Colorado is embarking on a federally backed $3.4 million experiment to transform the flood irrigation farmers use to grow crops: tapping diverted water more efficiently and generating electricity.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off the "small hydropower" project Monday in Denver and announced $235 million in new federal grants nationwide to spur innovation around water, soil and drought.
The Colorado experiment aims to pressurize flows of agricultural water, producing hydro-power, and then deliver water more precisely to crops using sprinklers. If successful, this is envisioned as a way to help reduce the 85 percent share of water required to sustain agriculture in semi-arid Colorado and other western states.
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