Keynote Speakers

R. Wayne Skaggs, North Carolina State University

Wayne Skaggs photo

ASABE International Drainage Symposia: 50 Years of Documenting Progress in Managing Poorly Drained Agricultural Lands 

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Bringing together drainage experts from around the world to share information on the challenges and methods of drainage is critical for advancing the management of poorly drained lands. The 2016 International Drainage Symposium builds on a distinguished 50-year tradition of state-of-the-art meetings that provide a forum for exchanging technical information on research methods, results, and advances in drainage equipment and technology. Dr. Skaggs will review highlights of progress in drainage and related agricultural water management research and application reported during the 10 Drainage Symposia held since 1965.

Dr. R. Wayne Skaggs is William Neal Reynolds Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University. He has conducted research on drainage and related agricultural water management for the past 46 years and was chair of the 3rd National Drainage Symposium in 1976. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Skaggs is a Fellow and past President of ASABE. He is known throughout the world for his development of the water management model DRAINMOD and has made other extraordinary contributions to the advancement of drainage as a teacher, mentor, researcher, and national leader.

Henk Ritzema, Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands

Henk Ritzema photo

Drain for Gain: A Rightful Role for Drainage in Meeting Future Challenges in Agricultural Water Management

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To successfully and sustainably move forward and meet the agricultural challenges of the future, drainage has to be given its appropriate role in agricultural water management. Dr. Ritzema will review seven reasons why drainage is so important and needed, seven aspects of drainage that contribute to it so often getting far less attention than irrigation, and seven challenges to making drainage work. He will propose a three-step approach to reverse the negative trends in drainage development and management, and put drainage in its proper place for facing current and future challenges.

Dr. Henk Ritzema is a leader in international drainage programs, based in the Water Resources Management Group at Wageningen University. He has 33 years of experience in water management and hydrology for food and ecosystems in numerous Third-World countries. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement (ILRI) Publication 16 “Drainage Principles and Applications,” and co-author of ILRI Publication 60 “Subsurface Drainage Practices.” He leads programs that have trained thousands of drainage engineers and scientists from around the world.

Ingrid Wesström, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

Ingrid Wesstrom photo

Water Management for Food Production Under Changing Climate Conditions

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Too much or too little water has been, and still is, one of the major constraints in crop production. This constraint will become even more pronounced with climate changes resulting in increased risks for floods and droughts. Worldwide, installations of land drainage systems have increased land available for agricultural production, but old systems need to be updated to meet the demand of today’s climate conditions and production methods. For example, ditches today often also conduct storm water, which generally has a different flow regime compared to runoff from farmland. Dr. Wesstrom will discuss how we can further develop agricultural water management options that can increase and sustain crop production in an environmentally friendly way.

Dr. Ingrid Wesstrom, Associate professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, conducts research on agricultural water management at different spatial and temporal scales in different climate zones. Her current research involves adapting farming practices for optimizing the use of land and water resources while minimizing negative environmental side effects.

Bruce Wilson, University of Minnesota

Bruce Wilson photo

History of Drainage in the Northern Midwestern U.S.


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Drainage practices have been and remain an important, and often contentious, agricultural management issue. A historical perspective provides valuable insight into our drainage and land use practices. Until 1920, drainage was overwhelmingly viewed in Minnesota as a public good. By the early 1930s, the public started to become more wary of the impact of drainage practices. Today, the vast majority of research related to drainage is tied to ameliorating its environmental impacts. Dr. Wilson will discuss the impact of drainage within the framework of historical and recent changes in land use and farming practices that together have transformed the landscape, stream flow, and water quality of the Midwest.

Dr. Bruce Wilson is a Professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He has extensive modeling and experimental background in erosion, drainage, and hydrologic/water quality. He is the recipient of several distinguished teaching awards and is a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.