Public Policy Issues

Agriculture Irrigation Research Priorities

The Irrigation Association has identified the following priority areas for agriculture irrigation research:

  • Irrigation water management practices and systems.
  • Wastewater utilization on irrigated land.
  • Irrigation standards and evaluation guidelines.
  • Irrigation sensors, controls and information technologies.
  • Irrigation system manufacturing and recycling.

IA welcomes and supports research on these topics by government, academia and industry firms.

Irrigation Water Management Practices & Systems

Objective: Develop more efficient and economic agriculture irrigation practices and systems that conserve natural resources, increase crop yield and quality, and benefit the environment.

Research priorities include:

  • Increasing the efficiency of agriculture irrigation.
  • Quantifying the effects of wind on sprinkler irrigation patterns.
  • Improving irrigation system energy efficiency.
  • Compiling databases for soil conditions, water supplies, crop water requirements and climate conditions.
  • Capturing crop-specific water requirements.
  • Determining irrigation system potential to control crop temperature.
  • Defining irrigation best practices for humid areas.
  • Improving techniques to manage salinity.
  • Reusing and recycling drainage waters.
  • Measuring the impact of agriculture irrigation on water quality.
  • Documenting the ecosystem benefits of agricultural irrigation.

Wastewater Utilization on Irrigated Land

Objective: Develop irrigation technologies that use biological and chemical waste and wastewater while protecting water quality and the environment, preserving natural resources and reducing total cost.

Research priorities include:
  • Identifying best practices for rural, residential, municipal, food processing and industrial waste disposal.
  • Determining best practices for applying solid and liquid animal waste.
  • Managing aesthetic and health considerations of wastewater utilization.
  • Investigating the positive impact of agriculture irrigation on air and water pollution.
  • Improving nutrient management.

Irrigation Standards & Evaluation Guidelines

Objective: Develop standards and evaluation guidelines to improve performance, operator safety and irrigation system management.

Research priorities include:

  • Determining criteria for evaluating water application uniformity.
  • Optimizing chemical application.
  • Developing product standards that meet ANSI, ISO and European Community requirements.
  • Specifying system design requirements to ensure operator safety.
  • Defining equipment safety requirements for irrigation system design.
  • Clarifying short- and long-term system performance requirements.
  • Improving irrigation system evaluation based on seasonal versus single-event metrics.
  • Developing criteria to evaluate total system areas rather than inappropriate subsets.
  • Setting standards for material suitability, and chemical interactions and concentrations.
  • Improving system component interchangeability.

Irrigation Sensors, Controls & Information Technologies

Objective: Promote adoption of new technologies for irrigation scheduling, system control and operation, and precision application.

Research priorities include:

  • Applying field and remote sensors.
  • Implementing information technologies.
  • Enhancing automated control systems.
  • Developing cost-effective communication systems for data exchange.
  • Implementing geographic information systems for differential control of water and chemical application.
  • Using global positioning systems to provide input for geographic information systems.
  • Developing databases with soil, water supply, crop water requirement and climate condition information for precision irrigation.

Irrigation System Manufacturing & Recycling

Objective: Develop efficient, economic and environmentally responsible manufacturing, recovery and recycling techniques for irrigation systems and components.

 Research priorities include:

  • Defining appropriate component materials, and recycling and disposal techniques.
  • Improving product design, manufacturing processes and product obsolescence to minimize environmental impact.

Approved November 2004, IA Board of Directors