Drip Irrigation Leader named ‘Agriculturalist of the Year’

Source: The Argus Observer

ONTARIO — Jim Klauzer did not start out working with drip irrigation. But that has been his focus since 2000, when he joined Clearwater Supply which sells and designs drip systems.

Prior to that, Klauzer was a research agronomist for a variety of pesticide makers. The last pesticide company he worked for was having a merger and wanted Klauzer to move to Georgia or Alabama.

A sales agronomist, Klauzer decided he wanted to stay in the Treasure Valley and responded to an ad for the position with Clearwater Supply.

Drip Irrigation Leader named Agriculturalist of the Year

Jim Klauzer, shows stacks of drip tape stored ahead of the next irrigation season at Clearwater supply in Ontario. Klauzer is the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculturalist of the Year.

“I determined this is the best place to be,” he said.

Klauzer is being honored as the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculturalist of the Year at its annual banquet Jan. 13 at the Four Rivers Cultural Center, starting at 7 p.m.

Others being honored include Bill Carter, man of the year; Jane Padgett, woman of the year; Blackaby Insurance Agency, business of the year; and Robin Jackson, educator of the year.

Besides being able to stay in the Treasure Valley and enjoying working with farmers, Klauzer said, drip irrigation provided a way to keep him on the cutting edge of agriculture.

“Drip irrigation was a natural step,” in his career, he said.

However, Klauzer was no stranger to drip irrigation as he had managed a research farm which had greenhouses that used drip irrigation, he said.

The crop-watering methodology was already being adopted in other states, such as California, but was still being introduced in this area, Klauzer said.

He mentioned that Clint Shock, director of Malheur Experiment Station, has been doing research on drip irrigation and its best uses since the 1990s.

When Klauzer started at Clearwater, only about 3 percent of the onion fields in the Treasure Valley were under drip irrigation. Now, drip irrigation accounts for the watering of about 65 percent of the onions in our area, Klauzer said.

Drip irrigation is also being used for other crops, such as hops, mint and various seeds.

“We work closely with the experiment station,” he said, noting it was excellent working with the station in addressing such issues as water quality.

Klauzer jokes that Clearwater Supply is Shock’s sales department, effectively commercializing his research.

Klauzer said there are many advantages to drip irrigation, from fewer weeds to less direct contact with chemicals.

In addition to providing a more precise delivery of water, drip irrigation allows for more direct and precise inputs for fertilizers and chemical applications, which among other things, provides fewer weed problems than with furrow irrigation, Klauzer said.

That direct application through the drip tapes also provides for less exposure to chemicals by workers, he noted.

Besides working with farmers on planning drip irrigation systems, Klauzer also consults with them on moisture monitoring and irrigation scheduling.

“It’s been a challenge,” Klauzer said, but he has enjoyed seeing how the watering methodology has grown. “It still has a long way to go.”

Most growers are willing to voluntarily make the improvements they need, such as drip irrigation, Klauzer said.

“I’m proud of them for that,” he said.

In addition to agriculture, Klauzer enjoys tinkering with his collection of classic 1950s trucks, often in the winter time, which is likely occupying a good chunk of his time right now.

Klauzer is married, and said his wife, Lyn, “is one of my strengths.”

Article by Larry Meyer via  The Argus Observer

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