Advancements in Irrigation Agriculture with Implications for Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship in Southern Alberta
By: University of Lethbridge
Grant Number: 2018-05

The final report of a study investigating the adoption of technological advancements in irrigation agriculture found irrigators are actively adopting these technologies, generating benefits for irrigators, the broader communities that depend on irrigation, and the environment. Often referred to as “precision agriculture”, the technologies improve crop yield and quality, as well as reduce farm inputs. Examples of such technologies are GPS systems, satellite imagery, auto-steer technology, and weather monitoring sensors.

The study, entitled “Advancements in Irrigation Agriculture with Implications for Economic and Community Development and Environmental Stewardship in Southern Alberta”, surveyed Taber Irrigation District irrigators. The findings were recently released by researchers Drs. Lorraine and Chris Nicol of the University of Lethbridge.

The study found:
– 81% of irrigators have adopted some form of precision agriculture;
– yearly crop yields have increased an average 20% and yearly crop quality has increased an average 16%;
– yearly reductions in irrigation water, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides have ranged from 14% to 24%;
– precision agriculture technologies are being applied largely to specialty crops;
– for 85% of adopters, precision agriculture has affected their overall farm management approach;
– 89% of adopters are highly satisfied with the technology
– 92% of adopters plan to adopt additional precision agriculture technologies in the future;
– non-adopters indicate small operations, high investment costs, and incompatibility of machines are the main reasons for their non-adoption of precision agriculture technologies.

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