NMSU professors use satellites to help farmers with water efficiency

Less than 10 percent of the farms in the Mesilla Valley are reaching their full potential yield due to water inefficiency, according to Dr. Zohrab Samani, foreman professor of water resources at New Mexico State University.

Dr. Samani and Dr. Hatim Geli each will give presentations in the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum’s Theater at 7 p.m. on April 11 about how satellites are being used to gather information to aid water management in New Mexico.

This special evening presentation is being held in conjunction with the Las Cruces Space Festival and admission is free.

Dr. Samani will present “Application of Remote Sensing Technology in Water Management,” and Dr. Geli will talk about the use of satellite information to improve New Mexico’s agricultural production and water efficiency.

“Satellite technology provides us with real time information of when to irrigate the crops and how much water to apply,” said Samani. “We have found that many farmers do not irrigate at the right time, put too much water or not enough water. These practices result in the loss of precious water and loss of yield and consequently loss of income for the farmers. For example, the average yield of pecans in the Mesilla Valley is 1,500 pounds per acre while the potential yield is 3,000 pounds per acre. Only less than 10-percent of the farmers get that potential yield. Satellite technology can lead us to that potential.”

Dr. Samani has more than 40 years of experience in teaching and research of remote sensing, water management, irrigation systems design, groundwater hydrology and international technology transfer. He has worked in 18 difference countries promoting water management technologies.

Dr. Geli’s research also focuses on water management and remote sensing. One of his major research activities involves understanding and modeling food-energy-water nexus to enhance its resiliency due to the impacts of drought and socioeconomic shock.

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