eNews February 2021

Meet the Researcher, Sangamesh Angadi, Professor, New Mexico State University

Meet the Researcher, Sangamesh Angadi, Professor, New Mexico State University

By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Sangamesh (Sangu) Angadi is a professor of crop stress physiology for the Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) Department at the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Agricultural Science Center at Clovis. He teaches special topic classes for graduate students and presents guest lectures in several courses. Sangu has written and collaborated with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) on several proposals over the years and mentions that his research’s primary goal is to improve our agriculture’s water productivity and conserve water resources.

Angadi completed both his BS (1983) and MS (1985) in Agriculture from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, focusing on agronomic management of rainfed hybrid cotton. He earned his PhD (2001) from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, researching water relations of different height sunflower cultivars. Throughout his career, Sangu has worked as a statistician, scientist, and research/teaching assistant.

Concerning his research, Sangu expresses one of the most important aspects of his position involves “introducing well-adopted, low water-using, stress-tolerant alternative crops into local cropping systems and designing sustainable cropping systems to help improve climate resiliency, resource conservation, resource use efficiency, and other ecosystem services to reduce Ogallala Aquifer depletion and sustain irrigated agriculture in the region.” He states that he and his colleagues are developing suitable deficit irrigation management strategies to help protect the multibillion-dollar rural economy and assist in the smoother transition of agriculture from deficit irrigation to dryland farming.

Angadi and his colleagues are currently working on a project to introduce native perennial grass mixtures into irrigated agriculture in the form of Circular Buffer Strips (CBS). These grass strips will alternate with crop strips and provide several advantages. Sangu has stated that this technique will “rearrange the underutilized portion of a circular pivot into CBS to improve the sustainability of the Ogallala Aquifer…[and] enhance environmental stewardship, water conservation, and use in the entire Great Plains.” He anticipates the water cycle’s benefits to include 1) reduced evaporation and runoff losses of rainfall and irrigation water, 2) high-intensity precipitation conservation, and 3) advanced soil water storage and crop water use efficiency. Sangu predicts that CBS could also refine food productivity through improved soil health, natural resource conservation, system resiliency (e.g., reduced stress and better resource use), climate change mitigation, and biodiversity (e.g., pollinators, beneficial insects, nutrient cycling). Angadi’s preliminary results are promising, and show improvements in grain yield (>20%), microclimate, water conservation, and biomass production in border rows.

Angadi is additionally working on a USDA-NIFA-CAP grant entitled, Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions, to develop a desert-adapted alternative crop ‘Guar’ for the Southwestern region. The main focus areas will be on stress physiology, deficit irrigation management, and agronomy of the crop. According to Sangu, he hopes that through his research he will be able to inform producers about the challenges faced by agriculture in this region, including limited irrigation and dryland conditions.

Angadi has been a mentor to many young scientists and has offered his expertise to undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral researchers alike. He is a graduate student committee member for three NMSU students, one University of Arizona student, and one Texas Tech University student. NM WRRI recently awarded Sangu’s PhD student, Paramveer Singh, an FY20-21 Student Water Research Grant for their project entitled, Improving Green Water Use Proportion in a Center Pivot Irrigation System by Using Circular Grass Buffer Strips. This research aims to improve the water cycle’s efficiency by using water isotopes to see an increase in transpirational use of rainfall and a reduction in evaporation loss due to CBS.

Angadi has written and collaborated on over 80 refereed journal articles concerning water use efficiency, crop yield, irrigation, and various other agricultural concepts. He has several articles in review for publication in the coming year. Angadi is currently working with his team on an article entitled, Preliminary Benefits of Circular Buffer Strips of Perennial Grasses in a Center Pivot Irrigation in the Southern Great Plains, in preparation for the Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment journal.

Sangu has been the recipient of several honors and recognitions including the Mobley Family Endowed Research Award from the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at NMSU, and the USDA Team Award for an outstanding integrated program in water resources. His research project entitled, Circular Buffer Strips (CBS) of Native Perennial Grasses, was also showcased by the Soil and Water Conservation Society as an innovative idea in 2019. He has attended and presented at more than 145 conferences and meetings over the course of his career.

Sangu is an active member of six professional affiliations including the Crop Science Society of America, Soil and Water Conservation Society, and the American Society for the Advancement of Science. He also serves in a variety of professional appointments including being the Chair of the PES Award Committee, and a member of multiple faculty recruitment committees in the College of ACES.

Regarding his future goals, Sangu has expressed that “water will be the most important factor limiting food security of [our] exponentially growing population.” With that in mind, he believes we need to develop new technologies that will not only increase water productivity, but also improve ecosystem services, system resiliency, and mitigate climate change. He plans to perform more research on the roles of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data science with multi-disciplinary teams as a way to enhance the water efficiency of production systems. Sangu Angadi emphasizes that while researchers in other parts of the state are dealing with water resources that are renewable, he is working on fossil water from the Ogallala Aquifer that is quickly depleting, thus creating an extra urgency to help eastern New Mexico prepare to face current and future challenges in the region.