New BAE faculty wins Sunkist Young Designer Award

By Staff Contributor

Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist Alireza Pourreza was selected to receive the Sunkist Young Designer Award that will be presented during the ASABE Annual meeting in Detroit in July.

Established in 1972, this award recognizes and honors members under 40 years of age (on July 1 of the year in which the award is presented), for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the profession and to stimulate professional achievement.

Sponsored by Sunkist Growers, Inc., the Sunkist Young Designer Award specifically honors the development of a technical plan that influences agricultural engineering progress, as evidenced by use in the field.

Dr. Pourreza's contributions have included development of the polarized imaging technique: a method to detect accumulation of starch in citrus leaf as an early indication of citrus greening disease or Huanglongbing (HLB); and development of Virtual Orchard concept: a 3-dimentional reconstruction of orchard using aerial imagery and photogrammetry technique that can be used to extract precise tree geometric information such as canopy area, height, and volume.

Dr. Pourreza explains whythese accomplishments are important and valuable to agricultural engineering and to society in general:

"(1) The polarized imaging technique was primarily used for early Citrus Greening detection, that is a major disease of citrus with no known cure. Early detection of Citrus Greening is important because growers can prevent further spread of the disease before the entire orchard get infected. The polarized imaging technique can also be used in other applications that involve the detection of starch or sugar. (2) Knowledge about tree geometry such as individual canopy cover, volume, height, and density is important for growers to understand variability within their orchard and make timely decisions about irrigation, nutrient, pest and disease etc. Virtual Orchard is an affordable technology that makes this information accessible for growers. Information extracted from the Virtual Orchard can be used to apply variable rate inputs in a site-specific manner according to the prescription maps that identify the application rate at different locations of an orchard."

Congratulations to Dr. Pourreza!