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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Irrigation specialist to receive Roberts Memorial Staff Award

Dan Smeal, an irrigation specialist with New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center in Farmington, has been selected to receive the Stephen W. and Robert E. Roberts Memorial Staff Award.

Dan Smeal, irrigation specialist with the Agricultural Science Center in Farmington, will receive NMSU's Roberts Memorial Staff Award. (NMSU photo)

NMSU President Jay Gogue will present Smeal with a plaque and the $750 award at a ceremony at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the New Mexico Room of Corbett Center on the main campus in Las Cruces.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Roberts Memorial Staff Award is presented annually to a staff member who has made a contribution to university life and demonstrated dedication and outstanding service to the community as a responsible citizen.

"I think he deserved to be nominated because of his excellent work," said Mick O'Neill, assistant professor and superintendent of the Agricultural Science Center in Farmington. "We're really glad that Dan got it (the award)."

Smeal has worked 17 years for NMSU and has been instrumental in developing water use production functions for a wide range of commercially important crops in New Mexico, such as chile, alfalfa and corn. Smeal has also been developing better types of turf grass.

"He has been working with turf grass to determine what types of turf grow better and use less water in an area where water is so critical," O'Neill said.

Much of Smeal's work has also been in developing more efficient means of irrigating crops and better management of irrigation systems.

"We study the relationship between crop yield and water use and identify the optimum water requirements for each crop," Smeal said.

"Obviously, as the population increases in the Southwest, the demand for water is also increasing," Smeal said. "It's a precious resource that has to be conserved and used wisely to ensure we have an adequate supply for the future."

The Roberts Award was established in 1983 in memory of Stephen W. and Robert E. Roberts, sons of former NMSU Assistant Vice President for Business Affairs George W. Roberts and his wife, Bernice. The award is made possible through donations of the Roberts family and friends.

Stephen, a 1974 NMSU graduate, and Robert, an NMSU student, were killed in an automobile accident in 1978.