Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Irrigation Show & Education Conference 2016: A Student’s Perspective

Last week, UF Graduate Student Maria Vrachioli attended the Irrigation Association’s Irrigation Show and Education Conference as a participant in the immersive E3 Program for students and instructors. This is Ms. Vrachioli’s report back.

I am a third year PhD student in the Food and Resource Economics (FRE) Department in the University of Florida.  As an economist, I have focused on creating applied mathematical models to analyze water efficiency and productivity in the agricultural sector, where the ever increasing demand for food is challenging us to develop more efficient and sustainable ways of exploiting our natural resources. 
Maria Vrachioli - PhD Candidate, UF

Given that agriculture is the biggest consumer of fresh water in the world, irrigation is at the epicenter of this dilemma. To this end, my doctoral dissertation will be focused on understanding how the adoption of new irrigation technologies by farmers can allow them to use a scarce water resource more efficiently, while maximizing their profits. With the support of colleagues at the World Bank, this analysis will be applied on a data base of water consumption and agricultural production in Morocco.

E3 Program Ready
Attending the 2016 Irrigation Show and Education Conference as an E3 Learner will be a good way for me to bridge my academic research on agricultural water use with the latest technologies and practices in irrigation. I took two courses during the event: 
  • Agricultural Irrigation Specialist
  • Principles of Irrigation: Agriculture

Classroom POV: Irrigation is part theory and practice
These courses gave me a really good base on which I can build my future research and let me understand deeply the terminology used by the experts in the irrigation field. I would say that I enjoyed both of the courses, but the Principles of Irrigation in Agriculture course was a little bit more interesting for me as through this 2-day course I was afforded a good review of all the information I learned in different irrigation classes at university.

In the General Session presentation
One of the things that I found really surprising was despite the fact that we have so many efficient irrigation technologies available for farmers, sometimes training is lacking for them to properly adopt new irrigation technology. This results in less efficient irrigation practices and less profits for the farmers.

I spent many hours in the show floor of the IA event and I was really surprised by all the new and innovative technologies presented there. You could find all kinds of companies related to agriculture and landscape irrigation.

Hear the Bringing Water to Life Podcast live from the expo floor
Advice for 2017
Attending the Irrigation Show was an amazing experience for me and I strongly recommend students to attend it in the future. I strongly believe that applying to E3 cannot only help you build on your theoretical and practical skills through the courses, but also it is the best way to expand your network and why not get in contact with your future employer in the irrigation industry.

See you in Orlando, FL!!!

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