Podcast Episode 70

The International Drainage Hall of Fame– It’s a Thing!

With Guests:
  • Dr. Vinayak Shedekar of Ohio State University, Research Scientist
  • Trey Allis, Prinsco Ag Application Engineer

From India to the Heartland, Dr. Vinayak Shedekar joins us from the NACADE convention in Des Moines, Iowa, to have a conversation about water quality, soil health and the International Drainage Hall of Fame. Listen in as guest host Trey Allis and Dr. Shedekar discuss smart drainage systems and how information is power when it comes to agricultural water management on this episode of The Water Table. 

Episode 70 | 39 min
I’m looking at the connection between soil health and water quality– so how does improving soil health affect the water quality coming out of that field?
— Dr. Vinayak Shedekar

Guest Bios

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar is a Research Scientist in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. He is currently assessing field-to-watershed-scale impacts of implementing BMPs such as cover crops, denitrifying bioreactors, and drainage water management on hydrology and water quality. He is also co-leading a statewide Extension signature program focused on soil health, and currently oversees the International Drainage Hall of Fame. 

Trey Allis, Prinsco Ag Application Engineer
Trey Allis

Trey graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. He joined the Prinsco team as an Application Engineer in 2017 and primarily focuses on Agricultural engineering. Growing up on a farm and in the Ag community, Allis has spent a lot of his career focusing on the Flexible Dual Wall product and the value it adds to the industry.

Speaker 1 (00:02):
This is The Water Table.

A chance to hear the agricultural side of these issues.

Place for people to go find information and education.

Water management is just going to become even more critical into the future.

How misunderstood what we do is.

I would encourage people to open their minds and listen to this dialogue.

Jamie Duininck (00:32):
Welcome back to the Water Table podcast, this next’s episode with Vinayak Shedekar of the Ohio State University. Vinayak is a specialist in Ag water management and hydrology. And Trey Allis, again, an application engineer with Prinsco, interviewed Vinayak and they just had a really action packed, fun conversation. I’m honored to say Vinayak, he said something about a dream come true to be on my podcast. I would love to interview you again in the future because I heard just a lot of great things about what you guys talked about. They talked a lot about drainage and what the conservation perspective when talking about water management changes and the conversation of drainage from a results based perspective to prepare for an unpredictable future was something that you’re going to find interesting in here.

Also, Vinayak just talked about how drainage sits in a perfect position to affect water quality and soil health research and rearrange the thinking around water management, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here at the water table and just educate people on what drainage water management really is. They also talked about the fact that we are seeing a need for water management as a way to simply sustain yields in a lot of cases. Agriculture is now a game of information and acting on what we know. Talk about that kind of thing a lot in our podcast, but information is power and I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode with Vinayak and Trey Allis. Thanks for joining The Water Table.

Trey Allis (02:20):
Welcome back to The Water Table podcast. My name is Trey Allis, application engineer with Prinsco, and I’m joined here today at the North American Conservation and Drainage Expo with Dr. Vinayak Shedekar, assistant professor at the Ohio State University. Thanks for joining us here at the show today. And maybe just kind walk through a little bit background about yourself, where’s your education lie and how you kind of get to where you are now.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (02:46):
Sure, absolutely. Trey, thank you, thank you for having me on the podcast. This is like dream come true for me. I’ve been following the podcast and it’s just amazing. I never thought I would be here on this podium to talking about stuff. So anyway, a little bit about me. I grew up in India, did my undergrad and masters in Ag engineering back in India. Came here to US for a PhD in Ag engineering, working on hydrology, Ag water management, and then continued to work on aspects that are more hydrology, water quality, Ag water management. Slowly got into the soil health side of things as well.

So a majority of my current work is kind of at the intersection of soil health, sustainable ag and water management. Of course, water quality is part of it. So as you mentioned, I’m currently assistant professor of Ag water management, so I have the responsibility of being a state specialist for Ag Water management in Ohio. We do a lot of extension work as part of that responsibility. We conduct training programs and also in small events and consultations that are mainly focused on water management, water quality, hydrology and things like that.

