Two Lubbock-based Texas A&M AgriLife staffers garner national recognition

Helping farmers to improve efficiency for microirrigation systems to irrigate their land sustainably during dry times has earned national recognition for two Texas A&M AgriLife staffers at Lubbock.

Dr. Dana Porter, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural engineering specialist-irrigation and water management, and Jim Bordovsky, Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer, were honored with the 2014 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award.

The Lubbock team was among 19 land-grant universities honored for their collaborative efforts during the awards program held at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 3.

The project's name is to be added to a plaque at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Waterfront Centre in Washington, D.C. The group will also receive $15,000 to support their ongoing work.

"The Multistate Research Program is one of the best kept secrets of the land-grant university system," said H. Michael Harrington, executive director of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors, in a news release announcing the award. "This award recognizes outstanding interdependent efforts of researchers and Extension specialists that have come together to tackle a priority issue that no institution can address on their own."

Harrington said the group's microirrigation project was selected from among 300 multistate projects for the group's major advances in sustainable agriculture and water conservation accomplished since its 1972 inception.

Microirrigation systems use a network of polyethylene plastic tubing, engineered emitters and advanced sensors and controllers, to deliver the right amount of water to the crop at the right time, said Porter. She said that over the last five years, the inter-university effort known as W-2128, has led to new, easier to use and more durable equipment and tools.

"Jim's agricultural research program and my AgriLife Extension program promote appropriate applications of efficient advanced irrigation technologies, including microirrigation to our region's farmers. Our production area is generally water-limited, so our producers are motivated to manage their water efficiently, and microirrigation offers them great potential for efficient water application.

"Our producers are progressive and readily adopt technologies that make sense. And now with producers having good success with microirrigation here, others are becoming interested in adopting the technology."

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Porter said the technology works well for the region's crops and conditions and has been proven through applied research programs involving herself and Bordovsky at Lubbock and Halfway and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service colleagues at Bush land.

"The main reason this technology has been such a success here is that we enjoy great collaboration among and between AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension programs, producers and the industry," Porter said.

"Multi-state projects like this one offer great opportunities for sharing of ideas," she said. "We present our research projects, discussing and critiquing the work and results. This kind of interaction really can improve research and Extension programs. It forms a foundation on which to build larger collaborative projects and programs. We definitely learn from each other and the diverse programs and complementary expertise found within this group help us address issues more comprehensively and efficiently than we could individually."

In addition to Texas A&M University's AgriLife component, other participating land-grant institutions include: Auburn University; University of Arizona; University of California, Davis; University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Colorado State University; University of Florida; University of Hawaii; University of Idaho; Iowa State University; Kansas State University; Mississippi State University; University of Nebraska; New Mexico State University; Cornell University; Oregon State University; University of Puerto Rico; University of the Virgin Islands; Washington State University; and the University of Wyoming. The universities also collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Agricultural Research Service.

The W-2128's efforts are supported in part through USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by the Multistate Research Fund established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act.

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