• Surge valves.

Surge valves are supposed to tackle the two problems that interfere with irrigation application efficiency.

“The first problem is tail-water runoff. The surge valves can be dialed in so they’ll oscillate back-and-forth on the field and eliminate tail-water runoff.

Krutz surge valve video.

“The other thing the surge valves help with are things we can’t see but know are there. Maybe the top part of a field gets oversaturated causing a yield drag. The way the valves work is they try to reduce deep percolation losses…

“If you’re dealing with a Dundee silt loam-type soil and see the water scooting across the top and think you’re not getting good penetration, you’re right. If we can get water penetration using the surge valves, there’s probably quite a bit of yield out there to be gained.”

  • Proper timing.

During the winter meeting season, Krutz has spoken with hundreds of Mid-South producers about how they’re irrigating crops. He’s found that most “use a schedule that says ‘pull the trigger about every Monday.’ I bet the number folks going out and probing soils is less than 1 or 2 percent.”

As for the three tools, “that’s it. Those are the only tools available to make yourself a better furrow irrigator.”

As for deploying sensors, Krutz said they try to “determine when you get to 50 percent of the water that’s being held in the rooting zone. If you go past that, you’re setting yourself up for yield loss associated with drought stress. You can’t tell that by just irrigating every Monday. You can’t tell that driving by on the turn-row.”

However, “a sensor is designed to detect when you get close to that value. When should you turn the well on? When you get close to that 50 percent -- and I don’t care what growth stage you’re at.”

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Krutz pointed out that Mississippi corn farmers are permitted 18 inches of well water annually. “The kicker is we’re in a voluntary metering program. They’re slapping meters on and turning information into a regulatory agency. I can assure you that when we irrigate corn in Mississippi, we go over 18 inches a lot.

“I’m not a prophet and don’t know what will happen in the future. But I see a dilemma quickly approaching. I keep driving this home to producers and I know it sounds radical, sounds like it isn’t true. But look at what’s happened out West. We’re going to have to become more conservative and manage our water resources better.”