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    Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saskatchewan has a huge opportunity for growth by expanding irrigation from Lake Diefenbaker. Since 2009, our government has supported irrigation infill in the three largest irrigation districts around the lake and is now extending its support to non-district irrigation development throughout the province. Irrigation increases jobs six-fold over its dryland counterpart and adds over $500/ac/yr to agricultural output.

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  • 340,000 acres total irrigated acres.
  • 100,000 acres backflood (one irrigation at spring flood).
  • 240,000 irrigated acres are "intensive" irrigation, i.e. water is applied based upon crop needs throughout the growing season.
  • 50,000 acres of potential infill within the irrigation districts around Lake Diefenbaker.
  • 500,000 acres of potential irrigation expansion from Lake Diefenbaker (source: Time To Irrigate, SIPA, 2008).


  • Irrigation in Saskatchewan started prior to 1905 with irrigated hay production in the driest part of the province, the southwest, with water sourced in the Cypress Hills.
  • The The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) constructed reservoirs and irrigation projects to rehabilitate the southwest area after the droughts of "the Dirty 30s".
  • PFRA constructed the Gardiner Dam and Lake Diefenbaker in 1967 for some 500,000 acres of irrigation to drought-proof Saskatchewan and provide the "critical mass" to support value-added processing. To date, infrastructure for only 20 per cent of the originally-planned irrigated acres has been constructed.
  • The Lumsden and Moon Lake irrigated areas provide fresh produce for the cities of Regina and Saskatoon. 

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Irrigation Districts

Irrigation districts in Saskatchewan are administered by the Ministry of Agriculture under The Irrigation Act, 1996. Under the act, districts are responsible to cover 100 per cent of their administration, operation, maintenance and replacement costs.

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Irrigation Infill and Expansion from Lake Diefenbaker

  • Potential infill is 50,000 acres within existing irrigation districts.
  • Potential irrigation expansion is 500,000 acres. With this expansion, water consumption would still only be 20 per cent of the average annual inflow into Lake Diefenbaker.

Irrigation Output

  • Irrigation is part of the Ministry's Crop Strategy.
  • Irrigation crop rotations in Saskatchewan are more diversified in yield and quality and are more reliable than dryland crop rotations.
  • Irrigation increases agricultural output over its dryland equivalent in the Lake Diefenbaker Development Area by more than $500 per acre, per year.

 Saskatchewan's irrigation expansion opportunity from Lake Diefenbaker is a major economic growth and investment attraction opportunity for the province and part of the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.

The objective of this study was to measure irrigation water quality parameters that could potentially impact food safety of irrigated crops.

Corn offers significant potential for production on irrigation in Saskatchewan.

The newsletter includes a compilation of articles relating to entomology, plant pathology, weed science, soils and agronomy issues.

PDF (620 KB)

Saskatchewan's climate makes it appealing for irrigation development, as moisture is the main limitation to agriculture in most areas of the province.

Guidelines for designing and operating centre pivot irragation systems.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation Branch, provides technical assistance for irrigation development throughout the province.  One of the areas of technical assistance is for irrigation drainage within irrigation districts.

Since 2009, a total of $19.8 million infill funding has been provided to irrigation districts adding a total of 11,750 acres of infill capacity out of 50,000 acres.

Irrigation research, demonstration and extension in Saskatchewan have been conducted in a co-ordinated fashion under a five-year Canada-Saskatchewan Industry Framework Agreement for Irrigation-Based Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability.

Irrigation scheduling, or irrigation water management, ensures that water is consistently available to the plant and that it is applied according to crop requirements.

The Saskatchewan Irrigation Design and Construction Standards manual provides engineering guidelines needed for the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation district works and individual irrigation projects in Saskatchewan.

The Irrigator is published by the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation (ICDC).

Trickle irrigation, often called drip irrigation, falls under the broader heading of micro-irrigation.

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