DESCRIPTION OF IRRIGATION METHODS AND EQUIPMENT
Farmers need to be resourceful when dealing with a lack of rain or when cultivating crops that need a lot of water. Groundwater, surface water, and piped-in water all play a role in the irrigation process, which aims to quench the parched roots of crops.
As they endeavor to provide water to crops without wasting any, farmers often confront challenges from evapotranspiration and wind. In many regions, farmers also have difficulties with water availability and quality.
While most irrigated fields are located in the western United States, the practice is widespread. 52% of the country’s total irrigation acres are located in only five states: Nebraska, California, Texas, Arkansas, and Idaho.
Irrigation may be done in a variety of ways. Numerous successful application tactics have been supported by research, however every farmer has their own choice and budget. This article provides a high-level picture of the role of irrigation in modern American farming.
Water to the roots by drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation, or subsurface drip irrigation, is a method of providing plants with water by delivering moisture straight to the plant’s roots. Drip irrigation uses tubing perforated all the way through to provide liquid straight to the soil and, ultimately, the roots of plants. Costing more than traditional methods, this irrigation strategy helps farmers use less water. Even farms with slopes or unusual shapes might benefit from drip irrigation.
Precision mobile drip irrigation (PMDI) is a modern innovation that combines drip and center pivot irrigation techniques. Instead of using nozzle heads to irrigate plants, PMDI employs drip hoses on a center pivot arrangement to avoid wetting the wheels or the grass.
To water a whole field, these sprinkler systems rotate around a central post using long steel arms equipped with nozzles and powered by electricity. Southwest Kansas farmers are getting creative with their pivots in an effort to save the Ogallala Aquifer by reducing water use without sacrificing crop yields.
A farming family in central Kansas with 57 center pivot irrigation systems relies on remote monitoring and control to keep track of everything. Since getting a remote control, the farmers have been able to spend more time on field scouting and nutrient management without having to allocate time to managing fertigation injections manually.
STATE-OF-THE-ART IRRIGATION TECHNOLOGY
As the world’s environmental requirements evolve and the United States examines its own water use more closely, new technologies are always being introduced. One of the many alternatives for cutting-edge irrigation controller technology, full-color touchscreen screens are currently in use for irrigation system management by farmers. Similarly, there are apps designed to help you save water.
A smart program developed by the University of Missouri may help farmers in Missouri determine the optimal times to water their crops. The software takes into account the farmer’s location, the field’s climate, evapotranspiration predictions, and NRCS soil mapping and texture data to assist them better manage moisture.
EXPLOSION OF WATER USE
Drought conditions were severe in Illinois during the summer of 2012. The immediate effect was seen by farmers, whose harvests collapsed as a result of the severe lack of precipitation. A single plot of land in Illinois produced just 50 bushels per acre, whereas a second plot only 20 miles distant garnered 190 bushels per acre thanks to an extra.4 inches of rain. After 2012, that farmer and many others in Illinois made the decision to install an irrigation system in order to better prepare for and respond to seasonal changes.
Regulation of irrigation water use has a long way to go, especially in Illinois. When it became mandatory in 2015, farmers in Illinois finally began documenting how much water was used for irrigation. There are no statewide limits on water use, no regulations in place to prevent potential groundwater disputes, and no prohibitions on the construction of new systems. As of 2017, just around half of actual usage was recorded.
FAR LESS WATER USAGE
As a result of drought and water scarcity, both farmers and consumers are seeking for methods to reduce their water use. Even while some farms are dealing with depleted aquifers and others are subject to strict legislative constraints, water conservation is always an issue in American business.
To save water, researchers at the University of Nebraska recommend tailoring watering schedules to soil types such that accessible soil water remains above the 50% depletion limit. Soybeans have widely varying moisture requirements.
CHEMIGRATION AND FERTIGATION
The purpose of an irrigation system is not limited to just providing plants with water. For farmers, the cutting-edge technology may be an indispensable resource for implementing nutrient management strategies. Both fertigation and chemigation involve injecting substances into an irrigation system, however fertilizers and soil additives are injected while chemicals are injected during fertigation. Modern variable-rate fertigation systems provide farmers with a new tool for improving crop yields.
After 37 years of using chemigation and fertigation, one Idaho farmer has reduced his fuel use and eliminated damage to his crops caused by vehicles. On average, he uses his pivot systems to apply 15–18 applications of fertilizer and 4–6 applications of chemicals to his crops per growing season.