Private Irrigators in Southern Alberta: A Survey of Their Adoption of Improved Irrigation Technologies and Management Practices

Nicol, Lorraine; Bjornlund, Henning; Klein, K. K.
September 2010
Canadian Water Resources Journal/Revue Canadienne des Ressources;Fall2010, Vol. 35 Issue 3, p339
Academic Journal
Private irrigators account for about one-quarter of total irrigated area in southern Alberta with the balance of irrigation taking place within 13 irrigation districts. Some 1,367 private irrigation license holders exist in Alberta with a total irrigable area of more than 125,000 hectares. This group's participation in achieving the province's Water for Life objective of a 30 percent increase in water efficiency and productivity is important. Based on a random survey of private irrigators, it was found that they are grounded in family farm traditions, have been slow to adopt improved irrigation technologies and management practices in the past, and have even less intention of doing so in the future. A host of factors are causing this low adoption rate, but foremost are financial constraints and physical field conditions. Large cash subsidies or the establishment of additional processing facilities especially for Timothy hay and alfalfa would be required to motivate this group to adopt improved irrigation technologies. Adopting improved management practices may occur more readily since these would not involve large financial outlays. Water savings may be possible since the decision of when and how much to irrigate continues to be based on the long-standing tradition of eye-balling the crop's condition and judging the weather.


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