What is Irrigation Engineering?

The irrigation engineering program at USU has long been recognized as the best program of its kind in the nation and possibly the world. Many of the prominent irrigation engineers in the United States and around the world are graduates of the USU program, and the program’s faculty continues a tradition of leadership in international development projects in several dozen countries across the globe. Projects have been conducted in Latin America, the Caribbean region, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. At USU, irrigation engineering students are exposed to classroom instruction, laboratory work in hydraulics, remote-sensing, and more. They also have the opportunity to conduct field work.

Students may study in the following areas:

  • Integrated Water Management: In this area, students study a broad range of topics related to irrigation, including the use of treated wastewater in irrigation, conjunctive use of surface and ground water, water policy, training tools for improving water management, and many others.
  • Crop Water Requirements: Students studying crop water requirements focus on the evapotranspiration (ET) of agricultural crops and other vegetation based on weather station instrumentation and or lysimeter measurements or flux systems, such as eddy covariance and Bowen ratio. It is important to estimate ET to understand water requirements and to lead to improvements in water management. This sometimes also includes measurements and/or estimations of crop production.
  • Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance: This area focuses on the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems, which sometimes includes organizational development and institutional strengthening of water users' associations. Topics include specific procedures, operational plans, maintenance plans, and irrigation system administration.
  • Remote Sensing and Spatial Apps: This is the application of ground-based, airborne, and satellite remote-sensing technologies with geographical information systems for evapotranspiration estimation, irrigation system mapping, crop identification, crop yield estimation, water balance and efficiency estimations, and many others.
  • On-farm Irrigation Methods: Students will learn to design and evaluate on-farm irrigation methods, including surface (furrows, borders, and basins) and pressurized (sprinkler and micro-irrigation) methods. This may also include other topics, such as pressure regulation, water application uniformity, water filtration, chemigation, and many others.