“The Prospect site is Colorado State University’s physical home for the Irrigation Innovation Consortium, a multi-university organization partnering with the agriculture industry to tackle the ballooning challenges of water scarcity. The CSU-led consortium was established last year through a $5 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. The co-founding university partners are Texas A&M Agrilife Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State, and Fresno State, and they are joined by an expanding list of industry collaborators.
“Forces of growth, demand for more water, declining groundwater, and climate change are all coming together to the point where irrigation is going to have to be more efficient, and more effective,” said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Center, which is the consortium’s administrative head.The goal is simple: help farmers and landscapers do more with less, by combining the practical knowledge of industry with the academic expertise of universities.
Industry pitch option
This fall and winter, the consortium’s steering committee will use a competitive process to select new projects submitted to its open call for proposals. The consortium has added a streamlined industry pitch option to encourage technology companies, large and small, to bring forward specific issues or ideas they would like to see researched. For selected pitches, the consortium will build teams involving universities and industry to come up with rapid solutions and improve agricultural and other landscape irrigation systems.
The organization’s leaders know that farmers are often bombarded with new technologies, but may be unsure whether they are worth the time and money to implement. The consortium’s work will help sort through the noise. “Basically, the consortium’s approach is to ferret out the best ideas, either from the public or private sector, build teams around those ideas, and try to address them,” Waskom said. Industry pitches are due Sept. 30, and standard research proposals are due Oct. 16. Selected proposals will be announced Dec. 5 in conjunction with the Irrigation Association’s annual Irrigation Show in Las Vegas.
Water in the West Symposium
Learn more about the Irrigation Innovation Consortium, and its linkages to the National Western Center redevelopment, at the Water in the West Symposium, Nov. 6-7.