Irrigation is a story of humans harnessing nature. We collect, measure, and move water—sometimes across a field, sometimes across a state or a mountain range— and make crops grow out of what was once barren ground. The elemental power of irrigation is very much on display in our interview with General Manager Brad Wind of Colorado’s Northern Water. Northern Water sends hundreds of thousands of acre-feet a water a year under the Rockies to irrigate a swath of northeastern Colorado as large and populous as the state of Delaware. This is a feat of human ingenuity, engineering, and hard work. 

The harnessing of nature also happens at the microscopic level, with farmers carefully measuring each drop of water and fertilizer they apply to their crops. Peter Buss of Australian sensor company Sentek tells us about how its sensors collect and digest data for the benefit of farmers. Krystle Rhoades, meanwhile, tells us about how the University of Nebraska– Lincoln’s Testing Ag Performance Solutions program uses yield contests as an alternative extension program to allow farmers to experiment with new management methods. 

Doug Snell of Frost, PLLC, describes his accounting firm’s services and why it is particularly suited to serving irrigation districts. 

We also check in with two innovators: Juliann Blanford of Nustreem describes how her company’s small hydro installations can be transported three to a shipping container and installed with reduced civil construction costs, and Jack Linke of Watervize has developed a water accounting and order management software platform designed specifically with smaller irrigation districts in mind. 

From water capture and conveyance structures to the field, from university research centers to innovative businesses, human ingenuity and hard work are advancing irrigation every day. I hope this issue of Irrigation Leader gives you an insight into how our industry is developing today. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president and CEO 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