Trey Allis (04:05):
First question I got for you, I’ve never been to Ohio, been around Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota’s a little bit. Just kind of curious maybe from your perspective, because I assume you’ve been to all those places as well. Is kind Ohio cookie cutter kind of the same thing from a drainage water management standpoint, or do you guys get anything unique going on over there that’s different than some of the other states?

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (04:24):
Sure, let’s talk about what the current systems are. We’re in the Midwest, majority of our crop land does need drainage. You can’t sustain crop production without drainage, that’s the fact. What is different compared to North Dakota or Minnesota is probably the water balance. We get about 40 inches of water here in Ohio. About half of that goes back right into that atmosphere as you have a transpiration. When it comes to the drainage systems, we’re talking about 10 to 12 inches of water leaving the tile outlets from those drainage systems.

The funny part is, no matter how much you’re draining, drainage does have very similar impacts on are the benefits to your crop production so the purpose is still the same. The purpose is we’re doing drainage to, number one, provide us trafficable conditions. Number two, drainage does have benefits to crop roots, and that’s true in case of Ohio. A majority of our drain landscapes are in Northwest Ohio. Mostly the glacial two soils that we have are very poorly drained soils. As you go further south, especially the river corridors tend to have more well drained soils that don’t necessarily need drainage, but you see drainage pretty much all over the state. Majority of it is in the grain producing ag land, corn and soybean type of systems.

Trey Allis (05:53):
Right, that’s what I was going to ask. Lot of corn, soybean rotation for the most part throughout there and-

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (05:58):
Yeah, one more interesting thing, I’ll tell you, Trey, what I’m seeing is, soil health movement has kind of fueled adoption of cover crops, and I see a lot of farmers wanting to get better drainage so they can establish their cover crops as well. So that’s another factor. It’s not a huge landscape, but I know at least a few farmers who are thinking of drainage from that perspective.

Trey Allis (06:23):
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s what I’ve heard some of that same stuff to up here that’s proper soil health, soil drainage, stuff like that, it benefits what’s growing there. It doesn’t only benefit the corn and soybeans or whatever it’s up there, I mean, from my understanding, I think all crops benefit from it.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (06:40):
Right, yeah. The benefit to crop comes from the improvement in the soil. So what drainage does is it essentially transforms the soil into a better soil, improves a lot of physical properties, improves your nutrient efficiencies. So there is a list of 20 benefits of drainage. One of my predecessors wrote that when, in the year that I was born, so in 1982, Mel Palmer wrote a article and I have it on my website. We kind of highlighted that article and it’s like 20 benefits of drainage and if you go through the list, all those benefits are still valued and there is some more now, so.

Trey Allis (07:21):
Sure, that’s interesting. Yeah, hopefully we can get a link or like you’re saying, maybe we can toss in some slides here to show some of that. Yeah, great historical information on some of that stuff. Mentioned cover crops is some of the best management practices for, I guess, for soil health and that crossover into drainage. And just curious what other tools are in the toolbox for, I guess, benefits on the landscape from agronomics standpoint?

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (07:48):
Absolutely, and I’m going to talk about Ohio primarily because most of my work is in Ohio, but I’m also going to tell you that a lot of the practices that we’re looking at in Ohio are very much the practices applicable anywhere in the Midwest area. So we do have regional collaborations where we are also exploring those same practices at the regional scale. So I’m going to start off on the ag water management side, the water management drainage.

So drainage now, the conventional drainage that we’ve been teaching for, let’s say contractors to design drainage systems, we’re asking to keep a conservation drainage mindset when you’re designing these systems. And then the concept of conservation drainage kind of includes a lot of these practices that relate to drainage or water management. Just to name a few, control drainage or drainage water management is a very well known practice. You guys have talked about that. A lot of times that’s a practice that Ohio was one of the first few states to kind of initiate that research. So we have research that goes back 25, 30 years when they just started exploring what the possibilities are with controlled drainage. My predecessors, Norm Fausey, Larry Brown, they did a lot of research on this practice. A lot of good data came out of this, the state of Ohio then helped with the adoption of the practice.

