Korus shared expertise with Argentina ag workshop

Jesse Korus delivers his presentation during a recent agriculture workshop with Argentina. | Courtesy image
Jesse Korus delivers his presentation during a recent agriculture workshop with Argentina. | Courtesy image

Sustainably intensifying agriculture to feed a growing world is a goal that nations worldwide share.

The many agricultural parallels between Argentina and Nebraska make it a logical move to collaborate in research and extension, share best practices, and learn from each other’s' experiences and challenges. Making progress to this end, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska co-hosted a workshop with the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, the Ministry of Agroindustry of Argentina and the National Agricultural Technology Institute in Buenos Aires earlier this month. The collaborative multiday work session focused on high productivity agriculture with center pivot irrigation.

“Argentina is a country with tremendous agricultural resources and expertise and they are looking to make even greater investments in this important sector," said Josh Davis, assistant vice chancellor for Global Engagement, IANR. "Nebraska has been developing relationships in Argentina for some time, and the workshop that we co-hosted with the Ministry of Agroindustry provided additional opportunities to collaborate across our mission areas of education, research, and extension and to tie this engagement to economic development opportunities for our state."

Representatives from various sectors of the Argentine government across agriculture and water, researchers and practitioners from INTA, as well as producers from several provinces attended the workshop. The Nebraska delegation included experts from various areas of the university, including the Departments of Biosystems Engineering, Agronomy and Horticulture, Agricultural Economics, the School of Natural Resources, DWFI leadership, IANR leadership, as well as a manager of a Nebraska Natural Resources District.

The groups presented and participated in working groups in areas of Nebraska expertise like irrigation management, intensifying crop production, groundwater monitoring and characterization as well as governance.

Jesse Korus, groundwater hydrologist with the Conservation and Survey Division in the School of Natural Resources, was one of those.

“I shared the Nebraska story on aquifer characterization and groundwater monitoring with the Ministry of Agroindustry, and later, a group of farmers, in Buenos Aries, Argentina,” he said. His key points focused on how the state has made and continues to make strategic investments in aquifer characterization, groundwater information systems and monitoring networks; how the state is on the leading edge of the use of new technology for imaging aquifers and mapping subsurface; and how its monitoring program is large, complex and advanced, yet provides essential information for water managers.

He later visited the University of La Plata, to explore research partnerships with geologists at the Federal University of La Plata, where Baily Lathrop, a student in the Nebraska's Earth and Atmospheric Sciences program, is completing her stay as a Fulbright scholar. Korus gave a talk on the sedimentary geology of river and delta deposits, which his research focus areas.

The results of the main workshop included preliminary policy recommendations and concept notes for each of the identified thematic areas. The workshop shaped a vision on irrigation and water use for agricultural production, helping to establish high productivity and sustainable irrigation agriculture as national priorities in Argentina. At the close of the day’s proceedings, it was clear that a solid foundation had been laid for future collaboration.

Why Nebraska?
Sustainable irrigation development and agricultural management are growing as priorities in Argentina to ensure future water and food security. With a highly productive, yet sustainably managed irrigated agricultural system and unique approach to groundwater governance through the Natural Resources District system, Nebraska stood out to Argentina as a logical example from which to learn.

In the last year, a number of Argentine officials and representatives from national and provincial governments have visited Nebraska to experience the state’s agricultural and water management systems firsthand, and to explore areas of mutual interest with the University of Nebraska. This included signing a letter of agreement between the Ministry of Agroindustry and the university. Subsequently, a Nebraska delegation visited Argentina in October 2016 to explore further areas of mutual interest and to develop a partnership in water and agriculture that aligns with the countries' mutual interests.

These close ties, in addition to their academic and applied value in irrigation and groundwater management, also contribute to expanding economic opportunity for Nebraska across several agricultural industries: from irrigation equipment to beef genetics and beyond.

For more information about future collaborations between Nebraska and Argentina, please contact Josh Davis at jdavis@unl.edu.