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Transforming Pasture Management: The Medina Water Quality Project

Amidst the expanse of 17 acres of flood-irrigated pasture, a story of environmental innovation and stewardship lies. Alpacas and sheep roamed the vibrant fields, creating a scene that embodied the harmonious coexistence of animals and agriculture. However, beneath this pastoral charm lay a water quality challenge that was yearning for a sustainable solution.

The grazing activities of the alpacas and sheep, though seemingly idyllic, inadvertently triggered nutrient runoff from manure and fertilizers into the surrounding area. Excess irrigation water became the conduit for this runoff, channeling it into the Central Oregon Irrigation District's (COID) main canal. This scenario painted a picture of ecological imbalance, one that called for a thoughtful intervention.

The vision was clear: address the water quality predicament of the COID canal by revamping the traditional flood irrigation methodology. The transformative project's objectives encompassed not only the eradication of the current flood irrigation approach but also the installation of an efficient sprinkler system and the refinement of irrigation water management (IWM) practices.

In pursuit of this mission, the Oregon Department of Agriculture Grant fund emerged as a valuable resource. With this support in hand, a series of strategic steps were undertaken. A vault, boasting an inline pump, replaced the erstwhile diversion gate that marked the property's entrance. The existing on-farm open ditch was supplanted by an underground 6-inch 165psi class PVC pipe, ushering in a new era of water management. 

A pivotal highlight of this transformation was the installation of a cutting-edge wheel line, poised to replace the conventional flood irrigation technique. This marked a turning point, as the innovative wheel line system promised to usher in precision, efficiency, and a substantial reduction in nutrient runoff.

The projected outcomes of this comprehensive endeavor are nothing short of remarkable. The conversion from flood irrigation to the streamlined wheel line system is anticipated to yield an impressive water savings of 37%. Additionally, by embracing an IWM plan, the project envisions an additional 3% water savings, further underlining the commitment to resource efficiency.

This story of transformation encapsulates the essence of sustainable progress. By embracing innovative techniques, the 17 acres that once graced Central Oregon's landscape have evolved into a model of responsible land and water management. It stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, foresight, and the unwavering pursuit of a harmonious balance between agriculture and nature.