What I’m working on is more smart ways of controlling the drainage. We have more automated systems coming up, smart drainage systems coming up, and we’re looking at automated control structures and what their potential could be in the landscapes compared to the conventional manual control structures so that’s something new we’re talking about. We’re also looking at how you can pair up control drainage with other practices. For example, you can use the control structures for sub-irrigation type of a system where you are putting water back into that structure that goes back in the field to provide the irrigation benefit. We’re also looking at, “Well, where is the water going to come from?” So we’re thinking, “Well, maybe we can in install a recycling system, collect the drainage water, especially during the months when we don’t need it, collect it, store it, and recycle it back into the system for irrigation or any other purposes.” So those are some of the water management practices we’re working on. We’re also looking very deep into how you can manage the water quality issues and drainage sits at perfect position for helping solve some of those issues.

So we are pairing up our water management practices with some of the treatment type of practices. For example, [inaudible 00:10:47] bioreactors for nitrogen, phosphorous removal structures or phosphorous filters for phosphorous and so on. There is a lot of good practices that we’re looking at. Saturated buffers is a really good practice that you can, it’s an ideal example of water management combined with treatment. So that’s another system we’re looking at. Something different that I’m doing, which is not in the arena of water management is, I’m looking at the connection between soil health and water quality. So how does improving soil health affect the water quality coming out of that field, whether it’s tile drainage or surface or not. So we’re exploring a lot on the nexus between the sustainable act, soil health and water quality.

Trey Allis (11:34):
Yeah, definitely, and that’s kind where my head goes a little bit too. Like you mentioned, there’s controlled drainage, that’s not a new concept that’s been around for a little while. And some of these treatment practices, the saturated buffers, the bioreactors, which we have information on our Water Table website for a lot of those that people can check out on. Just a brief highlight on some of that but maybe taking a step back and looking at how do these systems all either work together or how do you pair in some of those things that you’re looking into to get the benefits of properly managing your water for what you’re growing on top of it so you can stay profitable, but they’re not impact anything downstream or as minimal impact downstream. That’s really encouraging to see or to hear that we got more steam going on that or I hope there’s more steam going on that there.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (12:22):
Yeah, yeah, I mean, essentially, we’re at a stage where we want to demonstrate these practices, but some farmers help, they’re way ahead of us. They have recognized the benefit of irrigation to some extent, and then there is some adoption of irrigation systems even in Northwest Ohio, which is kind of unconventional nowadays.

Trey Allis (12:47):
Yeah, no, and that’s good to hear that too. And that was another, I guess question that kind of the million-dollar question is how do you scale up this stuff? Like I said, they’re not necessarily new practices and I think where we’re at now within the industry is either scaling factor or I guess the feasibility or linking that implementation aspect to some of this. So maybe that’s something that you guys are holding under the cloak at Ohio State that you’re just waiting to release now.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (13:17):
I wish, I wish. Well, and it’s been the history so far that our research is a few years ahead of the adoption that happens and there is a reason for that. You need a lot of data from all different types of variables to get a proof that the practice works. One of the hurdles in getting the adoption of their practice is the fact that the farmer or the landowner has to be convinced that, “Okay, this is going to do something for me or the environment.” And there’s a couple ways to get that, convincing them for the environment.

A lot of funding agencies, our government agencies are investing, incentivizing practices, but then practices like controlled drainage they sell themselves if the farmers see the yield benefit and the economics behind it. So what we’re trying to constantly update our data, conduct long-term studies so that we can confidently come to the conclusions in terms of, “Okay, what are the economic benefits we’re talking about when it comes to this practice and so on.” So some of these newer practices, especially drainage water recycling is going to take some time for us to have the conclusive numbers to present to the farmers. But as I said, it’s looking very promising in terms of the benefits of these practices.

Trey Allis (14:50):
Right, yeah. And that’s something that’s also kind of encouraging, just hearing you speak through it a little bit more and thinking back to how do you gain steam on some of this stuff, and I think where we’re at now within not just taking a step back from agriculture, water management and stuff like that, but information is just that much more available to people. And I think that’s going to eventually get trickled down into the ag sector even more. It already has, but that will start to keep growing that available information for everybody to be able to make those better choices, make those better decisions. So if it’s backed up by the numbers that you guys are working on, that’s going to be even better for having those pieces in place for when that does all come to fruition.

