Water quality, quantity will be focus for new AgriLife Research scientist
Texas AgriLife Research has hired Srinivasulu Ale, Ph.D., to fill the newly created position of assistant professor-geospatial hydrology at Vernon, according to John Sweeten, Ph.D., AgriLife Research director for Vernon and Amarillo programs.
The new hydrologist position will help fill a gap in the research programs already in existence at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at both Vernon and Amarillo, Sweeten said.
Ale also will have an academic appointment with the department of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M University at College Station.
As a geospatial hydrologist, Ale will look at water and nutrient balance under complex cropland and rangeland management systems from field to aquifer and then develop management strategies to increase water-use efficiency and protect water quality.
"How you manage that land will affect water quality, as far as sediment, nitrate and phosphorous loads," Ale said. "All these influence the water quality downstream."
"Can we manage or suggest some strategies to deal with these kind issues? My role will be to do the modeling as well as the field experimentation to answer these questions," he said.
With agricultural engineering as his primary study, Ale earned a bachelor's degree from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University in Hyderabad, India; a master's degree from the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India; and a doctorate from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
Ale was a project associate and assistant professor during his career in India and then a graduate research assistant and post-doctoral research associate at Purdue. His work in Indiana was primarily with sub-surface drainage and its influence on water quality and stream-flow pattern. In India, he focused on water resources management and control of salinity in semi-arid regions.
Ale said his program with AgriLife Research will be different from Indiana, where he was dealing with excess water in the soil surface. There, he said, they installed perforated drainage pipes underneath the ground to get rid of excess water, and he studied the movement of the nitrates in this drainage water to minimize nitrate loading that could be harmful to fish in the receiving stream.
The problem in the Texas Rolling Plains and High Plains areas is there is less precipitation and stream flow, as well as depleting aquifers due to groundwater withdrawals, he said. So the focus will be sustainable management of water resources on croplands and rangelands under limited water availability and changing climatic patterns.
His research program will have three areas of work: how to manage the water resources under semi-arid conditions; how to cope with the water quality problems associated with non-point sources; and how to conserve soil and water resources.
"My expertise back at Purdue University was studying watershed processes through hydrological modeling, so I will combine that with my semi-arid field research experience from India in order to address the water resources and water quality-related issues of this region.
"I want to develop strategies for watershed management; how are we going to optimize these water and land resources so that we can maximize agricultural production and at the same time minimize the negative water impacts," Ale said.
"We are fortunate to have found a person of Dr. Ale's training and experience to address these surface and groundwater issues from both water quality and water quantity perspectives as part of a multi-disciplinary team approach," Sweeten said.