Irrigation plays a vital role toward food-water security of the growing population in arid and semi-arid regions. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an arid landmass characterized by hot and dry climate, and poor-quality soils (with annual rainfall of <100 mm), which hinder crop productivity. Compounded by the effects of unsustainable freshwater withdrawals for irrigation, excessive evaporative loss of water and nutrient-deficient sandy soils present a threat to the food−water security situation in arid regions. To improve crop productivity, the development and deployment of innovative and sustainable technologies is necessary to enhance the use-efficiencies of water and nutrient resources. In response to these challenges, our group developed two complementary soil amendment technologies: a Superhydrophobic sand mulch (SandXTM) and a Biochar (CarboSoilTM) customized for sandy soils. In this seminar, I will present the findings from our translational research and highlight the synergies between soil amendment technologies and irrigation strategies for optimal plant growth. I will also pinpoint the challenges involved during the research transition from controlled to field-scale studies for the arid land context.
Dr. Kennedy Odokonyero obtained a Ph.D. in Agricultural Science and a Graduate Certificate of Research from the University of Tasmania in Australia (2017) and an MSc. in Agro-environmental Management from Aarhus University in Denmark (2013). He worked as a Ph.D. Fellow at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia and held a Visiting Research Scientist position at the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BeCA-ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. His research interests lie within plant-soil-microbial interactions to improve plant resilience to environmental stresses and improve yields under changing climatic scenarios. Kennedy joined Prof. Himanshu Mishra’s team as a postdoc in 2018 and has been instrumental in driving translational research efforts on soil amendment technologies for improving soil and plant health under varying irrigation regimes.