Something else I want to hear you talk about a little bit is at the last Summer there was an international drainage symposium and we had the International Drainage Hall of Fame induction ceremony. So I don’t know if too many people know that there’s a Drainage Hall of fame, but there is one out there and it’s at Ohio State University. So inducted Charlie Schafer with [inaudible 00:15:52] and Dan Jaynes for his work, I believe, with NRCS or the ARS on some of that work. So maybe talk a little bit about the Drainage Hall of Fame and how you got involved in that and what is going on today.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (16:05):
So as I mentioned, as part of my position, I also got the responsibility to lead the Drainage Hall of Fame. It’s not as glorious or as big as the NFL Hall of Fame or any other hall of fames, but apparently Columbus is home to 25 different hall of fames and Drainage Hall of Fame is one of them.

Trey Allis (16:28):
Drainage is one of them, that’s all right.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (16:31):
Just to share some history with you, this was started in 1979. Glen Schwab, professor Glen Schwab, who was my predecessor, a very well known drainage expert, he came up with the idea of this Drainage Hall of Fame, and it’s an international award, so it’s kind of coming up with an international award for outstanding achievements or contributions to the field of drainage. And what he visioned out was the award can be made to anyone who has made significant contributions towards not just research, could be a teacher, could be a extension educator, could be a educator for non-traditional audiences and so on, and could be an industry person. And that’s why if you go through the list of inductees we have had so far, that shows that diversity.

So going back to 1979 when the first hall of fame was awarded to Dr. Don Kirkham, who is again, well known name in the drainage drainage research, the fourth person to get awarded, inducted was Fred Galehouse who is a drainage contractor from Ohio. And then more recently you saw Charlie Schafer, who represents the industry, agri rain. He has done outstanding work in terms of providing the leadership to the water management aspects and really bringing people together. And then Dr. Dan Jaynes, who worked for USDARS and did a lot of outstanding research on saturated buffers. He was a member of the Gulf of Hypoxia task force, came up with a lot those initial recommendations and targets and so on.

So last year, as you mentioned, we conducted the induction ceremony here in Des Moines where we’re at, and since 1979, we have inducted 27 people into this hall of fame. So if people are interested, again, we can provide you a link and we can put it up on the podcast website for people to see who has been inducted. But yeah, it’s a kind of ongoing process. We’re constantly accepting nominations and there is a committee that reviews the nominations [inaudible 00:18:59]. It’s a really great award and it’s a great honor for people to be in that hall of fame.

Trey Allis (19:04):
Right, yeah. It’s a really niche industry, I guess, and a niche hall of fame as well. But hey, those of us that are involved in it appreciate that recognition that I know that ceremony that we had with those two was really good, really good ceremony, and I know that they really appreciated it as well.

And maybe tailoring off of that is, I remember in Charlie’s speech, one of the things that he was kind of building up and starting to gain more grasp on is the automation of those control structures that you’re talking about too. And I think he gave a good analogy of adaptive cruise control that’s going on in cars now where you’re on your cruise control and you’re going 70 miles an hour where the car heading is going 65, it’s going to slow down to know that it doesn’t need to go 70 because you’re going to get in trouble. So he was making that analogy to controlled drainage, is the automation process of that to that’s going to be a key with these practices taken off. And you said you’ve been doing some of the research in that realm too, so maybe share with us a little bit of what you’re finding on the automation side of controlled drainage.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (20:13):
Yeah, so the main reason behind that is for the last hundred years or more, we have thought about drainage as a passive system, install it, forget about it. You know it’s working, you don’t really think about managing that system. With controlled drainage structures being there, you have the ability to manage it, and you might ask, “Well, why would you even think about managing it?” Many reasons. We did a regional analysis based on all the studies that have been done on drainage water management across the Midwest. We came together, analyzed the data, and then came to a conclusion that number one, controlled drainage, only controlled drainage has some water conservation benefits that translate into yield benefit. But that wasn’t throughout all the years, all the sites, it was only somewhere around 20 out of the 55 site years. [inaudible 00:21:17] When we saw that clear benefit, there were 12 out of that 55 or so where we didn’t really see much difference between just the controlled drainage versus a free draining outlet said, “Okay, that’s fine.”

