Derek Heeren

Associate Professor and Irrigation Engineer
Water for Food Global Institute Faculty Fellow

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Biosystems Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 2012
  • M.S., Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, 2008
  • B.S., Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, 2004
  • Licensed Professional Engineer, State of Oklahoma


  • Ph.D., P.E.

Current Project on AI for Irrigation:

Learn more here.

Textbook: Irrigation Systems Management

More information:


  • 58% Research
  • 40% Teaching
  • 2% Service

Curriculum Vitae (CV):

Heeren CV July 2023.pdf

Areas of Research and Professional Interest

Research Interests:
  • Irrigation engineering and management
  • Sprinkler and variable rate irrigation systems
  • Irrigation management based on remote sensing
  • Nitrate leaching to groundwater
  • International irrigation development
Teaching Interests:
  • Agricultural systems technology (new major!)
  • Irrigation systems management
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Natural resources and irrigation engineering

Courses Taught

About Derek Heeren

The objective of Dr. Heeren's teaching program is to prepare students to be wise managers of irrigation, water resources, and agricultural systems. He advises undergraduate and graduate students and teaches courses in agricultural systems technology and agricultural engineering. Students working with Derek get hands-on experience with irrigation technology while working with industry partners. Derek published a textbook on Irrigation Systems Management, available at He also has various leadership roles in ASABE and is the Irrigation and Agricultural Water Management (IAWM) Education Coordinator for the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI). For information on Derek's research, visit his research website at Before starting graduate school, Derek spent two years working at a civil engineering firm in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. He grew up on a farm in southeastern South Dakota and developed an interest in conserving natural resources while participating in FFA land judging and natural resources competitions. He is married to Amber and has four children (ages 13 to 20).

Honors and Awards

  • Heermann Sprinkler Irrigation Award. 2023. Amercian Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
  • Omtvedt Innovation Award for Teaching. 2023. UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • A. W. Farrall Young Educator Award. 2018. Amercian Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award. 2017. Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University.
  • ASABE Superior Paper Award. 2016. For the refereed journal article: Heeren, D. M., G. A. Fox, and D. E. Storm. Heterogeneity of infiltration rates in alluvial floodplains as measured with a berm infiltration technique.

Selected Publications

Selected Journal Articles:

  • Bhatti, S., Heeren, D. M., O'Shaughnessy, S. A., Neale, C. M. U., LaRue, J. L., Melvin, S. R., Wilkening, E. J., & Bai, G. 2023. Toward automated irrigation management with integrated crop water stress index and spatial soil water balance. Precision Agriculture. 
  • Kashyap, S. P., Heeren, D. M., Maguire, M. S., Woldt, W. E., Irmak, S., Bhatti, S., Singh, J., Shi, Y., & Neale, C. M. U. 2023. Diurnal soybean water stress computed using statistical-based thermal indices with high-frequency unmanned aircraft flights. Journal of Natural Resources and Agricultural Ecosystems 1(1): 33-48.
  • Chandra, A., Heeren, D. M., Odhiambo, L., & Brozovic, N. 2023. Water-energy-food linkages in shared smallholder irrigation schemes. Agricultural Water Management 289.
  • Bhatti, S., Heeren, D. M., Evett, S. R., O’Shaughnessy, S. A., Neale, C. M. U., Rudnick, D. R., Franz, T. E., & Ge, Y. 2022. Crop response to thermal stress without yield loss in irrigated maize and soybean in Nebraska. Agricultural Water Management 274.
  • Heeren, D. M., Guertault, L., & Mankin, K. R. 2021. Preferential flow in riparian buffers: Current research and future needs. Perspective article. Transactions of the ASABE 64(6): 1907-1911.
  • Singh, J., D. M. Heeren, D. R. Rudnick, W. E. Woldt, G. Bai, Y. Ge, and J. D. Luck. 2020. Soil structure and texture effects on the precision of soil water content measurements with a capacitance-based electromagnetic sensor. Transactions of the ASABE 63(1): 141-152.
  • Evett, S. R., P. D. Colaizzi, F. R. Lamm, S. A. O’Shaughnessy, D. M. Heeren, T. J. Trout, W. L. Kranz, and X. Lin. 2020. Past, present and future of irrigation on the U.S. Great Plains. Transactions of the ASABE 63(3): 703-729.
  • Barker, J. B., Heeren, D. M., Neale, C. M. U., & Rudnick, D. R. 2018. Evaluation of variable rate irrigation using a remote-sensing-based model. Agricultural Water Management 203: 63-74.