University of Florida
Michael Dukes

« Back to Faculty Profiles

Michael D. Dukes, P.E.

E-mail | Web Site
205 Frazier Rogers Hall
P.O. Box 110570
Gainesville, FL 32611-0570
(352) 392-1864 ext.205 fax: (352) 392-4092

Michael Dukes is an irrigation specialist focusing on efficient use of water in irrigated systems. What does that mean? High quality water such as potable water in municipal systems such as at homes and businesses or water from the Floridan aquifer in the case of agriculture is often used for irrigation. According to the U. S. Geological Service, Floridians used about 6.4 billion gallons of water a day in 2012. Thirty nine percent is used for agricultural irrigation and 36% for public supply; however, it is projected that public use will exceed agricultural use in the near future. Due to the need for adequate water to produce food and satisfy domestic uses including landscape irrigation, it is important to maximize the efficient use of water. Dukes and his team are conducting research on high tech irrigation controllers that apply water based on measurements from landscapes. These so called “smart irrigation controllers” are saving millions of gallons of water each year in Florida and are being adopted across the U.S. Dukes is often consulted by utilities, decision makers, and groups such as the U.S. EPA WaterSense program for technical knowledge on this subject. Similarly, Dukes and his team are using real-time soil moisture sensor readings to linear move variable rate irrigation on corn and peanut.

In addition to the amount of water consumed, water quality is also critical especially in Florida with abundant and sensitive natural resource ecosystems. It is estimated that Florida has a higher concentration of springs than anywhere in the world ( The springs are closely connected with the Floridan aquifer that is a primary source of water supply. Though much work has occurred to protect and resatore springs, they are still threatened by non-point source pollution. Agricultural chemicals and lawn chemicals making their way to natural water bodies are known as “non-point source” pollution. Best management practices (BMPs) are techniques and tools used by agriculture and landscape professionals that minimize or prevent the risk of non-point source pollution damaging the environment. For example, applying fertilizer at the right time and in the right amount is a simple yet effective way to minimize non-point source pollution. Dukes and his team are conducting agricultural research on row crops the optimizes the timing and amount of nitrogen fertilizer to minimize nitrogen loss. They are monitoring the water quality to determine the most efficient practices and then communicating those practices to the agricultural industry.

Dukes’ team regularly publishes in top journals in the field ( as well as a variety of industry trade outlets. They also publish peer-reviewed extension publications in the UF-IFAS Electronic Document Information System ( They have shown that properly implemented smart controllers can reduce over-irrigation of real-world landscapes by nearly 50%.

Dukes is also the Director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology ( He leads a multidisciplinary group of faculty whose mission is to conduct interdisciplinary research and provide science-based education on urban landscape practices to protect and conserve Florida's natural resources.


Dr. Dukes specializes in irrigation system design, efficiency and analysis; plant water use/evapotranspiration and water quality impacts of irrigated systems.

Research and Extension

  • Water conservation potential of smart irrigation controllers in Orange County, FL
  • Assessment of irrigation conservation program effectiveness in Orange County, FL
  • Development of irrigation conservation programs in Southwest Florida
  • Influence of irrigation and fertility Best Management Practices on nitrogen leaching on sandy soils
  • Education on efficient irrigation and water conservation potential of smart irrigation controllers


  • Ph.D North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
  • M.C.E. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware
  • B.A.S. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware

Professional Experience

  • 2012-Present
    Interim Chair, Environmental Horticulture
  • 2011-Present
    Professor, UF Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department.

    Director for the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.
  • 2006-2011
    Associate Professor, UF Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department
  • 2000-2006
    Assistant Professor, UF Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department
  • 1998-2000 
    Graduate Research Assistant, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, North Carolina State University
  • 1998
    Graduate Teaching Instructor, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, North Carolina State University

Awards and Honors

  • Environmental and Water Institute of American Society of Civil Engineers Fellow (ASCE-EWRI) Fellow 2017
  • ASABE Fellow 2017
  • John Deere Gold Medal Award 2016
  • UF Water Institute Faculty Fellow 2015
  • Irrigation Association Excellence in Education Irrigation Foundation Award 2014
  • EPAF Wells Fargo Extension Professional and Enhancement Award  2013
  • ASABE Young Extension Worker 2011
  • UF Research Foundation Professorship 2010
  • ASABE Blue Ribbon Award 2010
  • ASABE Florida Section Young Engineer 2009
  • Outstanding Service Award, ASABE Florida Section, 2007
  • ASABE Outstanding Reviewer Award 2007
  • Young Researcher Award 2005,ASABE Florida Section
  • Member, Alpha Epsilon Honor Society
  • Member, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • Member, Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Society

Other Professional Activities

  • Irrigation Association Board of Directors
  • American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers
  • National Society of Professional Engineers
  • American Society of Civil Engineers, Environmental Water Resources Institute