Published on 04/19/22

UGA-Griffin breaks ground on site to showcase new irrigation technologies

By Ashley N Biles
UGA-Griffin is working with industry to build irrigation demonstration plots that will display ways to handle water-related issues in landscapes, hardscapes and irrigation. Breaking ground on the site are, from left, Dan Suiter, faculty advisory chairman for the Center for Urban Agriculture; Greg Huber, training coordinator for the Center for Urban Agriculture; Rolando Orellana, urban wasterwater management agent for the Center for Urban Agriculture; David Buntin, interim assistant provost and campus director for UGA-Griffin; and Reid Garner, sales manager at Hunter Industries.

Industry professionals, homeowners and researchers will soon be able to get a firsthand look at new irrigation technologies in action at a demonstration irrigation site being constructed on the University of Georgia’s Griffin campus.

On March 28, workers broke ground on the project, a collaboration between the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, UGA Cooperative Extension's Urban Water Management program and irrigation companies Hunter Industries, Rain Bird and Torro/Irritol.

Rolando Orellana, an urban water management agent in the Center for Urban Agriculture, has been working on the project for more than two years and is excited to see progress.

“This site is being developed to be used for training, research and education. It will give us the opportunity to develop Extension educational programs,” said Orellana. “It also gives industries the chance to showcase their new products and show ways to deal with water-related issues in landscapes, hardscapes and irrigation.”

The demonstration site will consist of four 30-by-30-foot plots. Three of the plots will be designated for the investing companies to showcase their latest products and technology. The fourth plot will be used for research by faculty and graduate students at UGA-Griffin. Orellana said the demonstration site is the first of its kind to involve researchers and students as well as the public.

“We are planning to host landscapers, agriculture agents, homeowners and Master Gardeners who have an interest in water efficiency programs,” he said. “It will allow us to show how to troubleshoot issues that may arise and how to achieve water efficiency.”

With 90% of the funding for the site coming from the industries involved — through both monetary and in-kind donations — Orellana said the project is a testament to the relationships UGA has built over the years. The remaining funding is provided by UGA Extension. 

“This program highlights the strong partnerships UGA has with the industry,” said Orellana. “We know urban ag and Extension need to have facilities or training tools to better show off options available to homeowners and irrigation companies. This site will do that.”

Orellana gave credit to those who stewarded the project, including Dan Suiter, chair of the Urban Agriculture Commission, UGA-Griffin Field Research Services and UGA-Griffin Facilities Management Division, as well as industry partners including the Georgia Arborist Association, Georgia Green Industry Association, Hunter Industries, Moreno Landscape, North Georgia Turf, Rain Bird, Rainmaker Irrigation, Toro/Irritrol and the Georgia Urban Ag Council.

The project is expected to be complete before summer 2022.

UGA is a member of a consortium of land-grant institutions in the Southern region of the U.S. committed to finding workable solutions that conserve our natural resources, feed a growing world and improve our quality of living.