News Release Distributed 06/10/14BOSSIER CITY, La. – Smart irrigation technologies could help agricultural producers lower costs and use water more efficiently, according to LSU AgCenter economist Naveen Adusumilli.
Adusumilli joined the Red River Research Station last month as part of a new team that helps Louisiana producers manage irrigation water and maintain good water quality. The group also includes an irrigation engineer, an agronomist and a water quality expert.
Adusumilli holds a doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M and previously worked at an advocacy firm in Washington, D.C., studying economic effects of the Clean Water Act.
Adusumilli will focus on investigating the economics of various water management practices and crop production strategies. Louisiana farmers tend to rely on groundwater for irrigation, he said, which affects production costs because water table levels are fluctuating.
"Agriculture is only one industry that uses water," he said. "It's competing with industry and public supply, and the population is growing. With competing demand and less supply, we must use water more wisely."
Moisture sensors and devices that control irrigation applications may reduce the amount of water used and in the long run lower costs, Adusumilli said. However, many producers are not familiar with these tools, so Adusumilli plans to conduct workshops with local producers about costs and benefits of irrigation technologies.
While these devices demand significant investment and maintenance costs, Adusumilli said, they are certainly worth considering in an age of increasing demand for both water and agricultural products.
"We'll also go beyond the workshops," he said. "Our team is working with farmers in the area to test technologies like moisture sensors in their fields. It's a symbiosis with farmers — we learn from them while they use these technologies, and they learn from us."Olivia McClure
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