History and Mission

Groundbreaking began at UGA's Stripling Irrigation Research Park on November 3, 2000. The 130 acres of land were originally donated to Mitchell County by Mr. C.M. Stripling and in turn, the county leased the land to UGA. Mr. Stripling was a pioneer in the start of modern irrigation farming in Georgia and a national Forester of the Year. His passion and desire to protect our land, water, and plant resources motivated Mr. Stripling to develop the most advanced irrigation feasible for the Dougherty Plain conditions in Georgia.

Farmers and the Economic Development Commission in Mitchell County, with their enthusiasm and support, enabled rapid development of the facility. Today, farmers continue to review research and education at SIRP to help them make the most efficient use of every drop withdrawn from surface and groundwater resources. Farmers are interested in showing non-farm neighbors that they are making wise and effective use of this resource.

Scientists, engineers, and extension specialists collaborate with the staff and administration of the park to define crop water needs and improve food, feed, and fiber production using efficient irrigation methods. Industry partners are able to test equipment and water conservation strategies for Georgia under the objective eye of the College’s researchers. SIRP provides educational opportunities and demonstrations for farmers, irrigation companies, as well as students in local technical colleges and universities.

Agricultural water conservation is at the forefront of topics in southwest Georgia with the increasing frequency of drought periods and increasing water demands throughout the Apalachicola – Chattahoochee – Flint (ACF) River Basin. Thus, the mission of the Stripling Park has included conservation ideals since its inception. With the ongoing “water wars” over water flow and demand in the ACF River Basin, maximizing efficiency and conservation efforts in this region has become a priority.

Aerial of Stripling Park

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Stripling Irrigation Research Park's purpose?

Stripling Park’s mission is to be a state-of-the-art irrigation research and education center to assist farmers in managing irrigation and the general public in understanding the role of water in the economy of the region. The variety of research projects conducted at SIRP either directly or indirectly address that mission. Stripling Park includes 130 acres in western Mitchell County (approximately 3 miles from the Flint River). The Park was located there to host research on soils and weather representative of the southwest corner of Georgia. It has an exceptional irrigation research infrastructure that includes five center pivot systems, three linear-move systems, and subsurface drip irrigation. Five deep wells (4 Floridan aquifer, 1 Claiborne aquifer) provide high quality water to the hundreds of crop research plots across the Park.

How is Stripling Park funded?

Stripling Park core activities are funded with dollars allocated to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences by the state of Georgia. Much of the research conducted at the Park is funded through research grants obtained by the scientists involved. These grants come from a variety of sources, including USDA-ARS, USDA-NRCS, state commodity commissions, private industry, etc. Stripling Park also uses proceeds from crop sales to provide much needed operating funds.

How large is the facility?

Stripling Park covers approximately 130 acres with around 75 acres in actual research plots. Some research plots may be only 2 rows by 40 feet while others may cover nearly an acre. Five full-time employees (Superintendent, Sr. Ag Specialist, two Ag Specialists, and Administrative Associate) and one part-time employee (Utility Worker/custodian) work year-round at Striping Park. Scientists, their support staff, and graduate students from other locations (like UGA at Tifton, Athens, or Griffin) are often on-site to work in their respective plots.

What research is conducted here?

Using the Irrigation Park’s land and equipment as a focal point of their efforts, scientists, engineers, extension specialists, and staff collaborate to define crop water needs, improve food, feed and fiber production under irrigation, investigate effectiveness of chemigation/fertigation, and find more efficient ways to apply irrigation water. Industry partners are able to test equipment and water conservation strategies for Georgia under the objective eye of the UGA’s researchers. Several key water conservation tools and techniques “researched” at Stripling Park include advanced irrigation scheduling, Variable-Rate Irrigation (VRI), subsurface drip irrigation, and low pressure spray nozzle on drop hose retrofits.

How many projects and scientists are involved?

The number of scientists and their projects at SIRP varies from year to year. During an average growing season, there are about a dozen scientists involved in many unique research projects.

What crops are studied at SIRP?

Crops being studied at SIRP include cotton, corn, peanut, and soybean. Occasionally, other crops are studied, including sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and onions. Though not studied directly at the Park, SIRP’s outreach efforts have included irrigated pecan production.

How is irrigation scheduled at SIRP?

SIRP uses advanced irrigation scheduling methods such as remote soil moisture monitoring, water balance methods (UGA Extension “checkbook”), and the UGA EASY pan. These scheduling methods are often used in conjunction with scientists’ research protocols.

Do only UGA scientists conduct research projects at SIRP?

The majority of scientists working at Stripling Park are University of Georgia research and/or extension faculty. However, we are always open to collaborating with our colleagues from neighboring universities and the USDA on appropriate irrigation research projects. In the past, SIRP has worked with faculty from University of West Georgia, University of Florida and Auburn University as well as scientists from USDA-ARS and USDA-NRCS.

Can private industry have research projects at SIRP?

Since SIRP is a state-funded entity, we make a special effort to accommodate UGA scientists (along with other university plus USDA scientists) and their projects. Occasionally, we have plot land that is not allocated to these scientists and are able to work with industry researchers on a case-by-case basis.

How can I arrange a visit or tour of SIRP?

To arrange a visit, send an email to sirp@uga.edu with dates and times of the potential visit or tour, and we will be sure to accommodate you. Additionally, you could include how many people will be visiting and what you are interested in learning more about here at the park.

COVID-19 INFO: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are greatly limiting visitors to the Park. Please contact us prior to visiting our facility.

Do you have meeting facilities and can SIRP host my group’s meeting?

SIRP has a conference room with projector capabilities as well as an outdoor shelter area that provides an additional covered area for seating. The conference room can comfortably accommodate small groups or groups of up to 60 individuals. SIRP is able to host most groups’ meetings provided that they do not conflict with any pre-established event occurring at SIRP.

Note that Stripling Park does not offer food service but can assist you with arranging for catering of meals.

COVID-19 INFO: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are greatly limiting visitors to the Park. Please contact us prior to visiting our facility.

What are the Park’s operating hours?

The Park is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM and closed during all major holidays.