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Irrigation at K-State Research and Extension

Advanced Technologies to Reduce Consumptive Water Use of the Ogallala

R.M. Aiken


Advanced control of subsurface drip irrigation technology may reduce the water requirement for grain production. We hypothesize higher grain yields when a limited supply of water is applied at high frequency and low volume rather than low frequency and high volume. Grain yield efficiencies may result from crop physiological adjustments to a more stable growth environment under high application frequencies.

Water Savings from Biological Efficiency

Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) technologies save water by cutting evaporative losses in the irrigation process. We hypothesize that further savings may be achieved by "spoon-feeding" water and nutrients just-in-time to meet crop requirements. The grain fraction of crop productivity may increase by using advanced control of SDI to provide a more stable growth environment. By optimizing these biological efficiencies, farmers could reduce water required to sustain profitable crop production.

Experimental Approach

Objective: Determine the effects of irrigation frequency (daily or weekly, equivalent amounts) on crop water use and grain productivity when water is applied in limited (tassel emergence through grain fill) or full irrigation (100% ET). We expect better canopy formation and seed fill with daily, rather than weekly irrigation frequency as the crop adjusts to stable supply of available water rather than drying cycles associated with a weekly application schedule.

Expected Outcomes

Identified biological efficiencies would lead to advanced irrigation control technologies and management guidelines for reducing the water requirement for grain production under limited irrigation conditions. Successful technologies would permit managers to reduce consumptive water use while maintaining farm productivity.

Cost: $35,000 (annual) for instrumentation and half-time research technician

Duration: Four years

This file created Sept 20, 2001