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NEWS | Jan. 4, 2010

Iowa National Guard repairs irrigation system in Chowkay

By Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn 734th Agribusiness Development Team

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team repaired a vital irrigation system at the Chowkay District demonstration farm in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province on Jan 2.

ADT members also helped prepare the farm’s greenhouse for winter vegetable planting.

Mashuqallah, the Chowkay District Agriculture Extension manager, explained the urgent nature of the repairs. He also praised the ADT for moving to address the problem quickly.

“We haven’t had rain for months now, and if the irrigation pipes are broken, we have no water and cannot grow anything,” Mashuqallah said. “It is very good that the ADT came right away when I told them about this.”

The ADT’s hydrologist is Army Master Sgt. Steve Holding of Janesville, Iowa. He pointed to the low quality of the original materials as the main reason for the irrigation line break.

“I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but the T-joint the pipe to the greenhouse fits into just failed structurally, so we made sure we had good materials when we came out to fix this,” Holding said. “It really wasn’t too difficult; we just had to get our hands dirty a little.”

Although Mashuqallah was pleased by the ADT’s swift response, he was still not satisfied with the status of the current irrigation system.

He pointed out drip irrigation would be ideal for the greenhouse, which the ADT underwrote and a team led by Mashuqallah built in November. He also discussed exactly how he planned to utilize such a system.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Bennett Groth of Moville, Iowa, a production agriculture specialist, assured Mashuqallah that drip irrigation for the greenhouse was next on the ADT’s agenda for the Chowkay demo farm. Groth also expressed admiration for Mashuqallah’s expertise.

“Drip irrigation for the greenhouse has always been part of the plan, and Mashuqallah’s got a good grasp on what it can do for his vegetable production here,” Groth said. “He’s a very smart guy.”