SePRO has nearly three decades of experience in providing aquatic chemicals for the irrigation sector. In this interview, Sam Barrick, SePRO’s vice president of marketing, tells Irrigation Leader about the company’s work in the irrigation sector and the products and services it provides.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell our readers about the history of SePRO.
Sam Barrick: SePRO was started roughly 27 years ago when our founder was presented with an opportunity to acquire a few specialty products that were considered niche chemistries by the large manufacturers. He saw that managing and protecting water was always going to be important, given its role in food production in the West. He started the company to meet the need for products to manage harmful algal blooms in water reservoirs and invasive aquatic weeds that grow in lakes, rivers, and irrigation canals.
We have the most comprehensive portfolio of aquatic technologies in the industry. Some of the brand names in the canal and irrigation market are Nautique, Captain XTR, Sonar, SeClear, Clearcast, Galleon, Clearigate, Cutrine, Phycomycin, and Phoslock.
Irrigation Leader: What do SePRO’s recent acquisitions mean for western irrigation districts and canal companies?
Sam Barrick: In SePRO’s acquisition of Applied Biochemists, we’ve brought together two strong organizations that, combined, have almost 100 years of experience in the industry to support the aquatic weed and algae needs of irrigation districts and canal companies.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about SePRO’s work in nutrient control.
Sam Barrick: Phosphorus pollution is one of the fastest growing environmental challenges in the United States. Various canal managers in the 17 western states have told us phosphorus pollution from runoff is a growing concern and could affect their ability to discharge water. We have developed some technologies that can be placed in and along canals to help reduce phosphorus levels in the water prior to discharge. These technologies rapidly bind phosphorus and do not have any irrigation restrictions.
Irrigation Leader: How does that technology work?
Sam Barrick: The products are Phoslock and SeClear, which can be used in combination or individually. SeClear is an algaecide and water quality enhancer. It controls algae and sequesters phosphorus at the same time. Phoslock strips phosphorus out of the water and creates a permanent bond so the phosphorous is not released from the soil. We are also excited about a new technology we are planning to have available for the 2021 season. The new product is called EutroSORB. It will come in bags that can be placed in the water to filter out phosphorus.
Irrigation Leader: What should every irrigation district know about working with SePRO?
Sam Barrick: They should know that we are a U.S.-based company and are truly passionate about helping our customers be successful. Mike Pearce, our portfolio leader, grew up working in the canal industry. He knows how hard people in this industry work to deliver water. You cannot control whether it is going to be a wet spring or a wet winter, and you cannot prevent weather that creates algal blooms. Our technologies and expertise help us guide our customers in all those scenarios. We approach every situation with the recognition that there is no one solution that fixes all problems.
Irrigation Leader: What is your message to Congress about the importance of aquatic herbicides and the ability to use those safely?
Sam Barrick: All the tools needed to deliver water and produce an abundant and safe food supply should continue to be available. Irrigation professionals are passionate about protecting the environment, preserving the natural resources we are blessed with, and delivering water safely to their water users. Herbicides and algaecides are needed by irrigation districts and canal companies to effectively get rid of invasive weeds, control algae, and efficiently deliver water.
There are many layers of stewardship built into protecting people and the environment, starting with label recommendations and including the ongoing certifications and training that irrigation districts provide to their employees. My message to Congress is to continue to support the use of herbicides and algaecides. Let these technologies go through the appropriate regulatory process. Make sure those regulations are based on sound science. We should feel confident that the ongoing use and management of these tools will do what it has done for decades: help to safely deliver the water used to produce an abundant food supply to all of us at a low cost.