Overall, the Master Irrigator program seems to be resonating with participants: “My biggest takeaway was how smaller management decisions and shifts can re sult in benefits that add up over time (water savings),” said one producer from the Panhandle. “I liked the non - biased information,” said a producer from southwest Oklahoma.
The major challenge we had in designing this program was figuring out how to address the variety of irrigation issues our target farmers may be facing and incorporating all the information in one program that flows well. But with every cohort we create, we refine our process and get better at selecting and compiling content. As we develop the next Master Irrigator curriculum, we are considering a variety of revisions. Among the topics we might cover more in depth are chemical application through irrigation systems and water use efficiency. We might also include discussion about planting alternative crops. We have thought about offering continuing education units for those participants who are professional agronomists, who need to maintain their certification, but that’s likely not something we’ll do i n the near future.
A Big Hill, A Big Opportunity
We know that advanced irrigation technology can play an important role in solving Oklahoma’s chronic water shortage. But these tools require advanced knowledge, which is why not many farmers use them. For example, only 5% of farms in the state use moisture sensors — this is less than half the national percentage. We have a long way to go, but this is a huge opportunity for the Master Irrigator program, which we believe is raising the level of technical irrigation expertise among producers while decreasing the stress on the state’s water sources.
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