Tackling irrigation challenges of Southwest Georgia
Here in Southwest Georgia we have lots of farms. It's just how we roll. Farmers here and everywhere deal with all types of conditions and challenges and are always looking ways to improve all that they do.
Superintendent of the University of Georgia's Strippling irrigation research park Calvin Perry says that their mission at Stippling Park "is to help our growers be as efficient with irrigation water as they can be. So we look at many different aspect of the application of water on agricultural fields."
Living in a humid subtropical climate with 40-60 inches of rainfall annually one might think that mother nature takes care of the watering but mother nature can be fickle so farmers also rely on irrigation.
"Our research has really helped us show growers that there are technologies or tools or techniques that can help them be more efficient" says Perry.
Having a good irrigation system in place is important but when and how much to water often depends on a good weather forecast and Strippling Research Park is working that side of the fence as well.
Strippling Park is proud to be working with the Flint River Conservation District on the IBM Deep Thunder project which is a high accuracy weather prediction model or rain prediction model.
"That has exciting opportunities, if we can work with growers and give them a two day forecast for rain with 80% accuracy i think we can get some growers very interested in those results really help them plan their irrigation more effectively" says Perry.
This research center is about 130 acres with about 75 acres in plots. Hundreds if not thousands of individual plots are planted annually where scientists carry out a multitude of research projects hoping to make improvements in different areas.
"We help researchers as well as industry evaluate these varieties and see how they perform under fully irrigated or less than full irrigation or dry land conditions to see what farmers can adapt and grow on their farms" adds Perry.
Some years farms irrigate extensively and all the water they use really adds up. Even in these more civilized times we still have wars between states and for many years now Georgia, Alabama and Florida have been fighting a water war; a war that in some ways could involve Strippling Research Park.
"I think that without a doubt those that are involved in that litigation are going to be looking at what we're all doing in Georgia. Especially those of us involved in agriculture it's a large user of water we recognize that. And i think that makes our mission that much greater to help our growers be as efficient as they possibly can to conserve that valuable resource to make every drop count and to simply get more mileage out of that water that they're applying" says Perry.
The Strippling Irrigation Research Park will continue to be on the front lines pioneering improvements in agriculture and on that you can bet the farm.