The Washington Winegrowers is the association that represents one of Washington State’s most exciting irrigated crops: wine grapes. In this month’s cover story, I interview Vicky Scharlau, the group’s executive director, about trends in the wine grape world and about irrigation’s crucial role in expanding and advancing Washington State’s high-quality wine industry.

Much of the rest of this issue focuses on New Zealand, home to thousands of acres of irrigated agriculture, and to its impressive professionals. Elizabeth Soal, chief executive officer of Irrigation New Zealand, gives us a broad overview of the top issues facing the irrigated farmers who form her organization’s membership. John Nicholls, an irrigated dairy farmer and chair of MHV Water, a major irrigation scheme in the Canterbury Plains region, tells us about the issues specific to dairy farming and explains why New Zealand farmers are so efficient. Keri Johnson, a natural resources engineer at Irricon Resource Solutions Services, tells us about the new farm environment plans that New Zealand farmers are expected to develop, and the effects that these are likely to have on irrigated farming in the country. Hamish Howard of Assura Technologies has developed a highly customizable software platform that can be used for managing irrigation assets, as well as many other applications.

We also speak with several Americans about their experiences with New Zealand. Dr. Stuart Styles is the director of the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He tells us about the impressions of New Zealand irrigation he picked up during an extensive tour of agricultural land in the South Island and explains the biggest differences between New Zealand and U.S. irrigation. Randy George, vice president of international sales at T-L Irrigation, tells us about T-L’s international markets with a special focus on New Zealand. Finally, Rich Gargan tells us about International Water Screens’ projects around the world and the fish screens it has installed in New Zealand.

Finally, we also have the sad duty of remembering Scott Davis of True Point Solutions and Rubicon Water, who recently passed away. Scott was a friend and a great water professional. He will be missed.

New Zealand is a fascinating country for anyone interested in irrigation. The technological sophistication, efficiency, and environmental friendliness of its agriculture is impressive. Irrigation Leader will be sponsoring a tour to New Zealand in February 2019. If you find the interviews in this issue as interesting as I do, why not sign up and see this beautiful country firsthand? 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at