If you had any doubts about how important irrigation has become in the Mississippi Delta, all you had to do was look around the room at the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service’s Delta Ag Expo in Cleveland, Miss., on Jan. 23.

Most of the 150 or so chairs were filled and farmers were standing along the walls at the rear and sides of the room as MCES crop and irrigation specialists discussed the developing water crisis and the voluntary metering program being conducted by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

“Starting out, we’ll look at our results on our corn and soybean program up and down the Delta,” said Jason Krutz, irrigation specialist with Mississippi State University, who kicked off the Irrigation, Voluntary Metering Program & Water Conservation Roundtable. “We will talk about improving irrigation application; timing – when do we pull the trigger – because that is the No. 1 question you asked.

“That is, ‘When do I start, when do I stop and what do I do if I get a rainfall event in the middle? As a team, our solution is use soil moisture sensors. There are other techniques out there, and I’m not really concerned about them. We know these things work because we rolled them out in an extensive format, and we beat you in nearly every field we were in using soil moisture sensors and plant physiology.”