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Implementing an agricultural water conservation innovation among the urban public: an analysis of the pilot study phase of the San Antonio Evapotranspiration Project--a cooperative effort between the Texas Agricultural Extension Service--Bexar County Offices, Bexar County Master Gardeners, San Antonio Water Systems and Texas A&M University
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Increasing urbanization in this country continues to present many challenges and opportunities to education and research institutions, agribusiness, and public and private service agencies. These challenges have propelled the invention of countless innovations which, though perhaps originally intended for addressing rural agricultural dilemmas, eventually are transferred into the urban context to address different problems. One such technological innovation, which was originally aimed at addressing a rural agronomic problem, is being put to use in a creative manner in an urban setting. This innovation, first used to determine-nine accurate soil moisture need for semi-arid land crops, is potential-evapotranspiration (PET) data based irrigation scheduling. Allocation of water resources is an environmental issue that has become a regular element in immediate and long-term program agendas of organizations concerned with the future sutainability of agriculture in Bexar county. There is some argument about the wisest uses of it. Most agree, though, and regional studies are supportive, that one of the uses, turf irrigation, without a doubt needs to be managed more wisely. It is estimated that 40% of the municipal water is used to irrigate turf in the summer in San Antonio. Presently, recommendations for efficient application of water to turf, though specific and descriptive, rely ultimately upon the subjective evaluation of the irrigator. There are many lawn watering philosophies, most of which are not water efficient. Each turf variety has different water requirements. There is a profound need for taking the guesswork out of irrigating lawns. The Bexar County Office of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service actively promotes environmental stewardship" in its educational programs (Highlights, 1996). In Bexar County, one important aspect of sound environmental stewardship is to promote water conservation. One way this agency is currently carrying out this particular part of its mission is through a project that uses the evapotranpiration data technology mentioned above and promotes better understanding and application of water conservation measures in urban lawn irrigation practices. The project is a cooperative effort between San Antonio Water System (SAWS), The Texas Agricultural Extension Service in Bexar County, Texas A&M University (Department of Agricultural engineering), and the Bexar County Master Gardeners, Inc. Part of the overall project is a pilot study being conducted to test the best way of applying this water conservation method to irrigate lawns. Participants in this pilot study are residents of San Antonio and the surrounding area who have agreed to follow certain watering and lawncare protocol instructions, in exchange for free lawn fertilizer for the duration of participation, and priority status with Extension Agents when lawncare questions arise. There are many challenges that the project staff and participants must face in implementing this study if it is to be successful and provide adequate data to convince the general public to adopt this innovation. Conclusions regarding the nature and effectiveness of the project include that excellent communication between staff and participants, teamwork among staff and participant leaders, and a knowledge of the principles behind the adoption process during the remainder of the pilot study phase are essential to success of latter phases and effective adoption of this water conservation method on a larger scale. Reactions by participants, who have been involved in the implemetation of this pilot study to date, are encouraging. The positive consequences so far of educating and enabling only a very small group of citizens may indicate the potentially huge impact this project could have on large scale water conservation in Bexar County. iii
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Includes bibliographical references: p. 28-29.
Reilly, Laura Lynne (1998). Implementing an agricultural water conservation innovation among the urban public: an analysis of the pilot study phase of the San Antonio Evapotranspiration Project--a cooperative effort between the Texas Agricultural Extension Service--Bexar County Offices, Bexar County Master Gardeners, San Antonio Water Systems and Texas A&M University. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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