Maine Grower Uses EQIP Funds to Save Water
Maine potato grower Keith Labrie is a leader in the potato industry and a strong believer in resource conservation practices on his land. That’s why he’s working with his local Zimmatic by Lindsay dealer and the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in converting to more efficient irrigation practices on his farm.
Labrie recently applied for and was granted funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to convert from hose reel traveler irrigation to more efficient pivot irrigation. EQIP assists agricultural producers to address resource concerns associated with their agricultural operation, including irrigation efficiency.
“The Maine potato industry has worked for additional EQIP funding in the state to increase efficiencies in water use,” Labrie says. “It’s a great program and a win-win for everyone.”
With the EQIP cost-share funding, Labrie was able to make hardware and underground piping changes that allowed him to convert a hose wheel traveler irrigation system to a Zimmatic center pivot.
“We have seen immediate water savings and other efficiencies as a result of the conversion. With drop nozzles and low pressure sprinklers on the pivot, the water efficiency has increased substantially.”
Mike Bragdon, Zimmatic sales representative with MPG Truck and Tractor in Maine, is working with Labrie and other Maine potato growers to increase their knowledge and awareness of the EQIP conservation program.
MPG is a grower-owned cooperative and Bragdon says it seems natural that the Zimmatic dealership should be helping to educate growers about EQIP and programs to conserve water.
“We are working to get the word out to farmers and helping them understand how to apply for funding,” Bragdon says. “MPG is an advocate for farmers and it makes sense for us to advocate for efficient irrigation.”
Bragdon says many growers are still using hose reel traveler irrigation.
“The technology is old and water runs off at the ends of the field. There are newer irrigation technologies out there that are much more efficient and don’t waste water.”
Maine Potato Industry Changing to Pivot Irrigation
Maine is the fifth largest potato growing state in the nation.
Tim Hobbs with the Maine Potato Board says the potato industry has a multi-million-dollar impact on the state’s economy so it’s important to make sure growers in his state remain as efficient and competitive as possible in growing potatoes.
Hobbs says a recent Maine Potato Board survey showed most growers with hose reel traveler irrigation systems wanted to change to pivot irrigation.
“Mike has been a great advocate and educational resource on EQIP and efficient irrigation,” Hobbs says. “Supplemental, efficient irrigation is critical to maintaining a consistent, quality supply of potatoes for the processors in our area.”
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