Meet a Faculty Member: Dr. Amor Ines

posted on October 12, 2016 9:37am

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Dr. Amor Ines joined Michigan State University’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences in 2015 as an assistant professor, continuing his work to help farmers in developing countries manage climate-related risks.

Dr. Ines and his team of researchers develop models for decision support in agriculture and water management. He works to understand the agricultural process and its relation to climate.

After researching at Columbia University, Dr. Ines continued his work at MSU.

“I am trying to link climate information to decisions at different scales, from regional, policy to farmer,” Dr. Ines said.

El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is possibly the source of most climate variability, especially in the tropics, Dr. Ines said. The impacts of El Nino vary season to season, and Ines and his team work to predict the climate impacts for each season to help farmers and policy makers.

Rainfed agriculture, typically in developing countries, is more impacted by the inconsistency of climate.

“In irrigated culture, you have a buffer because of the availability of water from the irrigation system,” Dr. Ines said. “But for rainfed irrigation, it depends on the timing and the amount of rainfall during the growing season.”

Rainfed agriculture accounts for the majority of agricultural activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the past 10 years, Dr. Ines’ work has provided tools to evaluate and prepare resources for the coming growing season.  

Dr. Ines develops downscaling techniques, especially for rainfall and temperature and uses simulation models, agro-hydrological models and crop models.

Several tools are used to develop these models. One of the tools used is the Climate-Agriculture-Modeling and Decision Tool (CAMDT).

“This desktop tool integrates two techniques to downscale probabilistic seasonal climate forecasts and link it with a crop simulation model,” Dr. Ines said.

Another tool used in collaboration with IRI-Columbia University, United States Agency for International Development and University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation Incorporated, is a regional implementation of a similar approach was developed and is known as maprooms. In collaboration with Chubu University in Japan, other online tools for modeling the impact of climate, soils, management practices on crops were or are being developed.

“We are working on validation of the models,” Dr. Ines said. “Since they depend on climate forecasts, the skills of these tools depend largely upon the [accuracy] of the climate forecasts.”

Currently, CAMDT and the maprooms are being piloted in the Bicol region in the Philippines where farmers, academics, government agencies, and international partners will come together to address the challenges associated to a changing and variable climate.

“These tools were developed as part of development projects in developing countries as part of enhancing technical skills and capacity building of local partners,” Dr. Ines said.

Dr. Ines enjoys teaching his students at MSU about this current and past research.

“What I researched for 10 years, I can teach to my students,” Dr. Ines said.

At MSU, Dr. Ines plans to grow his graduate research program, Applied Agriculture Systems Model (AASM) with more student researchers.