In Camilla recently, producers gathered for the Stripling Irrigation Research Park’s biennial field day – a day that showcases the important research that is conducted each year that is aimed at educating producers on the latest and greatest technologies and practices they can take back home to utilize on their farms.
“Field days like this are a great opportunity for us at the university to extend that knowledge that we generate at our research plots to the general public, especially our growers who take this information and they can put it to use on their farms, whether it’s how to fertigate a crop, how to chemigate a crop, or how to better irrigate their crops, they can hear about better ways of doing those things here during our field day,” says Calvin Perry, UGA Stripling Irrigation Research Park Superintendent.
One big focus of the park of course is irrigation research, in which Perry says has helped Georgia producers better utilize water management on their farms for more than two decades.
“This facility was developed around two thousand to be focused on irrigation management and efficiency or irrigation here in southwest Georgia. We have seven similar facilities around the state, but we’re the one that is most focused on one area: that being irrigation and irrigation management. We know our farmers are going to have to irrigate most years, so we want them to be as efficient as they can be when they irrigate, so our facility does the research that helps them gain that knowledge and know how to use the technologies that can help them be efficient,” says Perry.
According to Perry, irrigation will continue to be needed for food and fiber production and being as efficient as possible is crucial in order to be better stewards of that limited resource.
“Water use efficiency is important because we’re going to continue using water in agriculture, and South Georgia is one of the largest users of water compared to more metropolitan areas. So, we’ve had, we’ve gone through water wars with Florida and Alabama , we’ve gone to the supreme court and the supreme court justices basically pointed out, we need to be efficient when we irrigate. We know that, we want to be good stewards of the water, farmers want to be good stewards, they irrigate but they also use the water for their families, so we want help them be as efficient as they can be to keep the water in the aquifers and in the streams, keep the critters happy but also be able to irrigate the crops,” says Perry.
One highlight of the day was Commissioner Harper giving the keynote address, in which he spoke about the importance of agricultural research that’s vital for the survival of production agriculture.
“If we don’t invest in the next generation, it’s going to be more difficult for agriculture to continue to be successful. You know, every day, farmers and producers are asked to do more with less, produce more product with less input, and we do that through research and innovation and what they’re doing here at the irrigation park here at Striplings, helps us do that especially from a water perspective, and the usage of water but also, you know, they’re looking at other aspects of the crop from fertilizer and everything in between, so it’s important work and it’s important we continue to invest in that work as a state and as a nation because of the role that it plays in the advancement of agriculture,” says Harper.
By: John Holcomb