But then what caught our attention was about 6 to 10 years, side years where we actually saw a negative impact. So controlled drainage ended up negatively affecting the crop use, and then we started wondering why that’s happening. So when you take a deep dive into the data that shows, those were the years where we had, majority of those years, we had a lot of rainfall during the growing season, and it ended up being the case that we had excess moisture stress on those crops. Those are the years when you actually want to manage your structures more actively. So that’s kind of the thought process behind it.

The other challenge that we’re going to get in the future is the erratic weather patterns. We’re getting more and more intense rain events, bigger and bigger storms, three, four inch storms, which means that you can’t just rely on a free draining outlet or a control structure, you got to think proactively. If I’m expecting a couple inches of rainfall, maybe I need to drain my already controlled field, create storage so I can soak up or I can at least minimize the impact of that storm by creating storage in my soil so maybe you can think about adjusting the outlets in advance. So that’s another benefit to it. So there is many benefits that come to this, but imagine having, being a farmer managing 5,000 acres and having to manage 25, 30 control structures-

Trey Allis (23:13):

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (23:13):
Are you going to go and pull boards up or put boards down at every structure every couple weeks? That’s practically impossible. Maybe it’s possible where it’s very time-consuming. So that’s where automation comes in. That’s where the smart water management concept comes in. Imagine if you had a system that can give you kind of a recommendation based on the weather forecast. It’s using maybe artificial intelligence to kind of come up with a recommendation. It comes on your phone app, and then with a click of a button, you are able to manage those 25, 30 structures that you may have.

So there is a lot of benefits that you can think of. And then what we’re talking about, water management is not separate for a farmer, it’s part of his farming operation or their farming operation. The rest of the farming operation, if you look at in the last 5 or 10 years, it has gotten more into digital agriculture type of technology advancement. Every system is connected, a lot of data being collected, being sent to the cloud and being analyzed. So I think water management needs to be part of that digital agriculture solution as well. So that’s another reason why we’re thinking, “Well, maybe we need to do a lot more research and then bring our systems so that everything can be connected on a farm and your tile outlet doesn’t need to be disconnected from your network.”

Trey Allis (24:39):
Right, yeah, no, and that’s a good point. Linking it to where the data is, and I’m just trying to think back on my parents’ farm is there’s just a whole lot of hand drawn tile maps that are sitting out everywhere. So that’s the water part of the equation on a lot of this stuff is forgotten a lot. It’s a lot of year yield monitors and corn hybrids and stuff like that where tying in the water part of it, as critical as it is to the whole system, I think that’s something that does get forgotten.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (25:13):
And there is two parts to it, you do the research, but the main thing is you got to be able to educate people with what you find. And so that’s what I left one big detail out of my job for the last section of this because I wanted to talk about it more. We train people who want to design and install systems. So we conduct training schools. So at Ohio State, we conduct what we call Overholt Drainage School. It’s been probably one of the longest running drainage schools in the country, more than 60 years now.

So I recently got to lead the drainage schools where it’s been going on for a while, and this is what we do. We are constantly updating our curriculum to reflect this modern thinking of designing systems and at the same time stressing the need for quality construction, quality installation. So Overholt Drainage School is something that we conduct every year. It’s a five-year training program, and we get drainage contractors, farmers who want to do their own drainage, a lot of agency folks, anyone who is interested. Sometimes we get college students who are just farm kids who came to the college and they want to learn more. They come and learn from our drainage schools.

Trey Allis (26:37):
Yeah, and I think we’ll definitely have a link to that within especially the event side of our page on The Water Table. And I’m not sure exactly when this is going to air, but when’s the school, do you have it set here for the coming year?

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (26:48):
So this year we’re going to be in Wooster, Ohio. The school is going to be March 13th through 17th. So the Spring break of Ohio State is when we usually do it.

Trey Allis (26:58):
Those four farm kids have to stick around and learn about drainage instead of going out on Spring break, huh.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (27:04):
Oh, and that’s the interesting thing that I usually get four or five students who don’t go on spring break and they’re there learning drainage, so.

