eNews September 2022

Meet the Researcher, Blair Stringam, Professor, New Mexico State University

Meet the Researcher, Blair Stringam, Professor, New Mexico State University

By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Blair Stringam is a professor for the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University (NMSU) and has been an affiliate since 2008. He currently advises undergraduate students and serves on several graduate student committees. Stringam enjoys teaching students how to find fulfillment in their research and inspiring them to discover better ways to manage water resources. He has a long history with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) and has been awarded funding through the Faculty Water Research Grant Program. Stringam’s funded research topics include furthering the development of a model that describes the influence of the river and canal systems on aquifers and advancing software to operate remote water control sites to provide timely water deliveries. He has published two technical completion reports with NM WRRI (report no. 372 and report no. 393).

Stringam’s areas of expertise center around irrigation, water measurement and management, sensor design/applications, control systems, precision agriculture, and open channel flow modeling. He is currently working on two types of technologies that will help secure water supplies for an extended amount of time. The first project is a user-friendly, inexpensive, and highly-accurate sensor that will allow water users to better monitor soil moisture to maintain that only the required amount of water is used for crops. This sensor is composed of lasers, a micro-processing unit, and a radio transmitter, which allows for easy installation and will be linkable to the user’s cellphone. While this research is still in process, this cellphone connection will enable the sensor to provide updates to the farmer so they can closely monitor crop water use and apply irrigation water as needed.

The second project Stringam is working on is developing a feedback control automation system that will be used to operate irrigation canal systems. This will give canal managers more precision over water deliveries to their users and consistently monitor canal changes to conserve water. This technology will involve using sensors and control computers installed with the required management software. With this system, irrigation districts will be able to promptly provide more precise amounts of water to users. These two projects fully support what Stringam believes to be one of the most challenging issues concerning his research: the extended drought situation in the Southwestern U.S. Stringam believes the increasing demand for water and its continued misuse are areas of significant importance.

Stringam earned his BS in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His MS and PhD degrees were earned in Agricultural and Irrigation Engineering, and Biological and Agricultural Engineering, respectively, from Utah State University in Logan. He has 28 Extension and referred publications, has contributed to 12 proceedings, and holds two patents for a Continuous Flow Measurement Recorder and Recording Method, and an Automated Farm Turnout System. “I have always enjoyed conducting research. . . Throughout my education, I enjoyed classes where I was able to use the scientific method to discover and develop a deeper understanding of water management and control issues,” Stringam states.

Stringam’s long-term research goal is to continue discovering and enhancing practical methods and technologies that provide water users with straightforward water conservation strategies. He plans to pursue water conservation research that will benefit the State of New Mexico by ensuring that water-scarce communities have access to a consistent water supply, and looks forward to any future research collaborations with NM WRRI.