Sunday, February 22, 2009

Irrigation project joins research, technology, technique

The Center Pivot Water Conservation Project exists to bring the latest research, technologies and techniques to irrigators. The project is a three-year education program with major funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.
Center pivot manufacturers, there are four in Nebraska, contributed both cash and in-kind services. UNL is a contributor, as well as the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.
The program is designed to help irrigators become more efficient with the water that they apply through pivots. For example, growers can do a better job during the season by not irrigating corn and soybeans so early. It’s okay to stress soybeans. In fact water stress may increase yields if you don’t fully irrigate. Stressing corn during the vegetative growth stage will not hurt yields. But once the tassel comes out, it needs to have full water.
2009 is the first year of the program. The five presentations developed for this year include:
  • Sprinkler packages. This presentation will help producers select the most efficient sprinklers for their own situations.
  • Pumping costs. This presentation will allow the crop grower to decide if the system is using more energy than it should and if it needs to be tested for inefficiencies.
  • Nebraska Ag Water Management Demonstration Network. This network uses moisture sensors and an atmometer to keep track of how much water crop is using during the growing season.
  • Limited irrigation. Growers will learn about research that reveals methods for producing optimum yields with less water.
  • Water Optimizer. This is an Excel-based spreadsheet program that permits producers to plug in their own numbers to determine how best to use irrigation water.
In the presentation will be working the four pivot manufacturers and their distribution networks. Dealer open houses will be attended where presentations will be given.
Visit with the dealers in your neighborhood and ask if they’re going to have an open house.
Presentations will be soon available for download and viewing on the producer’s own computer.

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