Trey Allis (27:12):
I like them already.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (27:13):
Yes, they’re more hardworking, to be honest. I don’t have a reference point. I have always taught in a College of Ag, but I just feel just based on my interaction, I feel like the students who come of some farm background, they’re always hardworking, they’re serious about learning and-

Trey Allis (27:13):

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (27:30):
So that helps.

Trey Allis (27:31):
Yeah, I guess I would have to echo that too with some of the career fairs and whatnot that we go to as well, seeing some of those same concepts through that too. But mentioning in your work with students, we were talking before that you have taught a little bit in the past and then also like I said, through the drainage school and teach and whatnot. What has been your messaging to some of the younger students that are coming through? Some of the college kids that… Looking back at myself coming through college as always thought about agricultural engineering and there’s only a handful of schools I guess in the country, but let alone in the Midwest. So there’s kind of few and far to pick from and especially even getting more niche into that is within the drainage water management sphere too. So being in your seat and having the influence teaching some of these classes and leading some of these kids, what has been your messaging to them?

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (28:21):
So there’s two things here. When I was teaching classes, I always made it clear to my students. I said, “I’ve been through classes, I know you’re not going to learn every lecture I give you, but here is this one single message that I want you to learn and remember for the rest of your life.” So that was very clear. And then again, even with the students, what we really try to teach, educate them on is the need for an integrated water management approach, a farm scale water management approach. Don’t just look at one field and think about having to drain or irrigate that field. You should be thinking about a system.

So trying to explain to them and teach them how you can take a systems approach and then do the management part for water management part as part of that system. And when they get that message, then that relates to your not just boosting the crop yields, but also maximizing the crop. So that’s on the farm side where a lot of these students, especially ag engineering students, I believe, an ag engineer can do anything in this world, any field. They can go into computer sciences, they can go to NASA, they can do ag, they can do whatever because they’re good learners. Anyway, that’s just a bias because I’m an ag engineer.

Trey Allis (29:48):
Exactly, there we go. I agree.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (29:50):
But as I said, non ag or non-traditional workplaces, they got to be able to apply what they learn. And a lot of times we give them skills rather than the knowledge to do more critical thinking, problem solving. So skill development is part of it. And the other thing I always make sure is to make sure they’re aware of where to find information. It’s okay if you forget about it, but if you know where to go and find the information, then you are good. And then one common source of information is the Land-Grant Institution and the extension system. So we try to give them these, at least introduce them to some of these existing systems.

And then the second part of that is bringing people on board who are already practitioners. So I always invite engineers who are actively designing projects. We bring in people from industry and have them talk to the students rather than us teaching them. And that kind of gives them just at least a window into the future, at least what’s going on in the practice. And that really helps a lot of students to find that interest in what they want to do in future.

Trey Allis (31:13):
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the classes that I appreciated the most is bringing in some outside perspectives on some of that. So been fortunate enough to be able to lend that industry insight into some of those classes and it’s always been appreciated. And like you said, it’s not going to fit everybody for some of the stuff that we’re talking about, but every now and then there’s a few kids that their eyes light up a little bit like, “Ooh, hey, water and drainage and stuff,” so no, it’s just-

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (31:39):
Some of the students that I have taught, now, they’re my colleagues, they’re my collaborators. I work with a student that was just an undergrad, I was a TA for that class. And now he does a lot of the conservation practice implementation in the state of Ohio. So you never know who would end up where and end up working with you.

Trey Allis (32:01):
Exactly. Maybe looking at wrapping this up a little bit, we talked a lot about about different practices and some of that systems approach and some of the things that is going on with the research side and then looking at the future with some of these kids coming up too, that, like you said, you’re teaching, you’re mentoring that are coming up. Where do you see the future of drainage and water management from your seat? And you’ve had a handful of different seats at the college too, where do you see that route going for the industry?

