The Brainiacs

Showcasing the people behind smart irrigation

Published online: Jun 25, 2020 Feature Jon Topham
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This article appears in the July 2020 issue of Potato Grower.

We can all agree that it is an understatement to say that 2020 hasn’t gone as planned. Every country, every industry and every person has been affected in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture, and specifically the potato industry, have not been immune and have been forced to weather the ups and downs of forced closures, changes in consumer practices, supply chain challenges and a contracting economy.

However, although people have possibly changed where they are eating, they are still eating, which means the ag production industry can’t slow down or let obstacles get in the way. It is important now more than ever that efficient practices—such as efficient irrigation—be utilized to make the most effective use of natural resources and to allow farmers to be as productive and cost-efficient as possible.

The Irrigation Association’s Smart Irrigation Month—celebrated every July—is a perfect opportunity to promote the importance and value of smart irrigation practices. The benefits of smart irrigation are all around us—in the french fries we enjoy, the fresh air we breathe, and the yards and green spaces we are spending most of our time in these days. Smart irrigation practices allow us to continue to experience these joys and necessities of life without wasting one of our nation’s most precious resources: water.

Celebrating the People behind Irrigation

This year, the IA is focusing on the people behind smart irrigation, celebrating the professionals who make our industry great. Now is the perfect time to do this, as our country has a renewed focus on celebrating those working hard behind the scenes to keep us safe, healthy and well-fed during a challenging time.

The irrigation industry is remarkably diverse, including growers, engineers, technicians, designers, contractors, salespeople, scientists, installers, researchers and consultants, among many others. The “people behind irrigation” theme celebrates those who shape the industry every day, while also showcasing the opportunities available to the next generation of career-seekers.

Be a Smart Irrigation Leader

Although our world is operating under limitations and concerns related to the COVID-19 virus, we are still celebrating Smart Irrigation Month in multiple ways. We invite you to join us by:

  • Showing your colors on Technology Tuesday. Wear blue on July 7 in solidarity with irrigation professionals across the globe. Make sure to snap a photo, post it on social media and tag #smartirrigationmonth.
  • Sharing your story. Tell us what smart irrigation means to you, how you have used smart irrigation, or how you have promoted the benefits and impact of efficient irrigation in your operation or with your customers and others. Go to and click on “Share Your Story.” You may even see yourself on our social media or the pages of our magazines.
  • Engaging on social media. Marking the theme of people behind irrigation, highlight members of your team and the work they do on your social media channels. Go to to find Smart Irrigation Month resources you can use to post. Consider changing your social media cover photos to smart irrigation-themed images during the month. Share video clips and photos of irrigation in the field.
  • Engaging in traditional media. We may not think of ourselves as experts, but consider how much knowledge our industry has related to water management, agriculture and technology and where these sectors are headed. Ours is an important voice in global discussions on these topics, and we must embrace that. Draft an op-ed or submit a letter to the editor for a local publication. Highlight an innovative project or product through a local news segment. Highlight how the irrigation industry can help address challenges like water scarcity while supporting the vital benefits of agriculture.
  • Integrating business initiatives with Smart Irrigation Month. Announce a new product, service or technology in July. Offer a discount on efficient irrigation products for the month. Market efficient irrigation products along with the Smart Irrigation Month logo. Include a flyer highlighting irrigation best practices and tips with every sale in July.
  • Becoming an advocate. When it becomes possible again, engage with your local government by inviting them on a site visit of your facility or operation. Visit government officials in their local offices to discuss policies that support efficient irrigation.

Thank you for joining us in promoting the importance of efficient irrigation practices and celebrating the people behind smart irrigation. While Smart Irrigation Month offers an opportunity for us to spread our message, we must aim to engage the public, advocate for our industry and celebrate what we do throughout the year. For more ways to celebrate Smart Irrigation Month, visit

Author Jon Topham currently serves as president of the Irrigation Association. He is a certified agricultural irrigation specialist, certified irrigation designer, and chief operating officer of Irrigation Design & Construction, LLC.