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ARS announces scientist of the year

Laboratory Director Donald L. Suarez of Riverside, Calif., has been named “Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of 2009” by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for his scientific leadership and discoveries in effective water resource management. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Suarez heads the U.S. Salinity Laboratory in Riverside. He and other ARS researchers and support staff were honored at the agency's awards ceremony in Beltsville, Md.

“Water scarcity will be a defining issue in 21st century agriculture – and in society in general,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS administrator. “Dr. Suarez’s outstanding research on helping farmers efficiently utilize scarce water resources benefits not only the farmers themselves, but also consumers, communities and businesses. The research under way at our Riverside lab under Dr. Suarez’s leadership will help sustain agricultural production in arid regions of the West and inform our approach to water management across the United States and abroad.”

Suarez’s research on water resources has yielded key information about how the strawberry, grape and turf industries can reuse water for irrigation while maintaining favorable soil chemical and physical properties for sustained production. His work has greatly advanced the understanding of the relationship between water chemistry and soil hydraulic properties. In addition, he has assessed how different irrigation regimes can enhance soil productivity and helped develop computer models that can be used by water districts and irrigation consultants to make informed decisions about salinity management.

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