Assessing and Communicating the Technical and Economic Feasibility of Efficient Irrigation Technology

College of Agricultural Sciences

Agricultural and Resource Economics




Primary Topic:

Food and Agriculture

Other Topics:

Natural Resources and Sustainability

Lead Mentor:  

Daniel Mooney

Assistant Professor

Internship Overview:

Meeting Colorado’s future water challenges will depend, in part, on developing water management strategies that sustain farm and ranch profitability while jointly enabling collaborative water sharing agreements among water users. New knowledge and information about the technical and economic feasibility of modern irrigation systems that efficiently deliver water to crops and enable limited irrigation practices like deficit irrigation can help guide irrigation management decisions and policy. This information will also contribute to developing creative, forward-thinking solutions to future water challenges that are sustainable, resilient to change, and strengthen communities.

Since 2015, scientists at Colorado State University have conducted collaborative, engaged research at the Subsurface Irrigation Efficiency Project (SIEP) farm to evaluate the feasibility of using limited irrigation practices to grow commercially important crops at a production scale. Experiments have been conducted to evaluate technologies and practices like subsurface drip irrigation, deficit irrigation, and mobile drip irrigation. The results of these experiments will help identify and implement of solutions to future water challenges by identifying best management practices and sharing the results of feasibility studies. Long-term, this project aims to help preserve a strong agricultural economy in the South Platte region of Colorado, while enabling voluntary water sharing among water users.

Goals, Scope and Objectives:

This project seeks to hire two (2) Extension interns for this project during summer 2023. The objectives are to evaluate the technical and/or economic feasibility of efficient irrigation technologies and limited water management practices. In 2015, the western section of the SIEP farm was equipped with an 82-acre subsurface drip irrigation system. It includes a well, pump house, filtration house, and other irrigation system components. The irrigated field is mostly flat with a slight slope towards the South Platte River, situated one mile to the north of the research farm.

Interns with primary interests in soil, crop, or irrigation science will assist with data collection and analysis to evaluate the technical feasibility of the subsurface irrigation technology. Interns with primary interests in agricultural and resource will assist with data collection and analysis to evaluate the technical feasibility of the subsurface irrigation technology. The anticipated activities include assistance with field data collection, data collection, development of related Extension/outreach materials, and development and presentation of posters that describe results of the experiments and feasibility studies.

This internship will be based in Weld County, CO, but the individuals selected to fulfill the positions may be based in Fort Collins or another nearby Eastern Colorado location. Interns must be available to travel to the field site in Kersey, CO two to three days per week. A CSU vehicle will be available for travel to the field site from the CSU Fort Collins campus.

With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?

Farmers, General public, water policy

What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?

The interns will work collaboratively as a team along with campus-based faculty and graduate students in Crop and Soil Sciences and Agricultural and Resource Economics, Extension agents and specialists. The primary mentors have experience advising student clubs and internships as well as undergraduate and graduate research/outreach projects. This internship will use a guided approach where the interns are expected to contribute to project goals, but with a focus on how that role will lead to professional growth and development specific to the intern’s interests. Field-based mentors within Extension will be identified based on intern interests.
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