What is in this article?:
- The availability of moisture for peanuts is critical at key times in the growing season for maximum yield and to reduce stress that can affect both yield and quality.
- Without irrigation, during the past three years many growers across the peanut-producing belt in the U.S. simply couldn’t plant peanuts because of a lack of soil moisture.
Number of monitors
There are a number of monitors that can be used to determine exactly how much irrigation water peanut plants need. These irrigation water guides are available from Extension specialists in any peanut-producing state and from any irrigation equipment dealer.
Corrin Bowers in South Carolina came back to his father’s farm armed with a degree in engineering from the University of South Carolina and valuable industry experience with precision technology. He has helped develop a highly successful system of monitoring soil and plant moisture and applying irrigation water as needed.
“We use a program called TCH20 that is a combination of two older programs,” he says.
“We put sensors at 8, 16 and 24 inches in the soil. The system has a data logger that records 24 hours a day, seven days week. I can go to the field with my computer and hook it up to the data logger or as long as I have a clear line of sight I can do it with a radio connection.
“After the crop is planted, I go in every morning and get a histogram of what the water is doing. I can tell what the plant available water and soil moisture are each day. It’s a highly evolved computer program that allows me to be a better farmer — I know more about our crop than we used to know.
“We are now watering our crops based on when the plants really need water. It takes out all the guesswork of looking at a crop and trying to determine when to irrigate and when not to irrigate,” Bowers says.
Another system of irrigating peanuts was recently developed by former USDA-National Peanut Research Laboratory Scientist Wilson Faircloth. The system developed in Georgia and Texas is called primed acclimation.