By RUTH BORGER
LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — Water is essential to Florida farmers. They scrutinize the amount available, its quality and when and how they should use it to grow crops, feed animals and sustain their livelihood.
University of Florida soil and water sciences assistant professor Davie Kadyampakeni works tirelessly with Florida citrus growers to ensure that they have access to the most current research in water use and soil nutrient management to promote good environmental stewardship and crop production efficiency.
Kadyampakeni, working at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, combines a research portfolio with a UF/IFAS Extension appointment to bring the latest information to growers. His work has been so effective that he is being recognized by his colleagues with the 2020 Outstanding Extension Specialist award.
Kadyampakeni’s Extension philosophy is to address the immediate and long-term needs of citrus growers (and growers of other horticultural crops such as peach and blueberries) in Florida by establishing himself as a “go-to” researcher with information provided as needed. The majority of Florida citrus is grown in sandy soil, and growers need thoughtful nutrient and water management strategies to be successful. Educational activities to achieve his goals in Extension include talks, publications, phone calls and demonstrations. His Extension program takes a three-pronged approach by focusing on:
- Irrigation management of citrus for increased production efficiency, and nutrient management for citrus for environmental sustainability and nutrient use efficiency.
- Best management practices; and
- Capacity building and Extension talks. These activities include research publications, conference presentations, workshops, field days and individuals’ consultations.
“Dr. Kadyampakeni deserves this award because of his relentless drive to get information to growers,” said Juanita Popenoe, a UF/IFAS multi-county commercial fruit production agent and the person who nominated him. “He is focused on promoting optimal irrigation and nutrient application rates for citrus affected with huanglongbing (HLB), something that is absolutely needed.”
Over his time with UF/IFAS, Kadyampakeni has processed over 5,000 samples and analyzed for pH or nutrient content and reached out to more than 1,200 participants in workshops.
Nationally, he is the past chair for the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Sensor-based Water Management Community and organized a symposium on “Optimizing efficiency with sensors for irrigation scheduling and water management” at the ASA Annual Meeting in November 2019. Davie was also the 2019 Leader for the W4128 Multistate Project: Microirrigation: A sustainable technology for crop intensification and improved water productivity, with participants from more than 20 Universities in the US and several USDA scientists. He was chair and moderator of a symposium at the 2019 ASA-CSSA-SSSA meetings. He is current Chair for the Citrus Working Group for the American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHS) and chairs the 2020 panel for selecting the International Horticulturalist of the year. He is also the organizer of the Citrus ASHS Workshop on “Novel Practices for Sustaining Citrus Production in the Era of Citrus Greening (Huanglongbing)” scheduled for August 2020 in Orlando, Florida with invited speakers from across US at the ASHS annual conference. He is also the 2020 Citrus Section Vice President for the Florida State Horticultural Society.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.