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Abstract

This paper focuses on providing sustainable irrigation opportunities to socially and historically disadvantaged farmers (SHDFs). The ability to provide steady production capacity through the use of renewable energy sources and microirrigation is innovative, in that it demonstrated how to develop and utilize a sustainable irrigation system in both energy and water conservation. This venture is also innovative in that it sought to provide SHDFs with irrigation in a state in which irrigation in agriculture is minimal, while at the same time, offsetting the energy costs that normally accompany irrigation. Several farmers are profiled in their participation in the irrigation program. The lessons learned will provide a starting point for a more permanent research, educational, and outreach partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and SHDF clientele. This relationship will lead to further strengthening the relationships between Tuskegee University and both participating farmers and USDA agencies.

Key Words: Irrigation, Small Farmers, Agricultural Sustainability, Solar Energy, Black Belt