The kick-off teleconference of the EIA work group Training and Knowledge transfer took place on 20 May 2021.

The starting work group team includes Rafael Diaz (Riego Turf, Spain), Joao Florido (Norma Group / Irrigation, Spain), Ramunas Rederis (Laistymas, Lithuania), Rob Hoogeven (Certified Irrigation Designs Inc., Netherlands), Paul Van Breda (VBS Irrigatiesystemen, Belgium), with Damir Čizmek (In-Aqua, Croatia) as the group leader.

The discussion started with reviewing the history of EIA involvement in education and certification of irrigation professionals and the lessons learned over more than two decades of providing training courses and CLIA (Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor) training and certification.It was acknowledged that knowledge transfer to irrigation professionals remains among the most important roles of the association, especially at the time of increased demand for wider adoption of advanced technologies for irrigation water conservation.

Several possible models for EIA training and knowledge transfer were outlined as manageable, and willbe further discussed and developed into action plan.

Tailored courses provided by EIA members

The model would facilitate the transfer of enormous knowledge available at EIA members through a series of tailored online and sit courses to be specifically developed for EIA. The working group will propose priority training topics, outline the objectives for each course, and will also develop the guidelines for preparing educational courses purged from any commercial content and direct brand references.

Special courses with affiliates

This model anticipates training courses in specific areas such as:irrigation with reclaimed water, soil and weather sensing technologies, basics of pumping and filtration systems, and similar.The courses would have to be prepared by affiliate associations and experts, under the guidance of the work group members.

EIA training and certification courses

All working group members agree the EIA should work towards developing its’ own capacity for training and certification in fundamental irrigation professional skillssuch as design, installation, operation, and irrigation system audit.However, this model faces many challengesofvarying national certification requirements,availability of trainers for multiple languages andmany other, and will require considerable budgetary provisions for development of training materials. The model of Irrigation Proficiency Challenge, with multiple choice test in basic irrigation skills (tested at Paysalia show in 2019),will be further discussed as seemingly the most manageable model in the short term.

Networking with national training providers

The EIA should work towards developing contacts with national providers of irrigation training. In future it may be beneficial to aim at organizing an international forum event with topics covering the development of competences of irrigation professionals.

Except for the above opportunities in training and certification, the group acknowledged animportant role of the EIA in dissemination of various irrigation research reports and public funded project reports to EIA members and wider professional irrigation community.

Next meeting of the working group is scheduled for mid-July and will focus on defining the priorities and developing action plan for 2021 and 2022.

EIA members interested in contributing to the working group Training and Knowledge Transfer are most welcome to contact EIA communication Officer Fleur Martin at communication@irrigationeurope.eu.