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       Accessing Irrigation Information on the Internet

by Richard Mead

(This article is more than 6 years old. Much as been added to the web over that period of time. If you know of an interesting site or find broken links within the information below, please feel free to contact the webmaster at rmead@lightspeed.net)

The Internet is a beneficial tool that provides the ultimate form of international communication. It also represents the first global system of its kind available to the average person. Almost all countries have at least one Internet access point. The only thing miraculous about cyberspace is its sheer size and growth. Its strength is its flexibility, whereby it is effectively impossible for the Internet to globally fail in a catastrophic way.

Although the Internet began about 30 years ago, it did not grow exponentially until the early 1990's. With the appearance of the first web browser Mosaic, the World Wide Web aspect of the Internet exploded in 1993. The hyperlink and multimedia capabilities of the "Web" increased the ease-of-use aspect of the Internet. The Internet now has a million web pages added to it daily and is viewed by 130 million people worldwide. By the year 2003, that number is expected to triple.

Most would not argue that the number one source to start looking for irrigation information on the web is the WWW Virtual Library of Irrigation located at www.wiz.uni-kassel.de/kww/irrig_i.html. It is essentially the "yahoo" of irrigation information. The V.L.I. provides links and information to sites holding knowledge relevant to irrigation and hydrology on the web. The on-line library includes irrigation news, conferences, on-line journals, independent articles, statistics and standards, lists of associations and more. Ironically, the web site is located in Germany, an atypical country for irrigation technology.

The Irrigation Association has two web sites. The main portal, located at www.irrigation.org consists of a calendar of events, certification and consumer information, a forum for chatting, and a publication called Irrigation Business & Technology which have their past editions on-line. The second I.A. site is located at www.irri-gate.com. This site entitled "The Irrigation Specific Search Engine" is as it says, a specific search engine for irrigation information. It scours it’s own database of publications along with other sources on the Internet.

Numerous world-renowned irrigation institutes or laboratories have their current or finished research projects or software available on the web. These on-line facilities include:

  • Center for Irrigation Technology

          cati.csufresno.edu/cit/

  • Irrigation Training and Research Center

          www.itrc.org

  • Water Management Research Laboratory (ARS-USDA)

           pwa.ars.usda.gov/fno/wmrl

  • Water Management Research Unit (ARS-USDA)

          www.cprl.ars.usda.gov/wmrmis.htm.

  • Utah State University International Irrigation Center

          www.engineering.usu.edu/Departments/bie/software.html

  • United States Salinity Laboratory

www.ussl.ars.usda.gov

  • ARS Irrigation and Drainage Research Main Index

          www.ars.usda.gov/id/res_main.htm

The Green Net Online Network, publishers of the Irrigation Journal, (www.greenindustry.com/ij/current) and the Landscape Irrigation Journal (www.greenindustry.com/li/current), both of their most recent issues on-line publications along with their own unique search engine for archival material.

The Water Efficiency Clearinghouse at www.waterwiser.org has established itself as the preeminent resource for water efficiency and water conservation. The WEC offers online survey results, information on conservation savings, plumbing standards, regulations, water reuse and recycling and more. It even has an effective drip calculator that helps measure and estimate the water wasted due to leaks

The Florida Agricultural Information Retrieval Service at hammock.ifas.ufl.edu offers a wide variety of on-line articles with a huge array of specific irrigation articles located at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/scripts/htmlgen.exe?MENU_AE:IRR

North Carolina State University has a great page entitled "Managing Drought: Crop Strategies" located at www.ces.ncsu.edu/drought/crop.html. This site includes crop water needs for vegetables, fruit, forestry, cotton, nursery crops, tobacco, soybeans and corn.

If you want information off line and in hardcopy, Amazon.com has got to be the best book resource on the web. Enter "irrigation" in Amazon's search engine and you'll find more than 630 books in their inventory related to irrigation. With just a few more clicks, you can place your book selection in a virtual shopping basket and order them to your front door using a credit card.

If you need basic soil information prior to your next irrigation, check out the on-line "soil texture triangle hydraulic properties calculator" located at www.bsyse.wsu.edu/~saxton/soilwatr/. It gives on the fly field capacity , theoretical wilting point, saturation points and saturated hydraulic conductivity rates for any soil.

Need an irrigation-related job? Check out "Irrigation Jobs" located at www.irrigationjobs.com. Irrigation Jobs has a fantastic database of job listings and on-line resumes.

Before the explosion the "web", there were (and still are) other forms of information on the Internet. The Internet provides thousands of discussion groups via e-mail which allow users to place themselves on electronic mailing lists. One can globally discuss any topic imaginable with experts or fellow enthusiasts of that topic. Subscriptions to e-mail discussion lists are free whereby all you need is an e-mail address. To this day, e-mail discussion lists are the primary interactive sources of irrigation information, albeit from subjective discussion.

There are four distinct irrigation discussion groups: Irrigation-L, Trickle-L, Salinity-L and SoWaCS.

The purpose of Irrigation-L is to cover technical aspects of irrigation like design, hydraulics, and system layouts. It is also open for topics like irrigation management, socio-cultural, political and economic questions relevant to irrigation.

Trickle-L focuses on all aspects of drip irrigation technology that is sometimes referred to as Microirrigation.

Salinity-L discusses the management practices of saline soils along with more detailed discussions of salt movement in the soil and crop salt tolerance.

SoWaCS or Soil Water Content Sensors is a discussion list which obviously focuses on methods and techniques used to measure soil water content and soil water potential.

All of the above discussion groups are operated by a listserver. A listserver automatically distributes an e-mail message from one member of the list to all other members on the list. When you subscribe to a list, your name and e-mail address is automatically added to it. To subscribe to any of the four lists above, send in the E-mail message (without the quotes), "subscribe (name of list) your name to the following addresses:

Some of these email discussion lists have web pages that store and house archives of discussions for future reference. The Microirrigation Forum located at www.trickle-l.com is the web home for Trickle-L archives. It also contains a directory of drip manufacturers and related industry products, a calendar of drip irrigation related events, a related links section, and a digital gallery of visual descriptions which explain microirrigation technology.

SoWaCS has followed suit by creating a virtual resource web page at www.sowacs.com. The SoWaCS web site has archives of most discussions, and acts as a central database of the many sensors on the market, descriptions on how they work, how to choose a certain type, where to get them, how much they cost and comparisons between methods.

Richard Mead is currently the Business Manager for UAP-West, located in Fresno, California