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Joe Russo Modernizes Agricultural Water Management With Modeling
Photograph by Chris Crisman
Photograph by Chris Crisman

President, ZedX
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Russo, 61, creates programs that help farmers better manage their water use.

"GPS-enabled yield monitors allow us to get site-specific field information for 1- to 5-meter areas. But when it comes to weather forecasting, the most specific we can get is about 1 square kilometer, where there can be a lot of variations in canopy heat and moisture. So there's a gap between weather data and field data, and that's what we're trying to bridge by combining modeling with physical observation. We use precipitation, effective precipitation — how much water breaks through the canopy and reaches the soil — and evaporation levels of the plant and soil to figure out how much water is actually present. Water is precious. Knowing exactly when to distribute it in an exact amount means huge savings."

A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.