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California Agricultural Technology Institute

Zoldoske honored by Irrigation Association

Fresno State's Center for Irrigation Technology director leads in enhancing applied water and technology research

David F. Zoldoske, director of Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT), has been named Person of the year for 2013 by the Irrigation Association (IA).

Zoldoske was honored at the organization’s Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Austin, Texas in November. He is the fourth person from Fresno State to receive the award honoring a person outside of the commercial irrigation industry who has made outstanding contributions toward the acceptance of sound irrigation practices or policies.

As CIT director, Zoldoske works with the public and private sectors addressing a wide range of challenges involving water use including efficiency, water quality, economic development, regional planning and policy. Established at Fresno State in 1980, CIT is now internationally recognized as an independent testing laboratory, applied research facility and educational resource for water and irrigation technology.

David F. Zoldoske

Zoldoske has led or overseen a variety of irrigation-related applied research studies over the years, ranging from the development of subsurface irrigation systems, to soil salinity mapping, and most recently to determine more efficient irrigation methods for hybrid “energy beets” that will be converted to biofuel.

A recent example of the work CIT does in research and testing is the EPA WaterSense program, the IA honoree noted. The program seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.

“CIT was instrumental in developing protocols for both the climate-based and soil sensor-based irrigation controllers used in residential homes,” Zoldoske said. “The EPA adopted those protocols to form the basis for testing products for the WaterSense label.” 

Zoldoske joins a long list of distinguished previous winners from across the country and from other major agricultural universities. According to Dr. Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, “the award not only honors Dr. Zoldoske, but confirms the longstanding leadership and commitment by Fresno State faculty and staff in irrigation technology and policy and improving water use efficiency in irrigation.”

Fresno State has been involved in irrigation testing and research for more than 60 years and Zoldoske has been involved for more than half of that time. He started his irrigation career as a graduate student research assistant before beginning work as a full time research technician in 1983. He was named CIT director in 1994.

Zoldoske also serves as vice-chair of the California Department of Water Resources Strategic Planning Caucus for New Water Technology, an effort that will become part of the state’s 2013 Water Plan Update.

He is a past president of the Irrigation Association (2004-05); a member of the “Smart” Water Application Technologies Executive Committee; an honorary member of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants; a Fellow with the California Council for Science and Technology; and served as president of the California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy.

Internationally, Zoldoske served as the project leader in establishing the Zimbabwe Irrigation Technology Centre and has represented the United States in the development of international standards.

Based in Virginia, the Irrigation Association is the leading membership organization for irrigation equipment and system manufacturers, dealers, distributors, designers, consultants, contractors and end users. Originally founded in 1949, it includes more than 2,000 corporate and individual members and is dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation.

The Person of the Year Award was established in 1952. Winston Strong, professor of Plant Science and Mechanized Agriculture was recognized in 1974 for pioneering work in sprinkler testing. Former CIT directors Kenneth Solomon and Edward Norum were honored in 1990 and 2004 respectively.