Initiation of In-Season Irrigation in the Silt Loam Soils Above the Ogallala Formation
Loyd R. Stone, Alan Schlegel, and Freddie Lamm
Water drainage from the soil profile is a major component of inefficient irrigation. Most drainage with inefficient irrigation occurs during the early season when root systems are not deep and extensive, and crop water use is relatively low. We have measured the seasonal drainage component to be as much as 33 percent of the total irrigation delivery to a field. Poorly timed irrigation events can have drainage losses greater than 33 percent of the delivered water. A key need for efficient water management is assistance with the timing of irrigation start-up in a growing season. We estimate that improved start-up of irrigation could save one or possibly two irrigations, without a measurable reduction in yield. We propose a research effort to evaluate the use of tensiometers as the indicator of start-up of irrigation. Our work would involve an evaluation of corn grain yield, crop water use, irrigation application amount, and drainage from the soil profile as influenced by tensiometer reading. We would then deliver an educational program on the construction and use of tensiometers in an irrigation management program. We believe this effort would lead to reduced early-season irrigation use and essentially static corn yields. This total effort would necessitate a 4-year program — a 3-year field research program (@ $40,000 per year) and the 4th year devoted to the educational delivery (@ $20,000). Averaged over the 4 years, the amount is $35,000/year.
This file created Sept 20, 2001