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Kirti Rajagopalan Agro-Ecosystems Modeling

Brief descriptions of selected ongoing projects are provided below. Please reach out to us to provide feedback or know more.

Decision support for managing climate related risks in tree fruit and wine grapes.

We are looking at three critical production risks to quantify (a) how they are likely to evolve and (b) how they could be managed for.

The first relates to winter season dynamics and probability of bud damage in wine grapes.  One might intuitively expect that exposure to warmer temperatures might reduce the risk of cold damage. However, we are finding that there can in fact be an increased risk given that cold hardiness development is a dynamic process.  This work is in collaboration with Markus Keller.

The second relates to honeybee population dynamics. Here we are finding that exposure to warmer temperatures is changing the population structure of overwintering bees in  a way that makes them more susceptible to colony failures. We are evaluating cold storage as a management strategy. This work is in collaboration with Vince Jones, Tobin Northwood, Brandon Hopkins, Gloria Hoffman, and Bob Curry.

The third relates to changing sunburn risks in apple in collaboration with Lee Kalcsists.

Technology for trade: new tools and new rules for improving water use in agriculture and beyond.

Our group is leading the evaluation of the skill and value of seasonal forecasts of water availability for decision making. This is in collaboration with colleagues at WSU, University of Washington and University of California, Merced. We are also actively involved in other aspects of the project.

For a project description, check out the project website or this information rich poster. Check out this recent article as well.

Yoder, Jonathan, Julie Padowski, and Kirti Rajagopalan. 2020.  Coevolution of technology and law for water management in Washington State and beyond.  In Washington Agribusiness Status and Outlook 2020.  IMPACT Center.  Washington State University.  Pp. 37-41.

2020 level irrigation depletions for modified flow calculations

We recently completed the estimation of irrigation depletions in the Columbia River Basin for the Bonneville Power Administration.  Please check out the technical report here. Don’t want to read a long report? No worries. There is a short executive summary in the report as well.

How many irrigated acres are currently “double cropped” in Washington State?  How is that expected to change?

An understanding of the current extent of double cropped acres and how that might change as a response to warmer temperatures is critical from a water management and water rights management perspective, given the potential to alter the irrigation water  “season of use”. In collaboration with Mike Brady we are taking an integrated remote sensing and empirical approach to address this question.

How might the risk of water rights curtailment evolve in the future?

Many parts of Washington State face curtailment of irrigation water rights and low environmental flow conditions in streams. The magnitude and frequency of these events vary spatially and temporally. We are working on improved modeling efforts to capture these regulatory and human- behavior influenced effects more realistically. We are interested in exploring strategies to reduce the potential negative effects of water shortages, and strengthen the resilience of regional agricultural and natural systems to fluctuations in weather and changes in climate.