BMCC’s Precision Irrigated Ag Center Highlighted at Hermiston Farm Fair

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The annual Hermiston Farm Fair continues today at the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center. (Photos: Michael Kane)

The 45th annual Hermiston Farm Fair continues today with a full slate of sessions as well as a banquet tonight.

The annual event got under way on Wednesday at the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center (EOTEC). The afternoon featured a session on the Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) Precision Irrigated Agriculture Program.

Blue Mountain Community College’s Drew Leggett talks about the college’s Precision Irrigated Agriculture Program.

The session was presented by Drew Leggett. Leggett – a BMCC graduate – began teaching at BMCC earlier this fall at the new Precision Irrigated Agriculture Center on the campus of the Oregon State University Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center. The center opened in July 2017.

Leggett said the importance of precision irrigated ag comes from the simple fact that they aren’t making any more water – nor land – and it’s critical for farmers to make the most of what they have.

Leggett said he has to explain to lay people just what precision irrigated ag really is.

“I kind of get blank stares when I talk about it,” he said on Wednesday.

Precision irrigated agriculture utilizes technology like GPS, GIS, infrared and automated sensors to help reduce production costs, and improve yields, making agriculture easier, more accurate and more profitable.

Or, as Leggett simplified it: “It’s about growing more with less.”

That means using less water, less nutrients, less chemicals and less time to get bigger yields and hopefully bigger profits.

Leggett said the word precision is key in that it means hitting the target repeatedly. Precision irrigated ag allows farmers to apply different amounts of water, chemicals and nutrients throughout their acreage depending upon a crop’s needs. Kind of the opposite of a one-size-fits-all method.

“It’s getting the right amount of water in the right spot every time,” he said.

Leggett said the new program has been a hit with students. He said they enjoy getting out of the classroom and onto the fields for hands-on instruction. Leggett said it’s one thing to hear a presentation in class, but another thing altogether to see it applied on the farm.

Today’s Farm Fair sessions continue to about 5 p.m. at EOTEC. The banquet is set for 6 p.m. at the Hermiston Community Center with tickets costing $30 each.

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