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New irrigation system for CIMMYT’s Obregón research station

October 17, 2008

The National Water Commission of Mexico (CNA) recently approved a proposal to install a new irrigation system at the center’s experimental station near Ciudad Obregón, northwestern Mexico. The CNA will finance half of the MXN 4,216,850 (about U$330,000) project and Patronato, the Agricultural Research and Experimentation Board of the State of Sonora (a group of private farmers) will fund the rest. The new irrigation system will be installed by the end of October.

“The replacement of the underground irrigation system at our research station was a high priority,” says Rodrigo Rascón, Obregón station superintendent. “Some of the pipes are over 30 years old, and there are many leaks that are difficult and expensive to repair. This deteriorated infrastructure represents a constant threat to our research activities, particularly those related to drought or supplementary irrigation.”

The pipes are over five km long and most are made of cement with junctures every 90 cm. On multiple occasions, it has been necessary to make regular unlined canals that carry irrigation water on the soil surface, according to Rascón. Unfortunately, these lead to water losses in infiltration and evaporation, and recurring costs associated with maintenance, he says. Water leaches down into the soil from the unlined canals, and the sun also evaporates part of the water that runs through them.

CIMMYT’s Obregón station is located on Patronato’s land in the Yaqui Valley. Patronato allows the center to use 170 hectares of land for research that generates advanced wheat germplasm for the world. Thanks to both the CNA and Patronato for their generous support for the new irrigation system!