Subsurface Irrigation Efficiency Project (SIEP) – On a 165-acre parcel of land in Weld County, donated by 70 Ranch, LLC, scientists from Colorado State University examine, using subsurface drip irrigation on crops commonly grown in Colorado, the impact of drought-like situations on crops irrigated with subsurface irrigation systems. Dubbed the Subsurface Irrigation Efficiency Project (SIEP), the research station is sponsored by the Platte River Water Development Authority, United Water and Sanitation District, Netafim, Jewish Colorado, Colorado State University and 70 Ranch, LLC.
SIEP is the brainchild of Bob Lembke, owner of the 70 Ranch. "Water policy in Colorado is often based on an either-or premise, adequate water is available for either agriculture or municipalities, but not for both. We want to break that paradigm," said Lembke. The idea for a major study of subsurface irrigation in Colorado came to Lembke several years ago when he was touring farms in Israel's Negev Desert. "Subsurface irrigation was pioneered in the Negev and is credited with turning part of that desert into bountiful farming operations. Subsurface irrigation is not a miracle cure for Colorado's water challenges, but it could give us another way to alleviate the agriculture versus urban conflict."
Construction for the SIEP pump and well house completed in March, 2015. The first crop - sorghum sudangrass - was harvested in August, 2015. Currently, the project is studying the effects of subsurface drip irrigation on Alfalfa.
Additional information on the project is available at www.siepwater.com.