Farmers and universities finding new ways to save water

Southern Utah News

CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – 75% of water in Iron County is used in agriculture, according to Paul Monroe, a sixth generation farmer and the manager for the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District.

“Agriculture is a big part of our community, it’s a big part of our heritage,” says Monroe.

The District is working on a study with Southern Utah University and Utah State University Extension testing different watering techniques in the hopes to save water across the state.

“Within each of these spans, there’s different irrigation practices, so this one right here is kind of the traditional, it’s high, the spacing is high, they’re about 5 to 7 feet apart and some of the newer practices and techniques, they bring the drops right to ground level and they’re closer together,” says Monroe.

These newer practices are preventing water from just blowing away and evaporating.

“Some of the research shows about a 20% savings or efficiency gain in that,” says Monroe.

The goal is to water less, but get the same amount of produce.

“Each of these plots are plotted out in a grid here all the way through with multiple crops and different irrigation techniques where they will cut down the watering and then see what the yield is,” says Monroe.

Monroe says in 2018, they installed about 2,000 acres of the new irrigation practices, and it’s already benefitting farmers.

“Some of them have wells that have been declining, and so by adding these, in they’ve been able to maintain they’re yield when they haven’t had as much water,” says Monroe.

Monroe says these practices could save an average of 200,000 gallons of water a day and he’s hopeful this system can be implemented throughout Utah.

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