Agrometeorology Student Receives Best Poster Award at WaterNet Symposium

Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa with his award.Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa with his award.

PhD candidate in the Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa has received the Best Young Water Scientist Award for his poster presentation at the WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium in Botswana.

The theme of the Symposium was “Integrated Water Resources Management: Water Security, Sustainability and Development in Eastern and Southern Africa”.

Mbangiwa previously received a best poster award for his masters research as well as a best oral presentation award at a College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Research Day.

His PhD research, supervised by Professor Michael Savage, involves energy flux measurements and crop modelling in a maize-soybean cropping system at Baynesfield Estate near Richmond.

In his research, Mbangiwa made use of various methods of estimating evapotranspiration and subsequently determining various water accounting parameters such as water productivity.

Mbangiwa completed his undergraduate BSc in Applied Environmental Sciences at UKZN in 2004, returning in 2006 to take up a post as an Agrometeorology Instrumentation Technician. This involved training under Savage.

‘Working closely with Professor Savage had a great influence in my career choice and has been a source of inspiration until today,’ said Mbangiwa.

‘I have always been a hands-on person and love field work and soon my interest in instrumentation and soil-plant-atmosphere processes led me down the academic path I am on now.’

Mbangiwa completed his Honours part-time and then completed his MSc in Agrometeoroloy cum laude in 2012, going on to take up a lecturer position in the University of Botswana’s Department of Physics in the Physics-With-Meteorology-Programme. Now back at UKZN, Mbangiwa plans to continue with research after completing his PhD.

 ‘Agrometeorology is not a common subject and skills associated with setting up automatic weather stations and similar instrumentation are rare in Africa,’ said Mbangiwa. ‘Most postgraduates doing similar research were drawn to my poster to possibly get answers to some of the problems they have with their research and share ideas. Instrumentation used in this research is expensive and many people were surprised as to how a relatively simple crop model such as AquaCrop can perform reasonably well.’

 The Symposium was opened by the Botswana Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Mr Prince Maele.

Christine Cuénod