ETTER – A new Master Irrigator training program will be offered in a collaborative effort by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, North Plains Groundwater Conservation District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The irrigation management training curriculum is made up of 32 hours of intensive education conducted over three one-day sessions and one two-day session spread over a three-month period, said Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist who designed the program after other AgriLife Extension “Master” programs.
The fee is $100 and registration will be limited to 25 producers. If more than 25 applications are received, selection will be based on date of application and geographic location. Register online at http://www.northplainsgcd.org/.
The program is focused on increasing understanding and proficiency with the latest irrigation management tools, technologies and practices to understand how and why they work, Amosson said.
“Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to select tools and strategies that fit your operation and can be implemented to maximize your return on investment for every drop of water you use,” Amosson said.
Sessions will be held April 13, April 20, July 13-14 and July 20. All sessions will be at the North Plains Water Conservation Center, 6045 County Road E, Etter.
The curriculum will cover a wide range of irrigation management strategies, including:
– Planting drought-resistant hybrids at appropriate seeding rates.
– Monitoring field conditions using rain gauges, flow meters and soil-moisture probes.
– Managing irrigation with planting date, eliminating or reducing pre-irrigation, controlling the pivot, switching to a variant of low-energy precision application irrigation or other high-efficiency delivery system, and using telemetry and irrigation scheduling tools.
– Managing crop residue by using conservation tillage practices.
– Adjusting nutrient application to address reduced irrigation.
In addition, each session will include the economic implications of the strategies being presented and include a panel of producers using the technology/strategy to discuss pros and cons they have observed.
Session 1 will cover irrigation scheduling and be taught by Amosson and David Sloan, AquaSpy agronomist, St. Louis, Missouri, and Karlyle Haaland, PivoTrac Monitoring founder and owner/operator, Dalhart.
Session 2 will cover agronomics and be taught by Fred Vosacek, Servi-Tech senior laboratory agronomist, Dodge City, Kansas; Randy Haarberg, Orthman precision tillage systems agronomist, Omaha, Nebraska; and Dr. Charles Hillyer, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineering specialist, Amarillo.
Session 3 will cover irrigation systems and include Leon New, North Plains’ project leader, Amarillo; Farris Hightower, Lindsay Corporation regional sales manager, Lubbock; David Reinart, with Wilbur-Ellis Company and co-owner of Better Harvest Inc., Dumas; Dr. Jourdan Bell, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Amarillo; and Jerry Funck, Professional Water Management Associates owner, Lubbock.
Session 4 will cover special topics, including the use of drones, and be taught by Keith Sides, Natural Resources Conservation Service state irrigation engineer, Lubbock; John Gibson, Crop Quest precision ag specialist, Dodge City, Kansas; and Steve Walthour, North Plains groundwater district general manager, Dumas.
Through a partnership agreement by the groundwater district and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an estimated $1.6 million in funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program has been setup to support the new Master Irrigator program, Walthour said.
“Participants who complete the course and receive their Master Irrigator Certification will have priority access to the North Plains GCD EQIP funding for EQIP eligible practices,” he said.
Each cost-share recipient will receive in-season technical support to ensure tools and practices are being optimally implemented, Walthour said. Participants will be required to work with groundwater district personnel to document the effectiveness of the practices employed.
For more information, contact Kirk Welch with the groundwater district at 806-922-7947 or firstname.lastname@example.org.