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Posted 1 July 2016. PMN Crop News.

Innovations in Irrigation: The Best Management Practices

While irrigation can seem like a hefty investment, sometimes it pays to irrigate

Source: United Soybean Board Press Release.

Chesterfield, Missouri (June 8, 2016)--The practice will expend time, money, energy and water, but with new technology, it’s possible to irrigate more efficiently and conserve these resources. Farmers who rely on irrigation have improved the success of their farming operations by developing innovative solutions to the frustrations that often come along with irrigating. Their practices allow them to irrigate smarter and get the biggest bang for their buck.


Bubba Simmons, a farmer from Arcola, Mississippi, advocates for furrow irrigation, which he uses in raising his corn, rice and soybeans. Simmons suggests farmers use innovative technologies designed to make a more efficient use of resources when irrigating.

“PHAUCET and PipePlanner are the single most important technologies when it comes to irrigating smarter,” Simmons explains.

Both of these free tools help farmers protect their assets. They evaluate pressure changes along the tubing, the diameter of the pipe, different row lengths and changes in elevation to determine the best hole sizes to punch in the irrigation pipe. Soil-moisture sensors are another technology resource, allowing farmers to see when they should initiate and terminate irrigation events.

Surge valves can also be a good investment for farmers who find that their conventional systems lose water when it slows down and falls below the root zone; surge valves skip this problem entirely by pulsing water across the field, where it can shoot over the area that’s already been wetted and reach the spots that need more attention.

Coupling different irrigation technologies, like the aforementioned soil-moisture sensors, surge valves and well timers with computerized tools such as PHAUCET and PipePlanner provide farmers with actionable information to make irrigation decisions.

These tools will help farmers irrigate smarter, but irrigators should always plan ahead. Whether it be measuring flow rates, elevations or field dimensions, there are a handful of free and easy ways to improve irrigation systems during the offseason.

“Being prepared is very important,” said Simmons. “Even before the seed is planted, farmers should have an irrigation plan in place.”

Irrigators can use such technologies and plan ahead to be smarter irrigators, know when to irrigate and how to irrigate more efficiently. However, they should also be wary of when to turn off the water to avoid over-watering their crop and destroying potential soybean successes. While the point of irrigation is to provide the necessary amount of water to your crop, over-irrigating can be costly and may also damage healthy plants. Simmons states that the use of a flow meter can help you understand how much water you’ve already applied to a field – and let you know when it’s time to turn off the water.

Being a smarter irrigator is as easy as being aware what technology is available to you, planning ahead to use that technology most resourcefully and knowing when – and when not – to irrigate. Using Simmons’ tips will have any farmer on their way to being a master irrigator in no time.