Workshop teaches UGA Extension agents best irrigation practices

By edited by Sarah Bunyea

The information is intended to equip county agents to help green industry clients and consumers.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension program has traditionally helped farmers use water wisely, but now it’s helping county agents in urban areas teach their clients how to manage water wisely in the landscape, especially through irrigation systems.

When UGA Extension Agent Rolando Orellana started the position of urban water management agent in the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture a year ago, he and his team realized this was a big need that needed to be addressed.

Orellana formed an advisory committee of industry professionals to get honest input. The committee agreed that irrigation training for urban landscapers is desperately needed.

With $9,800 from an internal UGA Extension Innovation Grant and support from Georgia’s green industry, Orellana developed an irrigation training specifically designed to educate UGA Extension agents in urban areas. Orellana says the program aims to train the agents so they can then help green industry clients and consumers in their counties.

With advice from irrigation professionals across Georgia, Orellana and Center for Urban Agriculture’s Greg Huber compiled tool kits for county agents to use when teaching clients about irrigation usage, management and maintenance. Hunter Industries donated irrigation supplies for the kits and helped train the agents, as did representatives from Rain Bird.

UGA Extension agents received irrigation kits that include fittings and parts for drip and spray irrigation systems, primers, glues, electrical boxes and controllers. County agents were taught a hands-on lesson on how an irrigation system is installed, operated and maintained.

The agents will now teach workshops to golf course managers, sports field managers, landscape installers, landscape managers, groundskeepers, garden curators and others.

In the future, Orellana said he hopes to install an irrigation system demonstration and research site on the UGA Griffin campus that will allow people to see different systems in action.