A number of leading irrigation and water management experts will be featured at the 9th Lower Rio Grande Irrigation Conference and Trade Show Oct. 26 at the Rio Grande Valley Showgrounds in Mercedes, along with irrigation company representatives showing the latest in irrigation technologies, according to organizers.
In addition, a panel session is being held on how irrigated agriculture is affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act, which establishes quality standards and reporting for irrigation water. The panel includes Richard De Los Santos, produce safety director, Texas Department of Agriculture, Austin, whose office is charged with enforcing this act in Texas.
It also includes Roger Miranda, geoscientist, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, who will answer the question: What do we know about the water quality of the Rio Grande?
From current to future water supply needs, as well as long-term water supply strategies, program organizers say this conference is will be highly attended due to its broad topical areas affecting both agriculture and municipal water needs.
“This conference not only addresses current water issues and management affecting South Texas, but also gives attendees a look at cutting-edge technology,” said Dr. Guy Fipps, professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in College Station.
The conference is held on average only once every three years, Fipps said. It is sponsored by AgriLife Extension, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Water District Managers Association and the Texas Agricultural Irrigation Association. Financial support is provided by the Texas Water Development Board through their conservation grants program.
The conference will lead off with Jose Luna, Rio Grande watermaster with the TCEQ/Rio Grande Watermaster Office in Harlingen, who will present information on the current and projected 2018 Water Supply. That will be followed by Long Term Water Supply Strategies for the Rio Grande Region by Tomas Rodriquez, chair of the Region M water planning group of McAllen.
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A 2018 and beyond climate and rainfall outlook will be presented by Barry Goldsmith, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist in Brownsville.
Unmanned aerial vehicles will also be discussed at the conference. Research Update: Droned-based System for Leak Detection in Canals and Pipelines will be presented by Fipps, while Drones for On-Farm Management: What is the State-of-the-Art of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems will be presented by Dr. Alex Thomasson, professor and cotton engineering chair in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station.
A panel of speakers will also discuss financial and technical assistance programs. The afternoon session on irrigation technology and know-how will include a presentation on the latest developments in wireless sensor networks and control systems for irrigation.
Manufacturers’ representatives will take part in a panel on new products. The trade show will feature 12-15 exhibitors representing drip irrigation, surge valves, poly pipe and soil moisture sensor manufacturers.