ water retention curves will be produced using volumetric water content and soil water potential to understand the soil water retention characteristics in each treatment.

  • Emeka Ndulue
    Emeka Ndulue –University of Manitoba
    Water management of canola and soybeans under tile drainage in the Canadian Prairies

    An efficient water management system for increased crop production without compromising environmental sustainability is necessary to address global food shortage, water scarcity, salinization, and increasing climate extremes. Southern Manitoba is a major crop production area, blessed with fertile soils and a flat topography. However, major problems limiting maximum production in the region are waterlogging caused by snowmelt infiltration and uneven rainfall patterns.

    Proper water table management (WTM) offers the dual function of irrigation and/or drainage. However, like most natural systems involving complex and interrelated processes, water management has necessitated the use of agricultural systems models. The objectives of this proposal are (i) to assess different water table management techniques using subirrigation and tile drainage on canola and soybean yield (ii) to calibrate and validate the HYDRUS (2/3D) model using the measured soil water content within the root zone, spatially and temporally.

    Field plots with three replicated treatments (controlled drainage (CD), Free drainage (FD) and No Drainage (ND)) already installed in a strip-plot design in southern Manitoba will be used over three growing seasons (2019-2021). Each treatment is replicated three times giving a total of 18 plots for the two crops in rotation. Canola and soybean yield will be measured and compared across harvested rows in each treatment. Phosphates and nitrates quantities will be measured in soil and drainage water. Water table depths will be measured using observation wells installed with level loggers (owned).

    Goal: Look at water table management techniques for increased crop production of canola and soybeans in the Canadian Prairies. Products awarded include the TEROS 10ZL6 and TEROS borehole installation tool (rental).

  • Dalyn McCauley
    Dalyn McCauley –University of Idaho
     Development of a weather-based disease warning system for Idaho vineyard

    Producers need real-time detection of crop damaging events in order to better optimize onfarm resource management. A study is proposed to develop a site specific decision support tool for on-farm management of crop damaging weather events. Weather stations will be distributed across two fields of varying landscapes in an Idaho vineyard to identify environmental factors associated with downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) disease. Vineyard canopies will be surveyed to detect the plant physiological response to water and disease induced stress. Maps of the spectral reflectance of vineyard canopies will be compared to distributed weather data. The ability of machine learning algorithms to advance disease prediction will be assessed.

    Goal: Collect environmental data to develop predictive models and detect early onset of downy mildew in vineyards for disease and risk management. Products awarded include the PHYTOS 31ATMOS 41TEROS 21 and TEROS 12.

  • Ammara Talib
    Ammara Talib – University of Wisconsin
    Improving irrigation planning and early prediction for agricultural drought in Wisconsin

    The risks of climate extremes such as heat waves and droughts are increasing and have threatened the north Central America agricultural system in form of increased drought duration, intensity and reduced crop yield. Current drought forecasts cover large regions and are not specific to individual farms. Drought predictive capabilities are in need of significant improvement. Here, we propose to improve forecasting of how crops stress changes over time during different stages of growth through advanced mapping of evapotranspiration (ET) with new NASA spaceborne sensors. This goal will be accomplished by high-resolution (30 m) mapping of surface temperature and water loss by crops in central sands Wisconsin with the recently launched NASA ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment (ECOSTRESS) mission and the polar-orbiting NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and ESA Sentinel microwave satellite.

    From these two products, we will develop, calibrate and evaluate a new ET product against field measurements of ET from a network of crop eddy covariance flux towers and soil moisture sensors. These towers are currently operating in irrigated farm operated by Heartland Farms (where potatoes, corn and soybean crops are rotated) and pine plantation in Tri-county School Forest of WI. New field-scale weekly ET maps will indicate when plants are under stress and farmers can take actions and use limited water resources efficiently to maintain productivity

    Goal: Use ground-based measurements to validate modeled evapotranspiration (ET) from NASA’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) while looking at the crop water use of potatoes, corn, and soybeans. Products awarded include the TEROS 12ZL6 and ATMOS 41.

  • Eureka Joshi
    Eureka Joshi –University of Idaho
    Spatio-temporal variability in drainage and nutrient flux at water reclamation forests

    Land application of reclaimed water on established forests is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly disposal alternative, particularly in Idaho, where tree growth is limited by soil water and nutrient availability. However, elevated risk of nutrient saturation and leaching has been attributed to increased constituent loading from prolonged application of reclaimed water (Barton et al., 2005; Hook and Kardos, 1978). The saturation point is indicative of lifespan of reclaimed water land-application forest sites.

    There are scores of permitted reclaimed water reuse facilities in Idaho. These facilities include management units having received reclaimed water for various time periods up to 50 years. These variable periods of operation offer an opportunity to compare spatio-temporal variability in drainage and nutrient fluxes which would ultimately help determine their longevity. For the proposed research, METER G3s will be utilized to measure variation in nutrient drainage within a suite of other measurements.

    Goal: Study the effect of reclaimed water land application on established forests and their efficacy as “sinks” for prolonged disposal of recycled water. Products awarded include the drain gauge G3 lysimeter, G3 depth sensor and G3 auto pump.



  • Joseph Galen Kornowske
    Joseph Galen Kornowske – Washington State University
    Nutrient loading to groundwater from wastewater effluent irrigation in a northern Idaho lake

    Lake water quality is continually hindered by anthropogenic sources in newly developed zones. Limiting nutrient loading to lakes can reduce eutrophication effects, hence identifying the source of nutrients is a step towards improving water quality.

    This project aims to identify the main pathways water takes from sources with high concentrations of nutrients to the lake. Instrumentation from this fellowship will allow quantification of nutrient leaching through soils to groundwater to provide a loading basis and a starting point for a reactive transport model. Complementary findings will include water transport rate identification and nutrient resident times using an isotopic signature.

    Goal: Examine nutrient loading of nitrogen and phosphorus into local lake systems as a result of subsurface transport (deep drainage). Products awarded include the drain gauge G3 lysimeter, CTD+DG depth, EC and temp sensor for the G3, ATMOS 41ZL6 and ZENTRA Cloud.