In Memoriam: Dr. Jordi Marsal

ISHS Secretariat
In Memoriam: Dr. Jordi Marsal (1965–2017)

In Memoriam: Dr. Jordi Marsal (1965–2017)
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Dr. Jordi Marsal, on March 12, 2017, after a 10 month struggle with cancer. Jordi was Head of the Efficient Use of Water Program at IRTA, the Research/Technology/Agriculture/Food Institute of the Government of Catalonia in Spain. He was dedicated to conducting research and educating farmers and policy makers on ways to improve irrigation efficiency and management of perennial horticultural crops in the Mediterranean climate of north-western Spain. He, along with his colleagues conducted some the most data-intense, field experiments ever reported on regulated deficit irrigation of multiple crops including, peach, pear, grape, apple, almond and cherry. He was not satisfied with just determining the water use of crops and critical periods for water stress but his focus was on developing a thorough understanding of the environmental and physiological drivers of plant water use. In the latter years of his career he focused on developing and improving environmentally-based models for predicting crop water during the growing season. Dr. Marsal was a meticulous and extremely thoughtful researcher who was always focused on the quality of the data his team collected as well as the thoroughness with which the data were analyzed. He, along with the team of researchers that he was associated with, have provided the foundation for greatly improved irrigation efficiency of horticultural crops in general, and specifically for the Catalonian region, which is a major center for fruit crop production in southern Europe.

Dr. Marsal was active in several scientific organizations, particularly ISHS. He was a leader in the ISHS Irrigation of Horticultural Crops Working Group, convened and chaired its latest symposium held in Lleida, Spain in 2015, and was Chair of the ISHS Water Relations Workgroup at the time of his death. He was also co-organizer of the 7th International ISHS Peach Symposium that was held in Lleida in 2009. He served on the editorial review boards for a number of scientific journals and was respected and sought after for his scientific expertise regarding horticultural crop water use.

Jordi was born in Tarragona, Spain on March 21, 1965. He was a good young tennis player but found that he had greater interests in nature than in sport at a young age. He studied agricultural engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona and the University of Lleida. He received a PhD in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Lleida in 1997. After receiving his doctoral degree he served as the research supervisor for several PhD students at the University of Lleida. He enjoyed nature and really felt alive walking in the mountains, observing natural landscapes and studying plants and birds. After meeting his future wife, Silvia, he gained a fondness for fine French wine and cheeses. He was a bit of a "renaissance man" and enjoyed classical music, studied the writings of Greek philosophers and liked to tune into "A Prairie Home Companion: News from Lake Wobegon" on US National Public Radio when he had the opportunity. Jordi approached science and life with an intensity that naturally commanded respect but at the same time had a self-deprecating humor that made him a friend of all who really knew him. IRTA and Catalonia have lost an irreplaceable leader in their Efficient Use of Water Program, the horticultural community has lost a valued scientific colleague and others of us have lost a true friend.

Ted DeJong, UC Davis, USA
Joan Girona, IRTA, Catalonia, Spain
Merce Mata, IRTA, Catalonia, Spain
Boris Basile, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy

 

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Jordi Marsal
water relations
irrigation
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General Interest