March 3, 2023
Department of Agronomy hires new assistant professor in precision agriculture
The Department of Agronomy recently welcomed a new faculty member. Gaurav Jha was hired as an assistant professor in precision agriculture. He will be teaching Site-Specific Agriculture, AGRON 655, and Introduction to Precision Agriculture Software, AGRON 202. Jha also envisions developing a graduate course in the applications of precision agriculture tools and technologies for optimizing farm operations.
His research program at K-State will be focused on maximizing agricultural production in different spatiotemporal scales. Jha says he will continue to partner with economists, social scientists, agricultural engineers and computer scientists to integrate socioeconomic models, artificial intelligence and machine learning models to establish a holistic and globally renowned precision agriculture program at K-State.
“We are lucky to attract Jha. He brings the latest know-how in precision agriculture that will create new opportunities for K-State in furthering the career of our graduates," said Raj Khosla, department head of agronomy. "We are looking forward to growing our research enterprise in the area of digital agriculture. Jha is among the best talent in our nation, and I am excited that he has chosen our department to further his career aspirations."
Born and raised in eastern India, Jha grew up in a farming community. He enjoys traveling and learning about cultural diversity across the world. Jha says that growing up in the farming community in India and outreach efforts in the Indigenous communities of the Navajo Nation in the southwestern United States while earning his doctorate have helped him in effectively communicating and translating his research.
Jha received his master's degree from the Department of Soil Science at Punjab Agricultural University. His research was focused on evaluating the impact of salinity on agricultural crops in semi-arid systems and identifying precision irrigation benefits on crop biophysical parameters and soil properties using brackish water. Jha also has a doctorate in plant and environmental sciences from New Mexico State University. His research there was based on long-term monitoring of elements and contaminants of concern after the Gold King Mine spill using proximal sensing and geospatial techniques.
Before coming to K-State, Jha worked as an assistant research professor in precision agriculture at Montana State University. His research and extension programs were focused on decision support systems for input management for agricultural production in Montana. Earlier in his career, he was a postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis. He continues to work with UC Davis on projects as a collaborative investigator in the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant. The grant is funded from 2021-2026 for underserved Punjabi-American growers in the Central Valley to establish climate-smart irrigation for drought, soil fertility and structural resilience in almond systems using deep-root irrigation and hybrid perennial grass cover crops. He also worked as an agronomist at Glorieta Geosciences in Santa Fe, New Mexico.