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K-State researcher to expand network that aids irrigation water use

By Melissa Harvey
A project led by a Kansas State University agronomist that uses technology to study microclimate data is among seven ideas to be funded by the Irrigation Innovation Consortium, the group has announced.
Eduardo Santos, an associate professor in the Department of Agronomy, is the lead researcher in a project titled Deployment and Maintenance of Flux Towers in Kansas to be Integrated to the Parallel 21 Flux Networks to Support Multi-State Real-Time Evapotranspiration Estimates.
Flux towers track carbon dioxide exchanged between forests and the atmosphere. Santos and his team will construct and maintain towers in Kansas to provide real-time and quality-controlled crop and turfgrass evapotranspiration (ET) measurements that will be integrated in an existing network of flux towers located across the Great Plains region.
According to Santos, the project will expand the regional flux tower network and provide data across Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska to improve rural and urban irrigation water use.
“I am very excited to receive this award from the IIC because this project will allow the collection of important datasets for understanding relevant hydrological processes, for modeling regional and global climates and helping farmers optimize their water use,” Santos said.
The research will aid in the development of techniques to map daily ET, information which will be made readily available to farmers, turfgrass managers and other regional stakeholders.
Launched in 2018 with a $5 million contribution from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), the IIC promotes and enhances water and energy efficiency in irrigation. Its ultimate goal is creating greater resiliency in food and agriculture.
Through the consortium, industry and the public sector co-develop, test, prototype and improve equipment, technology, and decision and information systems. Their work is equipping farms of the future with cutting-edge technologies for irrigation efficiency.
K-State is a founding member of the Irrigation Innovation Consortium, which has headquarters at Colorado State University.
In addition to funding Santos’ project, the consortium also funded projects at the University of Nebraska, Colorado State University and the University of California-Fresno. Two additional projects will be conducted within the irrigation industry.
“The proposal review process has resulted in a robust portfolio of funded proposals that fit our mission goals of advancing knowledge, tools, and available technologies and practices that can transform and improve irrigation efficiency,” said LaKisha Odom, chair of the consortium’s Research Steering Committee and a scientific program director for FFAR.
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