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Sustainable Irrigation Techniques for Central Oregon Farmers: The WSARE Grant Initiative

The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) program is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. This initiative provides competitive grants and educational resources to 13 states in the American West. WSARE's grant programs are a collaborative effort involving farmers, ranchers, researchers, and agricultural professionals. Their goal is to advance farming and ranching systems that are profitable, environmentally sustainable, and beneficial for local communities. The mission of the SARE grant program is to support innovative research and education that enhance profitability, stewardship, and the quality of life in American agriculture. 

Todd Peplin, Lead Planner at the Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District (DSWCD), identified an educational gap in Central Oregon that could be addressed through the WSARE grant program. He observed that farmers in the district have varying levels of expertise in adopting new irrigation technologies and principles. According to Todd, "In Central Oregon, a growing number of new farmers require basic skills in irrigation water management. Conversely, some farmers have adopted new irrigation technologies but seek further education in managing irrigation water in today’s climate conditions." 


To address this issue, Todd has spent the past year developing a curriculum aimed at enhancing knowledge and skills in technologies that promote water conservation, enhance water efficiency, leverage irrigation technologies, and elevate the overall management of irrigation water application. Todd aims to make this specialized content available to farmers, ranchers, and stakeholders through a web-based platform, accompanied by field tours. In addition to gaining valuable knowledge to improve the sustainability and profitability of their operations, participants of the course can earn accredited educational credits through OSU (Oregon State University). 

With support from the WSARE grant, OSU, and Todd Peplin, the DSWCD is excited about introducing this innovative program to enhance the environmental, educational, and economic well-being of The District. We hope that by advancing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of landowners, conservation partners, and stakeholders we will be able to continue fostering a growing community of responsible stewards and irrigators. 

For more information regarding Western SARE grant programs and Irrigation Water Management Courses, please contact Todd Peplin: