IA E3 Program winners 2022: Lal, Vaddevolu

Discover what brought the 2022 E3 Program recipients into the irrigation industry, their future career plans and industry experience

In this series, learn more about the 25 recipients of the Irrigation Association’s 2022 E3 Program, sponsored by The Toro Company and the Carolinas Irrigation Association, awarded to college students studying and pursuing careers in the irrigation field.The Irrigation Association created the program to focus on providing irrigation students (E3 learners) and faculty members (E3 leaders) with exposure, experience and education that revolves around the irrigation industry. The program shows that the “three e’s” are the best way to actively engage the next generation of irrigators.

E3 program sponsorships include an education and travel award to attend the 2022 Irrigation Show and Education Week Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

Uday Bhanu Prakash Vaddevolu

Graduate student at North Dakota State University
Expected Graduation Date: 12/20/22

How and why did you get involved in agriculture?

I was born and brought up on a farm in India. Since my childhood, I have been helping my grandparents with farming and cattle. Furthermore, agriculture is a central part of my country’s culture and a keystone of our lifestyle. Many festivals like Sankranti are based on exalting the virtues of farming.

What experience do you have in agriculture?

Since my childhood, I was involved in actual fieldwork along with my grandparents where I helped them till the land, weed and harvest the crops at seasonal intervals. My experience with agriculture does not end only at the fields, I was also blessed with the opportunity to study it extensively during my bachelor’s at Acharya N.G. Ranga State University, India, and received my master’s in irrigation and drainage engineering department from Kerala Agricultural University, India. These degrees fueled my passion for agriculture further and I have traveled halfway across the world to pursue my PhD at North Dakota State University.

What is a personal accomplishment within the agriculture industry that you’re proud of?

During my internship in my bachelor’s and master’s, I was vested with the opportunity to work with a reputed company called Jain Irrigation back in my country. This experience was special to me because their work was based near the farms of our grandparents. It gave me great pride to be a part of the betterment that directly resulted in increasing the output of the fields that I have worked on during my earlier years. I was exposed to an array of smart irrigation systems and the processes that go into designing them.

What kind of career in agriculture are you working toward?

Agriculture is an eternal sector where we can find unlimited opportunities in it. With all the knowledge I have acquired from school, internships and research experience, I believe that I am destined to work around irrigation and seek to discover more benefits beyond the known ones. I wish to continue working in this area and make a significant impact in irrigation.

What advancements in the agriculture industry are most exciting to you and why?

The recent advancements in the agriculture industry have made a significant impact on farming. Some of those technologies are smart irrigation, precision agriculture and wireless sensors. For instance, smart irrigation technologies like variable rate irrigation and sensor-based irrigation controllers are used to maintain the soil at desired moisture levels. In general, irrigation systems add equal amounts of water throughout the field. This may result in over and under-irrigation in the field. Whereas in variable rate irrigation, the precision map can be used to determine the irrigation time for each sprinkler. This results in maintaining the field at the same moisture levels and may create a similar condition for the whole crop. Thus, over or under-irrigation can be determined.

Ishani Lal

Graduate student at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Expected Graduation Date: 8/20/23

How and why did you get involved in agriculture?

Growing up, I watched my grandfather work for the public sector managing large-scale irrigation schemes as an irrigation engineer. As I grew up, I understood that the agriculture industry feeds the planet. That really stood out to me and led me to study agricultural sciences during my undergraduate program. While studying, I narrowed my interest to managing agricultural water and soil. There is a very satisfying and rewarding feeling about working in an industry that is critical for human life.

What experience do you have in agriculture?

I have a Bachelors in Agricultural Sciences from Banaras Hindu University in India and I am currently pursuing a double master of science degree in agronomy and agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have worked with farmers in Nebraska and the northern part of India. In India, I worked for about a year with an agtech startup company, DeHaat, where I had the opportunity to attend field days and farmers’ meetings, visit farmers’ fields and listen to their successes and challenges. I was then tasked with preparing agronomic information for farmers to integrate and implement into practices on their farms.

What is a personal accomplishment within the agriculture industry that you’re proud of?

I am really proud of experiencing and learning about irrigated agriculture in both smallholder setups and developed countries. That has provided me an important capability to well-understand different perspectives of agriculture globally. I have also been very fortunate and privileged to have mentors in the agricultural industry in the U.S. and internationally who have attuned me to my research career related to irrigation.

What kind of career in agriculture are you working toward?

I am keen to combine my skills and knowledge of agronomy and agricultural economics in the irrigation sector. I would be looking to work on the intersection of agricultural water management, economics and policy, where I could implement my current knowledge of economic and crop modeling related to irrigated agriculture.

What advancements in the agriculture industry are most exciting to you and why?

Application of remote sensing and GIS in agriculture are very exciting to me. I have worked with GIS and spatial data applying to water management in agriculture and that has been one of the most exciting parts of my graduate school experience. The ability to combine satellite-level geospatial data with field-level data produces insightful information that is key to decision-making for growers.

Read more about the E3 program.

Luke Reynolds is the content editor for Irrigation Today and can be reached via email.

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