Gregory C. Bauer Supervisory District Conservationist
This year many irrigation systems have been pushed to maximum capacity due to the extreme drought conditions we are experiencing. Many of the irrigation systems were not able to adequately irrigate the crops, due to inefficiency of the irrigation system. Other irrigation systems weren’t able to provide adequate water due to limited the well capacity. Some irrigators have exceeded their annual water allocation and have used some of next year’s allocation to finish the irrigation season.
There are several ways of overcoming irrigation deficiencies during severe drought conditions. One of them is to use an irrigation scheduling program. Kansas State University has an irrigation scheduling program available to anyone by simply down loading the program on to your computer from their website, the program is KanSched 2. By scheduling your irrigation you can match irrigation events to crop needs, eliminating excess water use and pumping cost.
Another way to improving irrigation efficiency is by changing the method of irrigation. As you are probably well aware, flood irrigation is a very inefficient method of irrigating. Two other methods commonly used in the county are Pivot Irrigation and Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI). The efficiency of a pivot irrigation system is rated around 87%, SDI is rated at 92% or greater. Both systems offer more efficient use of water, thus reducing pumping cost and less overall water usage. Pivot and SDI irrigation systems also provide a more uniform irrigation pattern, providing for more yield potential.
If you are interested in converting your flood irrigation system to a more efficient less labor intensive system contact the NRCS office in Great Bend, we are currently accepting Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) applications until November 15, 2011.