2017 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research 

Sotirios Archontoulis, Ph.D.
Iowa State University 

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research awarded eight grants to the 2017 New Innovators in Food and Agriculture Research recipients. These awardees will receive a total of $4.8 million over five years. The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award is designed to provide the early investment needed to launch new faculty members into successful scientific careers in food and agriculture. Learn more about the FFAR New Innovators.

Research Project: Improving Simulations of Water Dynamics and Crop Yield in the Corn Belt

Sotirios Archontoulis root sampling demo

Sotirios Archontoulis (far left), Ph.D., gives a root sampling demonstration to farmers interested in water use efficiency.

Rainfed crop production systems in the Corn Belt region rely on water supply from precipitation and shallow groundwater reserves. The contribution of groundwater, a substantial source of water that can decrease the need for irrigation in dry years, and enhance nitrogen and yield loss in wet years, is poorly understood and thus not accounted in the majority of computer models used for decision support and food security assessments.

Dr. Archontoulis' project will enhance understanding of groundwater impacts on soil-crop-atmospheric processes, improve simulation models, and thus our capacity to predict impacts and design mitigation strategies that will lead to improved water quality, soil health, and productivity, especially in years with extreme weather (drought, flooding), when environmental and economic costs are highest. Dr. Archontoulis will use a systems approach to connect scientific advances in hydrology, crop modeling, and agronomy with experimental data. Outcomes of this work will reach stakeholders via an easy-to-use web-tool that will provide real-time forecasts. The benefits of this research for producers may reach billions of dollars in increased crop productivity and will improve assessments of food security and environmental issues.

About Sotirios Archontoulis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Iowa State University

Sotirios Archontoulis is an assistant professor of integrated cropping systems at Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy. He completed his Ph.D. and MS in crop science and crop modeling at Wageningen University, the Netherlands and his postdoc research in cropping systems modeling at Iowa State University. Archontoulis’s research combines field-lab experimentation with simulation process-based models with the goal to improve production and environmental performance of various cropping systems with particular emphasis on corn and soybean crops growing in the US Midwest. His current research focus on identifying land use and management practices that can increase the efficiency of the system by means of increasing crop yields and simultaneously decreasing inputs or losses such as water and nitrogen from the system. He is interested in deeper understanding the complex Genotype x Management x Environment interactions, adding mechanisms into models to better simulate soil-plant-atmosphere processes, and develop web-tools to disseminate research results in real-time to stakeholders.

Learn More: http://faculty.agron.iastate.edu/sarchont/