An Irrigation Energy Field Day will be held July 28 at the University of Missouri Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo.

The free half-day event will feature indoor sessions and outdoor tours. Speakers will address methods farmers can employ to reduce irrigation energy costs by identifying opportunities for increasing energy efficiency and showing how to conduct energy assessments and to calculate energy savings and simple payback.

“In the not-so-long-ago days of ‘one-dollar diesel,’ Missouri irrigators didn’t worry about irrigation pumping costs,” said Joe Henggeler, MU Extension irrigation specialist and field day co-organizer. “Survey data taken prior to 2004 showed that despite energy source or crop (other than rice), be it watered with a pivot or by gravity, farmers spent less than $10 per acre for irrigation energy.”

After Hurricane Katrina fossil-fuel prices jumped appreciably. The $1 diesel soon reached $4 a gallon, and Missouri irrigators started worrying.

In addition to speakers, the field day will include displays from companies in the irrigation industry. Vendors with products designed to reduce irrigation costs include manufacturers of wireless soil-moisture sensing units. These devices can text farmers when it’s time to irrigate.

“Cotton Incorporated, which is funding research on wireless sensors in several Cotton Belt states, feels that this technology holds promise. Ed Barnes of Cotton Incorporated will be one of the speakers,” said Henggeler.

The field day specifically targets the farming public facing escalating fuel prices. “Even the date was set to occur during the downtime between lay-by and harvest so that maximum farmer attendance can occur,” said co-organizer Van Ayers, MU Extension agriculture and rural development specialist. Ayers hosted an irrigation field day 20 years ago at the same site with 200 in attendance. He believes that the July 28 field day could top 500 attendees.

The field day is made possible by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources with a grant to MU from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant provides energy training for farmers.

The field day begins with check-in at 7:30 a.m. and concludes at 1 p.m. The field day is free. Attendees can print a free lunch ticket when pre-registering online, or purchase one on-site for $15.

For more information, contact Van Ayers at (573) 568-3344 or ayersv@missouri.edu, or Joe Henggeler at (915) 379-5431 or henggelerj@missouri.edu.

Pre-registration is available at http://agebb.missouri.edu/irrigate/bhconf/2011b/prereg.htm.