Earl Vories has been a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers for 30 years, and has attended ASABE conferences since he was in graduate school at the University of Arkansas.
Vories, a professional engineer, earned a major award at the most recent ASABE conference — the Award for the Advancement of Surface Irrigation.
“These conference have been very useful for discussing research and also for catching up with colleagues I only see about once a year,” Vories said.
The award recognizes individuals who are showcasing good use of surface irrigation methods. Vories was honored for his work on multiple inlet flood irrigation in rice production.
“It was very exciting,” Vories said. “I have nominated or written letters of recommendation for other winners in the past, including a group from Missouri, so I’m very familiar with the award. It was an honor to be nominated and a special honor to receive the award.”
Vories is an agricultural engineer with the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in the Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit. He is also an adjunct professor in biological engineering with the University of Missouri and works at the Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo.
Vories earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.
His research focuses on several areas, including agricultural water management, precision agriculture and water quality. A large part of his research is focused on irrigation.
“Because surface irrigation is so widely used in our region, even small improvements can result in large savings,” Vories said. “While we don’t currently face the water shortages we read about in other areas, we can’t afford to be complacent and stop looking for ways we can do better.”
Vories’ research looked at how to reduce the amount of water needed to grow rice. To do that, Vories and his team terminated the pumping of irrigation earlier than normal, used furrow irrigation instead of a continuous flood and used multiple water inlets instead of a single inlet.
Along with research on rice, Vories has also done work with cotton, harvest equipment and techniques, and collected wind-erosion data.
Vories is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Environmental and Water Resources Institute.
The Award for the Advancement of Surface Irrigation has been awarded since 2000. The award is not given out every year, however. Vories is just the fourth recipient since 2009.
“Surface irrigation is the predominant method used in the Mid-South so there is a lot of opportunity for impact,” Vories said. “In addition to conserving water, energy and labor savings result when farmers irrigate more efficiently.”
The Award for the Advancement of Surface Irrigation is sponsored by the Fund for Furthering Flexible Irrigation (4FI) under the Merriam Endowment for Irrigation and Water Management at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.