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Deficit irrigation focus of new faculty member at NMSU Farmington science center

FARMINGTON – As fresh water becomes more scarce, agricultural producers must learn to maximize its use to produce maximum crop yield.

Man standing in front of satellite map
Koffi Djaman joins the faculty at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington. He is studying deficit irrigation techniques to be used in the Four Corners region. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

“The world’s population is increasing and the availability of fresh water is decreasing. We need to produce more with less water to be able to feed all of the people,” said Koffi Djaman, the newest faculty member at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington. “To do this we must use deficit irrigation.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released on April 24 indicates the Four Corners region will be under exceptional drought conditions. Northern New Mexico is rated extreme drought conditions with the rest of the state at severe drought conditions.

Facing this forecast, Djaman’s main focus is irrigation management and researching the application of deficit irrigation on crops grown in the Four Corners region.

“By doing long-term research and doing modeling you can find the irrigation rate to maintain the yield and improve water productivity,” he said. “You figure out what percentage of maximum watering the plant needs to thrive.”

Djaman joined the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in September 2017. His professional field of expertise includes soil and water resources, irrigation engineering and crop response to irrigation under subsurface drip, center pivot, surface irrigation and rain fed systems.

“We are excited to have Koffi Djaman on board at the Farmington science center,” said Kevin Lombard, superintendent of the research facility. “He brings a skill-set that will help us transform crop science at the science center, especially as we continue to work with the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry in upgrading our six center pivots.”

Prior to accepting the NMSU faculty position, the native of Togo, Africa, was an associate principal scientist, agronomist at the Africa Rice Center regional station in Senegal, Africa, from 2014 to 2016.

“Even rice, which is traditionally grown in flooded patties, can be deficit irrigated,” Djaman said. “You alternate wet and dry periods while the plant grows and forms the rice.”

With a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s degree in agricultural engineering, Djaman was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2008, which brought him to the United States.

He worked as a graduate research assistant in biological systems engineering at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and graduated with his doctorate in soil and water resources and irrigation engineering in 2014.