Volume 15 Issue 1 Jan NZ

Agricultural Success, Enabled by Irrigation

By Kris Polly

Todd Muller has a family background in agriculture and years of experience in agribusiness and spent 9 years representing the Bay of Plenty in the New Zealand Parliament. We have the privilege of speaking with him this month about trends in irrigated agriculture, the need for water storage, and the future of water management in New Zealand.

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.

Finally, 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.

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 this tremendous agricultural production. 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.