By Kris Polly
From September 10 to September 16, members of our magazine staff traveled across the U.S. states of Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington with a tour group primarily made up of New Zealanders, visiting a wide variety of agribusiness and cultural sites. We know from experience how much fun spending time with Kiwis is—and this trip was no exception—but we were also proud to be able to share information and ideas from the U.S. irrigated ag sector with our visitors. We have learned a lot from New Zealand’s irrigators in our visits to the country, and I like to think we returned the favor during this tour. Read the tour participants’ reactions in our cover story.
Next, we turn to Australia. Beginning around 2009, Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI), one of Australia’s largest private irrigation companies, set out on an automation journey that has resulted in vast improvements in efficiency and conservation. With Rubicon technology and a state-of-the-art control room, MI has centralized visibility and control of its entire system. We interview Alan Shea, the general manager of asset delivery and performance, about MI’s modernization. Our readers should also know that Mr. Shea will be attending the Colorado River Water Users Association meeting in Las Vegas in December.
AQUA4D was founded to clean and descale pipe systems inside buildings, and it was only by chance that the company discovered that the way it treated water had tremendously positive effects for agricultural water conservation and plant and soil health. We speak with Chief Commercial Officer Yvain Mirabal, who manages the Swiss company’s U.S. subsidiary, about the systems it has created for center pivots and drip systems.
Aqua-Yield takes another tack toward boosting agriculture: Its nanoparticles load up fertilizer, biostimulants, and other molecules and transport them en masse into plants much more quickly than they’d otherwise be absorbed. Chief Science Officer Landon Bunderson tells us more about this fascinating technology.
Michael Michaud, the executive director of the Hydraulic Institute, tells us about how the industry group develops standards, works with municipal and irrigation companies, partners with government agencies, and holds conferences to advance the state of the industry.
We also chat with John Mele, the national business development manager at Hobas Pipe USA Inc., about the tours the company holds of its Houston manufacturing facility for professionals from the municipal and irrigation industries.
Finally, we speak with Sarah Pruden, the grants and marketing coordinator at Rubicon Water, about the aid with grant writing and planning that the company provides as a free service.
With the drought in the Colorado basin continuing to grind on, it is wise to look to other countries’ experiences dealing with water storage and automation. Both Australia and New Zealand have much to teach the United States.
Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and the 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 email@example.com.
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