Researchers from 19 Land-Grant Universities Receive Western Region Award of Excellence for Multistate Water Conservation Project
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2014 — Yesterday, researchers from 19 land-grant universities received the Western Region Award of Excellence for their collaboration on a multistate water conservation and sustainable microirrigation (MI) project at a ceremony in South Lake Tahoe, Nev. Droughts and water shortages are common problems for farmers in Western region states, but MI systems help farmers irrigate land more efficiently.
“To many, the Multistate Research Program is one of the best kept secrets of the land-grant university system. This award recognizes the interdependent efforts of researchers and Extension specialists from universities in several states that have come together to tackle a priority issue that no one institution can address on their own,” said H. Michael Harrington, Executive Director of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors.
In the last five years, the project, W-2128 Microirrigation for Sustainable Water Use, has had significant local economic and environmental impacts. In Idaho, farmers who used MI systems saved 10% on labor and water pumping costs, and farmers who used MI systems in Puerto Rico were able to grow taro on a commercial scale despite dry conditions. In Oregon, MI systems have led to less groundwater pollution and higher onion crop yields. MI systems have also helped to restore disturbed land in Navajo Nation.
The 19 participating land-grant universities include: Auburn University, University of Arizona, University of California, Davis, Colorado State University, University of Florida, University of Hawaii, University of Idaho, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, University of Nebraska, New Mexico State University (NMSU), Cornell University, Oregon State University, University of Puerto Rico, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, University of the Virgin Islands, Washington State University, and University of Wyoming. In addition, the universities collaborated with USDA research laboratories, specifically the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
“This project leverages the expertise at several other institutions, which gives much greater impact to the results of the research and education efforts,” said Steve Loring, administrative adviser for the project.
Working together, these researchers examine soil health and plant physiology; conduct soil and irrigation experiments; test new equipment; and engage with farmers to encourage adoption of MI systems. The project will receive national recognition at an awards ceremony in Orlando, Fla. this November.
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Agriculture is America. In short, the agriculture industry — sustained in large part by the American land-grant university system through both Agricultural Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension — is integral to jobs, national security, and health.