What is in this article?:
- Declining aquifer focusing more attention on irrigation water savings
- Better furrow irrigators
- Half the water
- Moisture sensors
‘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.”
JASON KRUTZ shows the programmable control panel for a surge valve during a break at the Delta Ag Expo. Krutz is an irrigation specialist with Mississippi State University.
Better furrow irrigators
With 80 percent of the Delta’s irrigation coming from furrow watering systems, Krutz said, farmers are also asking specialists “to make us better furrow irrigators.
“To do that, we will have to improve how that furrow irrigation system is delivering water,” he noted. “We have two techniques for doing that: Surge irrigation and some kind of computerized hole selection system whether it be PHAUCET or Delta Plastics Pipe Planner.”
PHAUCET or Pipe Hole and Universal Crown Evaluation Tool and Pipe Planner are programs that enable growers to determine the most efficient size of plastic tubing, pumping rates and hole placement for flexible irrigation pipe. PHAUCET (Mississippi soybean producers commit to PHAUCET) has been around a number of years while Pipe Planner is a relatively recent innovation.
Growers say the PHAUCET system has helped them cut water usage and pumping costs by 50 percent or more in many fields.
Krutz went through a series of case studies where MSU specialists used a combination of soil moisture sensors and the PHAUCET program in farmers’ fields and produced the same or better yields than growers harvested at less cost and 40 percent to 50 percent of the amount of water.
In one of the studies, the producer irrigated corn four times on either side of a test strip that was irrigated by the MCES specialists. On one side, he harvested 233 bushels for a $784 per acre return and, on the other, he cut 248 bushels for an $840 return. The specialists, meanwhile, irrigated twice and harvested 256 bushels for an $881 return.