Cranfield University and UK Irrigation Association win international irrigation award for UK agriculture

Experts from Cranfield University's Centre for Water Science and the UK Irrigation Association have won the prestigious WatSave 2010 Technology Award from the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) for their research and promotion of on-farm reservoirs in the UK.

The annual ICID WatSave Awards recognise outstanding contributions to water conservation or water saving.

The winning project, undertaken by Dr Keith Weatherhead and Dr Jerry Knox of Cranfield's Centre for Water Science, and Dr Melvyn Kay, Executive Secretary of the UK Irrigation Association, promoted the use of on-farm reservoirs to conserve surplus winter water for use in summer droughts, saving the summer water for other uses, including the environment.

The judges noted that though this was not a new technology, "its application here, by water professionals campaigning for farmers to invest in storage on their own land was worthy of award. The construction of on-farm reservoirs [in the UK] has provided the water security essential to achieve timely production of high quality food that reduces water wastage from field to plate".

The team researched the wide range of problems that UK farmers face in constructing reservoirs, and developed guidelines to help 'from concept to commissioning'. The resulting information booklet, "Thinking about an irrigation reservoir?", was delivered to 2500 farmers and agri-businesses and followed by a successful one-day UKIA national conference, training courses and farm reservoir visits.

The research was funded by the Environment Agency and supported by the UK Irrigation Association, the East of England Development Agency, Natural England, the National Farmers Union, the Country and Land and Business Association and numerous individual UKIA members.

The information booklet can be downloaded from

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