NWC, IANR partner to lead Water and Integrated Cropping Systems (WICS) Hub

Water and Integrated Cropping Systems
The Water and Integrated Cropping Systems Hub is bringing together water experts from across the university.
February 1, 2021

Lincoln, Neb. —It started on the back of the proverbial envelope.

That is where Dr. Ron Yoder, senior associate vice chancellor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), began to sketch two overlapping circles. A few years ago, Yoder was tasked with bringing together the university’s dispersed water community – starting within IANR.

“I spent a lot of time doodling with circles, arrows and clusters,” he recalled. “Ultimately, I realized the Venn diagram which has crops in one circle and water in another and where they intersect – that’s a pretty large intersection.”

One of the recurring themes during his exploration was water quality.

“You can’t really talk about addressing water quality over a large geographic part of Nebraska without talking about crops.”

Fast forward to fall 2020. That’s when the etched circles began to be filled in. On October 27, over one hundred and twenty Nebraska faculty, staff, administrators, and extension educators joined the inaugural meeting of the Water and Integrated Cropping Systems (WICS) team. Organized by Yoder and newly formed lead team, including Crystal Powers, NWC’s research and extension communications specialist, the virtual meet-up was a springboard for future collaborations.

“Our goals for the meeting tracked our initial goals for the team: celebrate the depth of expertise we have and gain feedback on how we can strengthen communication, connections, and collaboration, with the overall intent of enhancing our reach and impacts across Nebraska,” said Powers.

Following the meeting, Powers developed several key ingredients to enable faculty collaborators to come together, including:

  • Microsoft Teams page for the WICS Hub to facilitate communication between members
  • Team directory that includes edit access for members to update their information
  • Team map to visualize members and their connections. The clickable map includes three preset views which can be changed according to topics, departments and teams. A publicly available website with the map is forthcoming.
  • Inventory of existing small teams (i.e., projects).

In addition to Powers, Yoder brought together a leadership team steered by Chittaranjan Ray, NWC director; Water Program Leader Daran Rudnick, assistant professor, department of biological systems engineering, UNL; Cropping Program Leader Daren Redfearn, associate professor, department of agronomy and horticulture, UNL; and Economics Program Leader John Westra, associate research and extension director, Nebraska Extension.

As the team continues to come together, these resources will be shared with partners across the state. If you would like to learn more or be added to the team, contact Crystal Powers, cpowers@nebraska.edu