Class and competition aimed to help irrigators improve

There is plenty to choose from when learning how to improve as an irrigator.

Maybe too much.

Master Irrigators classes can keep producers from becoming overwhelmed.

“There are a lot of management practices and technologies, but it’s very hard for producers to know what to prioritize, what to choose, and how it’s going to benefit their operation,” said Amy Kremen, associate director of the Irrigation Innovation Consortium, based at Colorado State UniversityFort Collins.

The class helps connect students with producers, technology experts, dealers, and others, “so they can properly consider for themselves which options and tools, and what order of actions they think they can afford to take,” she said, “based on time, learning, labor and other factors. This class aims to equip people with the connections and knowledge they can use to advance how they manage irrigation on their operations.”

The $100 tuition covers the class, which meets over four sessions of six to eight hours each. The courses are offered in Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado, Kremen said, with interest emerging to establish a program to serve southwestern Kansas.

Meanwhile, interested Kansans may consider inquiring about an upcoming class in the Oklahoma Panhandle this winter. To learn more, email coordinator [email protected].

A certified irrigator program is also in the works by Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4 in Colby. For more information, call Shannon Kenyon, district manager, 785462-3915.

For those interested in trying out a wide range of technologies as part of a competition, Kremen said, TAPS offers a fun challenge and a chance to earn rewards. It stands for Testing Ag Performance Solutions.

“TAPS allows you to take the knowledge you have and demonstrate and develop proficiency without having to incur risk on your own operation,” she said. “TAPS is unique compared to traditional farming competitions in that the top prizes go to those who are most profitable and the most efficient users of water and nitrogen. The key things are being profitable and stewarding one’s resources.”

TAPS contests are staged through the growing season by the University of Nebraska and Oklahoma State. A third one is launching next year at Colorado State University. Find out more at