Irrigation Specialist Joins UNL Panhandle Faculty

Irrigation Specialist Joins UNL Panhandle Faculty

Amir Haghverdi will join the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff this summer as an irrigation and water-management specialist.

Amir Haghverdi
Amir Haghverdi

Haghverdi's appointment was announced by Jack Whittier, Research and Extension director at the Panhandle REC. He will replace Dean Yonts, the long-time Panhandle irrigation specialist who passed away in 2012.

Haghverdi, who begins July 1, will conduct research and extension programs on water and soil resource management for Panhandle crops and cropping systems.  As part of a multidisciplinary team at the Panhandle Center, he will partner with other UNL faculty and organizations, agencies, and advisory groups.

"We are fortunate to attract another very talented, well-trained, and energetic young scientist to the Panhandle," Whittier stated.  "Amir brings an incredible set of modern tools and technology to address water management issues in this region and build on the high impact work of his predecessor, Dean Yonts. We eagerly await his arrival and his joining with the current team of crop and livestock specialists here at the Center."

Haghverdi said he is looking forward to investigating the possibilities of precision farming technology for enhancing irrigation management in the Panhandle.

"Due to the significant advancement in instrumentation and measurement techniques in recent decades, new opportunities and challenges have arisen for agricultural researchers and extension specialists; thus, agriculture has rapidly evolved into a data rich field," Haghverdi said. "Previously, data collection and analysis was time consuming and expensive, which limited irrigation studies to experimental farms with small plots. In today's agriculture, precision farming technology allows most farmers in the United States to continuously produce valuable site-specific information. I personally believe the future of agriculture will consist of a dynamic network of individual farmers who learn from their daily occupational practices."

Haghverdi's research is in agricultural water management with irrigation engineering, soil hydrology, and spatiotemporal data mining as the main themes. He earned his first Ph.D. degree in irrigation engineering in Iran. He studied spring wheat deficit-saline irrigation using advanced statistical analysis and machine learning approaches.

Currently, he is pursuing his second Ph.D. in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he expanded his research to precision agriculture. His major subject is optimizing cotton site-specific irrigation through remote sensing, GIS and GPS technologies, on-the-go sensors and site-specific wireless sensing systems.

He received the outstanding graduate student award from International Society of Precision Agriculture, and has been collaborating with scientists in Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Germany and Iran.

Haghverdi's goal is to conduct an integrated research-extension program that incorporates computer modeling and laboratory/field experiments.

He is one of three new faculty members joining the staff at the Panhandle Center. The others include Range and Forage Management Specialist Mitchell Stephenson, who began March 30, and Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist Cody Creech, who will begin May 1.

The Panhandle Extension District encompasses 16 counties in western and north-central Nebraska, including Banner, Blaine, Box Butte, Cherry, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Hooker, Morrill, Kimball, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sioux, and Thomas counties.

David Ostdiek
Communications Specialist, Panhandle REC

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