Here’s the release from the Subsurface Irrigation Efficiency Project (Brenna Wieker):
On a 165acre plot of land, donated by United Water and Sanitation District President Bob Lembke, and located off of U.S. 34 and Weld County Road 63 a multimillion dollar project is underway that will point the way to improved efficiencies for both agriculture and municipal water users.
The Subsurface Irrigation Efficiency Project (SIEP) partners researchers from CSU with Jewish Colorado, Netafim, 70 Ranch, the Platte Water Development Authority and United Water and Sanitation District on a project inspired by the irrigation techniques used in Israel’s Negev Desert.
SIEP is the brainchild of Bob Lembke who found his inspiration for the project during a 2011 trip to Israel with Jewish Colorado.
“When I saw what they were able to do with far less, I was amazed and thought, ‘Why won’t this work here?’ This area continues to grow at a rapid pace and our current efforts to improve water efficiency and conservation just don’t work. This could be the solution to not only improve water efficiency, but also improve productivity, crop quality and overall profitability.”
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that the agricultural sector of the economy reasonably consumes around 90 percent of available surface and ground water in the West. At the same time, Colorado’s Front Range municipalities are growing at a rapid pace and are expected to attract over one million new residents in the next few decades. Subsurface drip irrigation presents the opportunity for rural landowners, farmers and ranchers and municipal users to efficiently conserve and use one of Colorado’s most valuable resources.
SIEP utilizes a system perfected by Netafim where water, fertilizer and pesticides are supplied directly to the plant roots by polyethylene lines that are located 1016 inches below the surface. Subsurface irrigation allows for better control of water resources and fertilizers and is more efficient than center pivots and furrow systems.
Phase one of SIEP consisted of a Netafim designed 82.5acre parcel divided into 19 zones. Sorghumsudangrass was selected as the first year’s crop for the entirety of that parcel and yielded 297 bales at a combined weight of over 215 tons from a single cutting Construction of a new research building will be completed in early spring, this building will be used as an office for the CSU Researchers and will operate as an educational facility for farmers, students and public who wish to learn more about drip irrigation. The SIEP research facility will provide a realtime demonstration of subsurface irrigation and the water savings the technology can bring to residential lawns.
If you would like to learn more about SIEP please visit our new website http://www.siepwater.com.