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Irrigation

Fall 2013

Water to the Promised Land

As an aquifer declines, farmers hope for water promised 80 years ago.

LAST SUMMER as we stood in the middle of Brad Bailie’s onion fields just north of Connell, the discussion, as discussions seem to do in the Columbia Basin, turned to water.

Bailie ’95 pumps irrigation water from a well drilled down 800 feet. Neighbors have pushed wells down to 2,000 feet. At such depths, the water is often laden with salts and minerals. After a while of irrigating with this water, a crust can form over the soil surface. Farmers must use a variety of means to break up the crust, including … » More …

Fall 2013

First Words for Fall 2013

Uncle Sam took the challenge in the year of ’33

For the farmers and the workers and for all humanity

Now river, you can ramble where the sun sets in the sea

But while you’re rambling, river, you can do some work for me

—Woody Guthrie, “Roll, Columbia, Roll”

In the early 1950s, Washington State College and the Bureau of Reclamation published a Farmer’s Handbook for the Columbia Basin Project. Written for new farmers breaking ground in the newly irrigated Columbia Basin Project, the handbook offered advice on everything from what crops to grow to what kind … » More …

Fall 2006

Building a better treadle pump—one step at a time

The first thing Jeff Evans, a recent graduate in entrepreneurship, did when he started his senior project was to locate Malawi on a map.

He and engineering students Travis Meyer, Kyle Kraemer, and Dan Good have since learned a lot about this African country, third poorest in the world, and developed a treadle pump they hope will make a positive difference for people there. They traveled to Malawi in March to test their product. Working with Peter Wyeth, associate scientist in International Programs, Trent Bunderson, associate director of International Programs, and faculty advisors Denny Davis and Jerman Rose, the team was part of a unique … » More …

Fall 2003

Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the America

This gem of a book is actually about the gem state, Idaho—specifically, the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, where farmers, engineers, lawyers, bankers, and politicians have carved an agricultural landscape out of the parched and dusty sagebrush desert. With deft prose and engaging anecdotes, author Mark Fiege (’85 M.A. Hist.), a professor of history at Colorado State University, systematically traces the 100-year history of the creation and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure that made farming possible in the Snake River plain. Praising it as “an ingenious, intricate, technological system,” Fiege nevertheless offers sober assessments of the economic inefficiencies, ecological losses, engineering foibles, and political … » More …