President | General Community of Irrigators of the Canals of Urgell
Years working in irrigation: 40
Years as manager: 15
Number of employees: 61
Size of service area in acres: 185,330
Amount of water diverted for irrigation per year in acre-feet: 486,430
Main crops irrigated: Alfalfa, maize, tree fruit (primarily apples and pears), winter cereals (wheat and barley)
Predominant irrigation methods: Flood (88%), spray (6%), drip (6%)
Irrigation Leader: What is the top issue facing your irrigation district today?
Amadeu Ros Farré: Ours is a traditional irrigation system that has been in operation for 160 years and is unpressurized, posing challenges for the on-farm implementation of modern irrigation technologies. As a consequence, the principal irrigation method is flood irrigation, which is inefficient and difficult to operate. For all these reasons, irrigation modernization is our principal objective.
Irrigation Leader: What future issues are you preparing for?
Amadeu Ros Farré: Our principal challenge is modernizing our irrigation system and transforming the existing hydraulic networks into a pressurized system, primarily through natural pressure, but also using pumps that are powered by our own photovoltaic solar systems. We aim to revolutionize water use, but also to revolutionize the economy, turning the Lleida region into a major food supplier for Catalonia. In a context of population increase and water scarcity, more-efficient irrigation will allow for an increased variety of crops and will make them more profitable.
Irrigation Leader: What are your top issues regarding personnel?
Amadeu Ros Farré: Since taking up the role of president, I and my board of directors have reviewed the working situation of each of our workers. The business has invested resources in safety training as well as professional training. We treat our employees with respect so that they feel valued, identify with the values of the business, and can develop their careers in our organization for the long term.
Irrigation Leader: What training do you currently provide your employees?
Amadeu Ros Farré: We devote resources to training intended to prevent on-the-job risks and accidents, both for office personnel and for field personnel; to language training (primarily in English); and to different skills, including emotional intelligence and information technology.
Irrigation Leader: How much do you spend on training each year?
Amadeu Ros Farré: Aproximately 15,000 euros ($16,300).
Irrigation Leader: What kind of safety programs do you have in place?
Amadeu Ros Farré: Each year, our organization contracts with a risk-prevention service that carries out a theoretical and practical training for all employees that covers work safety and health. In addition, we have a safety and health committee made up of workers and management that meets periodically. The committee members present on the different aspects of safety and health that need to be improved and agree on measures to minimize accidents and illnesses on the job.
Irrigation Leader: What is the most important thing you have learned as a manager?
Amadeu Ros Farré: That you need to gain the confidence of your entire management team and of the staff so that everything works. You need to value the work of the entire team—the general manager; your technical, legal, and administrative staff; and your field staff—and above all, you need to value the human side of each worker.
Irrigation Leader: What are the top skills needed to be a successful manager?
Amadeu Ros Farré: It is of fundamental importance that everyone within the management team has a role, and to ensure that, it is important to delegate work so that everyone can make use of their skills for the benefit of the business. It is also important to dedicate 15 percent of your time to maintain group cohesion.
Irrigation Leader: What is the best way to work with a board of directors?
Amadeu Ros Farré: Value the skills of each member of the board. One may have better people skills; another may be better with numbers; another may have a good command of construction projects. It is essential to find a role for each person that matches their training and to have the ability to listen and engage in dialogue so as to always find the solution that will best benefit the business.