Linking Texas irrigation
Irrigation research and education professionals have had a tremendous impact on the development and implementation of irrigation systems and practices in Texas, yet few efforts have been made to coordinate ongoing programs and results. With the formation of the Consortium for Irrigation Research and Education (CIRE) in 2007, these professionals have formed a forum to discuss and share projects and results and are working to better communicate irrigation information throughout the state and beyond.
"CIRE will facilitate communication and cooperation among irrigation scientists and engineers as well as with producer organizations and federal and state action agencies interested in improving irrigation management and technology," said Dr. Allan Jones, Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) director.
CIRE members decided a Web site would be one way to collect and publicize the past, ongoing, and planned irrigation projects across Texas. TWRI was selected to facilitate this process.
"TWRI does a great job at administering its current projects and related Web sites and has a complete communications team in place, making it a natural fit," said Dr. Giovanni Piccinni, Texas AgriLife Research associate professor, plant stress physiologist and CIRE vice chair.
The CIRE Web site is located at http://cire.tamu.edu and includes links to CIRE-related materials, grant opportunities, progress and outcomes, photos, and links to CIRE members' Web sites.
"The most notable feature of the Web site is the progress and outcomes sections," said Dr. B.L. Harris, TWRI associate director and former CIRE chair. "This allows any irrigation scientist or Extension professional to sign up and enter their ongoing project efforts and accomplishments into a database that will be accessible to anyone across Texas.
"It is our hope that the CIRE Web site will be a common place for irrigators across Texas to come for information on irrigation studies, past and present, as well as to input their own information to be shared throughout the state."
The Web site is still being fine-tuned, and suggestions on how to better collect and facilitate this information are welcome, Harris said.
In addition, a CIRE listserv has been setup to encourage more internal communication between project investigators, researchers, and specialists. Individuals can subscribe to the listserv through the Web site or by e-mailing Danielle Supercinski, CIRE secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The initial CIRE meeting was held Oct. 29-30, 2007, in College Station with 30 attendees. The next CIRE annual meeting was held May 21-22, 2008, at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde. There were 31 attendees, including representatives from AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, TWRI, and Harlingen Irrigation District. Current project updates and results were presented, and discussions on future project collaboration opportunities were highlighted.
"These efforts contribute to optimizing programs to improve irrigation management and provide for broad-based water use education and irrigation training throughout the state," Jones said.
The next annual meeting will be in the Texas High Plains in 2009.
"These meetings give us all a chance to assemble at one location, discuss our ongoing efforts, new technologies and future project ideas, and consider ways we can work together toward the common goal of saving water," Piccinni said. "We look forward to future meetings where we can continue to exchange ideas and collaborate on more projects."