Volume 15 Issue 1 Jan NM

Insights From the End of the River

By Kris Polly

The cover interview in this month’s New Mexico edition is with the general manager of an irrigation district in Texas. Why? Because Brownsville Irrigation District is the last user on the Rio Grande—and all upstream uses affect the flow that is available to it. We speak with General Manager Arturo Cabello about operating at the end of the river and about the need for funding to help the river’s irrigation districts become more efficient.

With its Farm and Ranch Enterprise, located in the Four Corners area of Colorado, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is one of the largest irrigators in the state. In our interview with General Manager Simon Martinez, Irrigation Manager Michael Vicente, and Tribal Development Corporation Board President Michael Preston, we learn more about this successful undertaking.

Central Oregon’s Arnold Irrigation District has recently broken ground on a 12‑mile canal-piping project that will eliminate severe seepage loss with benefits for agricultural users and instream flows. We speak with District Manager Steve Johnson about the project, the district’s environmental obligations, and the challenges posed by rapid urbanization in the area.

GroGuru’s in-field water monitoring solution has a unique advantage: Its probes can stay buried for 5–7 years without needing to be removed either during harvest time or to replace the batteries. This allows the collection of uninterrupted, comparable data across numerous seasons and in between. We speak with Chief Agronomist David Sloane about the system’s benefits.

Prospera Technologies, an artificial intelligence–powered agriculture company that was acquired by Valmont in 2021, uses satellite and camera imaging to detect irrigation and crop-health issues and then provide information and recommendations to users. Vice President and General Manager Philipp Schmidt‑Holzmann tells us more about this exciting technology.

DripWorks serves Northern California with drip irrigation solutions for garden, greenhouse, and agricultural applications. Product Specialist and Lead Designer Heather Dabney tells us about the company’s irrigation kits and about its commitment to customer service.

Then, we speak with Andrew Urda, the vice president of sales operations for LS Electric America, a leader in power and automation solutions, about its variable-frequency drives and other products for the irrigated agriculture market.

Finally, we speak with Paul Brierley, the director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture and a member of Governor Katie Hobbs’s Water Policy Council, about the new administration’s priorities and about what is needed to preserve agriculture in Arizona in a drying climate.

Ingenious technical advances are allowing farmers to stretch each drop of water further—something that is important during these times of widespread drought. These advances, however, point us back to the basic fact that major water conveyance projects are the foundation of the tremendous agricultural production we see across the American West. Let’s value those projects and continue to fund them.

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 kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.