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (32:36):
Oh, for the industry. I think, one thing I can say is our industry is going kind of hand in hand with what we’re doing in the research. A lot of times, our research is informed and driven by what the need is on the ground, whether that need comes from the farmer groups or the industry groups. And just as an example, again, the automated control drainage systems, there is a lot that we need to explore further and develop prescriptions for when it comes to that type of management. So I think, looking at the future of water management, people tend to think, “Well, maybe we’re running out of ground to grain in the Midwest and maybe we will someday, who knows? But we’ll always have retrofit jobs.” But more importantly, I think the future of this whole field is in management of the water, managing that water and not just managing it any way you think, managing, using a smart approach, using a informed approach would be the future. Whether that comes from your sensor technology integration, AI, machine learning, there is all kinds of fancy terms that you can add on top of that future.

But I think managing water has been the key, not just for crop production, boosting crop production, but now we’re getting into a situation where in considering the future climate scenarios, we’re looking at needing to manage water so that you can even sustain the existing crop production, forget about increasing crops. And the other side of that is the environmental impacts and managing for minimizing the environmental impact. So that’s kind of the theme that I’m going with. If you talk to other faculty or other researchers, everybody’s going to come up with their own thing, but I’m hoping, I’m just getting started with my job. So if you ask Vinayak what Vinayak is going to work on for the next 15 years or whatever, I think that would be the theme that I’m thinking, I’m going to work on managing water.

Trey Allis (34:55):
Yeah, I definitely don’t disagree with a lot of that, but like you mentioned, there’s a lot of pieces to play in there and looking down the barrel of it a little bit. It’s like I said, a lot of pieces have to come into play, a lot of things got to work out right, a lot of old tile maps that need to get retrofitted and put into some meaningful data so you smart guys are be able to take a look at that and pull something meaningful from it.

And that just gets, I guess, where my thinking is with all that stuff, all that work ahead of us. Call me a skeptic, I’m a little bit skeptical on having all that fit in perfect. I think it’d be great if it did. But that being said too, I know my dad especially was a skeptic on auto steer right away within all of our machinery and whatnot. And granny, yeah, it’s still good to get out in some of the old catalyst tractors and do some work, but if you’re serious about hammering down and getting something done, you can’t not anymore. And that’s just one small piece of technology with that. So appreciate the time that you gave us here. Do you have any other final thoughts?

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (36:01):
No, I think that’s… We’re here, I can’t not talk about the expo that we are at. I’ve been here maybe since yesterday, but expo started today. But I just want to share with everyone how excited I am to be here. And it’s been really amazing experience. I have seen big machinery out in the field. I have not seen all the big machinery and all the pipe material all in one single hall where you can touch and feel it and watch it. So that’s the value of being here at the expo. And the good thing that the expo did this year was not just have a big exhibit here, but also have some educational component. And I talked at one of the talks, but just having some educational component help, there’s a lot of people here. It’s such a great place to be at. I’m really excited, I’m looking forward to the next two days as well.

Trey Allis (36:55):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s something, I didn’t get to sit in on your talk here earlier today, but I think you’re giving it again tomorrow, so hopefully be able to hit that up and yeah, I’d echo that as well. It’s been really rewarding to see just to have the conversations with a bunch of different people, whether it’s, you educators on the research side, getting to share, I mean your messaging, your work with a lot of the vendors here, like our ourselves with Prinsco or just the contractors, a lot of the audience here. So the more information that we can get and the more times that we can get the movers and shakers within the industry kind of all together and focused on something, a lot of work can get done.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (37:32):
Absolutely, yeah. Well, and again, thank you for having me on this podcast. It’s just a amazing opportunity and maybe I hope I’ll get to do this more often. We can literally talk about one topic at a time.

Trey Allis (37:48):
Yeah, exactly. When you mentioned your talk, I forgot to even bring that up. One of the main reasons that you’re here is to give your speech. So maybe we’ll have to bring you back on again to talk through what is it why tiling works, I think is the name of the talk. So like I said, no, appreciate your time, appreciate and your work that’s going on within the industry and moving the ball forward on this so thanks a lot for coming down, Vinayak.

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar (38:11):
Thank you.

Jamie Duininck (38:16):
Thanks for joining us today on The Water Table. You can find us at watertable.ag, find us on Facebook, you can find us on Twitter, and you can also find the podcast on any of your favorite podcast platforms.