What is Stripling Irrigation Research Park and why is it in Mitchell County, GA?

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, two linear-move systems, surface drip irrigation, and now subsurface drip irrigation. Three deep wells 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 Stripling Park and how many employees?

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. Four full-time employees (Superintendent, Sr. Ag Specialist, Ag Specialist, 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 Tifton, Athens, or Griffin) are often on-site to work in their respective plots.

What is actually “researched” at SIRP?

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, 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 the 2013 growing season, there were 11 scientists involved in 27 research projects.

What crops are studied at SIRP?

Crops being studied at SIRP include cotton, corn, peanut, sweet corn, tomatoes, and soybean. Though not studied directly at the Park, SIRP’s outreach efforts involve irrigated pecan production.

How is irrigation scheduled at SIRP?

SIRP uses advanced irrigation scheduling methods such as remote soil moisture monitoring, water balance methods (checkbook), and the EASY pan.

Do only UGA scientists conduct research projects at SIRP?

The majority of scientists working at Stripling Park are University of Georgia faculty. However, we are always open to collaborating with our colleagues from neighboring universities and the USDA on appropriate irrigation research projects. In 2013, SIRP worked with faculty from University of West Georgia, University of Florida and Auburn University.

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.

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.

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.