Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC)
The Irrigation Training & Research Center was established in 1989 at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, as a center of excellence, building on a history of contributions to the irrigation industry. The first commitment of ITRC is to enhance Cal Poly`s strong irrigation teaching program through outside activities in training, research, and technical support. As our motto says, we are `moving water in new directions.` Cal Poly and ITRC are proud of their ability to combine sophisticated theory with a `hands-on` approach to provide a usable product. Many of the educational services that ITRC provides are made possible by our supporters and their generous donations of services, equipment, and funds.
ITRC is a center of excellence housed within the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering (BRAE) Department of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo. The linkage to the BRAE Department is unique among irrigation centers - ITRC's organization was specifically developed as such to ensure long-term positive benefits to Cal Poly's academic irrigation teaching program - which provides long-term benefits to California and the nation.
Cal Poly has a long tradition of providing pragmatic irrigation training and technical expertise to industry, farmers, irrigation districts, and state/federal agencies. ITRC was officially formed in 1989, and continues to be self-supporting through contracts. Its work is approximately 65% direct technical assistance, 15% training, and 20% research (both applied government-funded, and industry). Focus areas include:
- Irrigation projects (irrigation district modernization, water balances, river basin return flow issues, SCADA, canal automation, pump automation, flow measurement, energy consumption, and efficiency);
- Farm irrigation (drip, surface, and sprinkler irrigation; drainage; salinity; energy consumption; irrigation evaluations; evapotranspiration; pumps);
- Landscape (primarily development of urban water conservation programs).
ITRC's modern engineering offices, in addition to providing professional resources for ITRC staff, also house two training rooms and office space for both graduate and undergraduate students. Outdoors is the unique Water Resources Facility to demonstrate pumps, pump testing, flow measurement, SCADA, and canal automation. Additionally, the outdoor Irrigation Practices Field contains a complete assortment of on-farm and landscape irrigation systems and equipment.
The center is run by Dr. Charles Burt (Chairman and Founder) and Dr. Stuart Styles (Director) - both recognized internationally as irrigation experts - with an excellent professional staff of 13 persons. Additionally, 15-25 students are hired at any one time to provide support. ITRC utilizes specialists from within and outside the university to provide additional expertise. As an example, ITRC has worked for several years with an international team to develop sophisticated canal automation algorithms.
ITRC is active throughout the western U.S. and the world in irrigation research, technical assistance, and environmental/energy assessments. For example:
- ITRC has numerous active irrigation district modernization projects throughout California, as well as in Washington, northern Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and Oklahoma. Most involve some aspect of energy conservation or environmental improvement while simultaneously modernizing irrigation districts.
- The World Bank, FAO/UN, UNDP, and others fund ITRC to provide expertise on irrigation modernization in China, Philippines, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and many other countries.
- Manufacturers hire ITRC for a wide variety of projects ranging from testing of polymers in irrigation on field trials, to determining friction on large diameter pipes, to examining the performance of new sprinklers and drip tape under both field and laboratory conditions.
- ITRC has been a major innovator in water-related peak load reduction and electrical energy conservation for the California Energy Commission, utilities, and others.
- ITRC actively participates in various water-related technical sessions and workshops of professional organizations such as the US Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.