Irrigation Technology and Management (ITM) Professional Development Project

Progress report for WPDP22-020

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $99,982.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G353-22-W9214
Grant Recipient: Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Todd Peplin
Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District
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Project Information


Water availability is essential for food and energy production and thus for societal sustainability. Climate change along with an exponential growing population has increased demand on the water resources in Central Oregon. New producers are acquiring small agricultural properties that once were viable large-scale farms. Many of these new irrigators are beginning farmers or ranchers with little experience or education in irrigation water management (IWM). Furthermore, experienced agricultural producers could gain additional knowledge and resources in adopting new irrigation technologies.

Because of the diverse irrigation knowledge, pressures on the water resource, and climate change, producers need the skills to improve their irrigation water management and the ability to utilize new irrigation technologies that can sustain their viable farming operation. 

The goal of the Irrigation Technology and Management (ITM) Professional Development Project is to enhance and expand upon the successful IWM training efforts of Oregon State University (OSU), Central Oregon Extension and the Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District (DSWCD). These training efforts have shown to increase knowledge and understanding of IWM to local producers and technical experts. It uses a multidisciplinary approach, which provides information on best methods and innovative approaches. Trainings have connected producers with local experts, institutional resources, and experienced producers, which supports the economic, cultural, and ecological health of communities. Broader implementation of these efforts will amplify the knowledge and understanding of IWM methods and utilization of new irrigation technologies. This knowledge is crucial for educators, agricultural professionals, and producers in order to communicate to diverse groups of irrigators and increase the adoption of water conservation techniques. 

Project Objectives:

Objectives of this project are to create a hybrid  curriculum that is web-based and field oriented and provide professional development trainings to allow the DSWCD and OSU, Central Oregon Extension to reach expanded audiences via Extension agents and educators, NRCS staff, SWCD personnel, and other agricultural professionals who provide educational and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers.


  1. OSU and DSWCD will collaborate in developing and publishing the ITM curriculum containing the 11 modules. The objective is to publish the Train-the-Trainer guidance document by year two of the grant. 
  2. For each module, OSU and DSWCD will convene a group consisting of agricultural professionals and producers to develop management/technology guidance (MTG’s) documents that instructors can use for teaching and can be distributed to producers. These MTG documents correspond to a module topic, providing information about the technology or management. The guidance document also contains an assessment worksheet for producers, evaluating their current on-farm management or technology and identifying opportunities to adopt new water conservation practices. Target date for completion of this objective is the second year of the grant.
  3. OSU and DSWCD will collaborate in developing the hybrid version of the ITM training. The objective is to develop a web-based platform for the ITM curriculum, along with identifying producers and agricultural specialists to hold field-based trainings. Curriculum with on-farm field training will be offered in the third year of the grant.
  4. In Year 3 of the grant, OSU and DSWCD will provide three, two-day professional workshops to train approximately 45 professionals to use the curriculum guidance document, hybrid program, and MTG documents.
  5. In year 3 of the grant, OSU will present at three state and national conferences to introduce these tools to an additional 50-100 professionals. The objective is to further reach agricultural professionals and producers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

The project got under way after the grant agreement was executed on 5/18/2022. Coordination meetings with OSU and DSWCD got underway in April to discuss the project and deliverables. A working group of nine members (3 landowners, 3 OSU faculty, 1 NRCS, 1 WSU professor, and 1 DSWCD) was assembled and monthly meetings conducted. The primary focus of the working group is to review and comment on publication and curriculum development. In addition, meetings with the head of the OSU Crop and Soils Department were also conducted to determine OSU publication protocols. OSU requires a peer and blind peer review before materials can be published.  This is concerning because, the Management Technical Guides (MTG's) maybe delayed and not ready for publishing in 2023. Curerently 3 MTG's are in draft form and will be sent for blind peer review in January 2023. An informational and literary search was conducted to determine informational gaps for MTG development. As expected, about 60% of the information from previous presentations was available leaving 40% of the information to be developed. 

For 2023, it is anticipated to have all 10 MTG's developed and in the review process. Contact will be made with PACE to develop the on-line curriculum.  


It is important to note that the adoption of on-farm irrigation water management and efficiency measures improves crop yields and water consumption. Yet producers are still reluctant to take advantage of new irrigation technologies or management techniques. Many producers’ perception of water conservation practices is that they are too expensive or complicated to adopt. Producers need to be shown how these water conservation practices can be affordable and reduce their water and power consumption while maximizing productivity.

The ITM Program will provide education and hands-on training to assist producers in adopting new technologies or management techniques. Agriculture professionals including Extension agents, NRCS staff, and SWCD personnel frequently interact with new and experienced irrigators who need one-on-one, hands-on education and guidance.  This ITM program will serve as a first-line course to provide necessary knowledge and skills. It will culminate in a final capstone project to develop a simple water management and monitoring plan for their operations, solidifying the participants’ learning and application of course principles.

