SDSU welcomes new professor to precision agriculture team

South Dakota State University Extension
Ali M. Nafchi

Brookings, S.D. - The South Dakota State University Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science, along with SDSU Extension, has named Dr. Ali M. Nafchi to serve as an assistant professor and extension specialist in precision agriculture.

Nafchi, who most recently served as a precision agriculture specialist for Cornell University Cooperative Extension, brings an extensive background in agriculture engineering and community outreach to his new role.

"Dr. Nafchi's expertise enhances SDSU's ability to deliver credible, science-based crop production information to South Dakota's agricultural community," says David Wright, SDSU Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science Department head and professor. "His knowledge of precision agriculture tools and engineering are coupled with SDSU's long-term expertise in production agriculture. Nafchi represents the next generation extension specialist, one equipped with highly specialized skills currently not found in industry."  

Growing up on a family farm, Nafchi was actively involved in all aspects of farm management. He earned his Ph.D. in agricultural engineering (farm, power and machinery) from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India. Following his education, Nafchi held postdoctoral research and extension positions at the University of Florida and Clemson University and was in charge of several precision agriculture multidisciplinary projects, including a large NASA-funded project. 

His research program at SDSU will focus on precision agricultural technologies, including research, development and extension (adoption). Nafchi aims to assist South Dakota agricultural producers in adopting new technologies and research while developing innovative solutions for today's agricultural problems such as enhancing soil health, environmental quality, agricultural sustainability and farm profits. 

"As a precision agriculture specialist with SDSU, my career is not just a job; it is my passion and the way I grew up," Nafchi says. "This passion rooted in my childhood goes deeply into the farm and helps me to better understand the farmers."

Nafchi says his ultimate goal is to get closer to a "single unit (plant or animal) management" in agricultural production.