SPEARMAN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District (GCD)’s Master Irrigator Class of 2022 is expected to graduate Wednesday at the O’Loughlin Center, according to officials with the district.

The Master Irrigator Program was described by the GCD as an interactive program aimed to encourage the adoption of conservation and efficiency practices “by reducing the learning curve through in-class presentations, demonstrations, and peer-to-peer discussion.” The four-day program was spread over four consecutive Wednesdays with a curriculum designed by retired Texas A&M Professor Steve Amosson.

After participants complete their training, according to the GCD, they qualify for up to $10,000 in cost-share funding to put towards the cost of applying conservation practices in their own operations. Those funds are made available through the Texas Water Development Board Agricultural Conservation Grant Program.

“The TWDB has stepped-up to partner with the district on multiple occasions to support programs that are making a difference in conservation,” said general manager Steve Walthour, “Their collaboration now is vital to the continued success of the district’s premier agricultural conservation program.”

According to the GCD, a total of 117 participants have completed the program, representing around 350,000 acres of irrigated land in the North Plains district. Surveys of the graduates reported that 100% adopted at least one of the conservation strategies to be used in their own operations. 87% reported improved water efficiency in the survey, and nearly 59% reported reduced water usage.

Applications for the Master Irrigator Program are being accepted for the class of 2023, according to the GCD.