The resources to implement this program include the following: Funding from WSARE will be used to provide capacity to PI Peplin (DSWCD) and co-PIs Zamora and Tomasek (OSU) for the development and coordination of the ITM curriculum. This includes the creation of the course curriculum guidance document, management/technology guidance (MTG) documents (which will be completed in year 2 of the grant), the development of the web-based hybrid content, course advertisement, and organizing and managing the hands-on training (which will be completed by the third year of the grant).  In addition, NRCS, agricultural professionals, and producers will participate in developing and reviewing the MTG documents, and conducting the three, two-day on farm field trainings. Agricultural and natural resource experts from partner universities (WA, ID) and agencies will provide peer review for all educational products. Program evaluation from agricultural professionals and producers are key to the success of the ITM program.  We anticipate the program serves as an initial framework for the development and delivery of an informational, practical, and applied course on IWM and technologies and can be applied statewide in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

The attached Gantt chart outlines activities, responsibilities, and their projected completion dates. 


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Matthew Alongi (Educator)
  • Rex Barber - Producer
  • Mylen Bohle (Educator)
  • Dr. Troy Peters (Educator)
  • Abigail Tomasek (Educator)
  • Maria Zamorare (Educator)

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Publish ITM Curriculum

The objective is to publish the Train-the-Trainer guidance document by year two of the grant.


The Train-the-Trainer guidance document will contain a description of each module (lesson), the associated Mangement Technical Guide (MTG) and a "how to" for conducting training on IWM priciples.

Outcomes and impacts:

This objective has not been started. Currently we are developing the 11 modules (lessons) at this time. It is anticipated that this will be started at the end of this year with completion by the end of 2024. 

Convene a group consisting of agricultural professionals and producers

The objective is to assemble a working group of agricultural professionals and producers to assist in the development and review of the Management Technical Guides (MTG's).


The working group formulates the objectives for each lesson topic. Group members with the technical expertice assists in the development of the MTG and assessment document. The working group reviews the MTG for technical content, ensure the content is understandable and clear to the producer. Once it has on through the review process then the MTG goes through a blind peer review before publishing.  

Outcomes and impacts:

The grant was executed in May of 2022, since then we have assembled a core group and a working group. The Core group consists of Oregon State University (OSU) professors (Maria Zamora Rea, and Abigail Tomasek) and Deschutes SWCD (Todd Peplin). This group is the steering committee for project administration, organization, tracking, and progress. The working group consists of OSU, Washington State University (WSU), Natural Resources Conservation Service, and 4 agricultural producers. This group assists in MTG development and is the primary reviewers of the MTG. Their primary responsibility is to review the MTG for clarity and content (see attached for names). 

In November 2022 the core group has met with department heads to understand the university's review process and publishing protocols. All university publications must be blind reviewed before published. Because of this, more time is needed in the publishing of the MTG's. All MTG's are scheduled to be published by the end of 2023 of which we are trying to meet this deadline. Currently 3 MTG's (Irrigation Water Managment Plan, Water Rights and Law, and Soil-Plant-Water Relationships) have been developed. two will be ready for blind peer review in January 2023 with publication hopefully in February 2023.

Development of hybrid version of the ITM Training

Objective is to develop a web-based platform for ITM curriculum along with identifying producers and agricultural specialist to hold field-based training.


This objective will be the final product, to hold web-based classes and field sessions. 

Outcomes and impacts:

This product has informally been tested in 2022. Deschutes SWCD and OSU offered 3 workshops in the spring, summer and fall, on-line and in person, along with 3 field sessions throughout the year. The last session was a panel discussion of producer discuss opportunity and challenges they faced during the irrigation session. Classes contain some of the lessons we are developing with the WSARE grant.  Feedback from attendees provide valuable information to incorporate in MTG development. 

This product is formally being scheduled in 2024.

Provide three 2 day professional workshops

Workshops are to train 45 professionals to use the curriculum guidance.


Workshops are targeted for Federal, State, and local agencies, irrigation professionals, and agricultural producers. 

Outcomes and impacts:

No work has started on this product. Product is scheduled for 2024. 

Introduce the ITM curriculum to State and National Conferences

Introduce the ITM curriculum and tools to other States


Product is to present the ITM curriculum to other states in the northwest. 

Outcomes and impacts:

No work has started on this product. Product is scheduled for 2024. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

12 Consultations
3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools

Participation Summary:

2 Extension
1 Researchers
2 Nonprofit
1 Agency
4 Farmers/ranchers
1 Others
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.