Studies & Degrees in Irrigation

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Are you a student who is considering earning either an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor of Science Degree in the interesting field of irrigation?  Have you researched the various degree options available to you and what they entail?  Irrigation is a very important field of study, one that teaches students the methods and principles behind water architecture.  Planning, developing, managing and evaluating irrigation systems for natural and man-made habitats are the primary skills students will learn while pursuing one of these degrees—degrees that are now being offered by colleges and universities throughout the world.  Below we will take a closer look at two of these degree programs:  the Associate’s Degree in Irrigation Technology and the Bachelor of Science Degree in Irrigation Engineering, providing a brief description of each of these programs.
Associate’s Degree in Irrigation Technology
The Associate of Applied Science in Irrigation Technology is a two-year program that is typically offered by junior and community colleges.  The program involves both classroom lecture sessions and practical outdoor experiences in which students gain valuable insight into the agricultural and turf industries.  Graduates of this program will acquire valuable knowledge and skills related to the various irrigation practices, water and energy consumption rules and the variety of installation methods for irrigation programs.  Students will learn skills such as basic electricity, motor control, and irrigation control wiring, and will use technology regularly during the program as a way to aid them in the analysis and understanding of the relationships between water and communities.
To be eligible to participate in the Associate of Applied Science Degree program in Irrigation Technology students must possess at least a high school diploma or its equivalent and remain in good standing with the junior or community college throughout the duration of the program.
The Bachelor of Science in Irrigation Engineering
The Bachelor of Science degree in Irrigation Engineering is an undergraduate-level program that typically spans three to four years depending on the institution.  The course involves both core and elective courses, along with the general education classes required by the college or university.  Some of the topics and areas of study the program covers include:
  • Integrated Water Management.  This course focuses on the use of treated wastewater in irrigation, concurrent use of surface and ground water, water laws and policy, training tools for improving water management, and others.
  • Crop Water Requirements.  Students studying crop water requirements will typically focus on the evaporation-transpiration (ET) of agricultural crops and other vegetation based on weather station instrumentation and or flux systems, such as eddy covariance and Bowen ratio. It is important to estimate ET to understand water requirements and to lead to improvements in water management. This sometimes also includes measurements and/or estimations of crop production.
  • Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance. This area of study centers around the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems, which sometimes includes organizational development and institutional strengthening of water users' associations. Topics include specific procedures, operational plans, maintenance plans, and irrigation system administration.
  • On-farm Irrigation Methods. Students will learn to design and evaluate on-farm irrigation methods, including surface (furrows, borders, and basins) and pressurized (sprinkler and micro-irrigation) methods. This may also include other topics, such as pressure regulation, water application uniformity, and water filtration.
To be eligible to participate in the Bachelor of Science degree program in Irrigation Engineering students must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and maintain a 2.5 grade point average or better in all coursework.  Many institutions may also require students to take and earn a passing score on an entrance examination prior to admission.