Irrigation meetings across Michigan address irrigation for regional soil characteristics

Series of irrigation workshops will help growers reap the benefits of efficient use of irrigation.

Cut and shaped by multiple glaciation periods, Michigan has a truly interesting range of soil profiles that create unique opportunities and issues with irrigation across Michigan. For example, the Saginaw River Basin contains one of the largest inland navigable river systems in the United States. The flat geography, high water table, and the high silt and clay content of the soils in this region regularly flood in the spring and during storm events. The high water-holding capacity of these fine-textured soils usually means that irrigation is not common in this area throughout the season.

However, much of the high-producing acreage of the Bay Area has been tiled to drain these early season waters. By implementing drainage practices for saturation, growers are freeing up their ability to precisely control how much water reaches their crops, and cheaper opportunities for water access through bay-level drainage ditches can cut the added cost of drilling a well. When driving, you may see overhead crawlers in field crop areas where these ditches occur. But, drip irrigation systems are a better choice for commercial vegetables because disease pressure is lower when the moisture on the leaves and fruit is not in excess.

Michigan State University Extension is offering a series of irrigation workshops to help Bay-area growers, and growers in other parts of the state, reap the benefits of efficient use of irrigation. Dates, times and locations for upcoming 2014 workshops and target audiences can be found below.




Target audience

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Feb. 13

West Olive

All large volume water users

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Feb. 14


Field crops, morning session only (no charge)

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Feb. 25


Field crops

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

March 6

Shipshewana, IN

Soybeans (no charge)

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

March 12

Traverse City

Tree fruit

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

March 13


Overhead irrigators

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

March 17


Veg, fruit, field crops, overhead and drip irrigators

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

March 18


Veg, fruit, field crops, overhead and drip irrigators

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

March 19

Grand Rapids

Veg, fruit, field crops, overhead and drip irrigators

On-site registration for workshops will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the program starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. Lunch is included. Restricted use pesticide certification credits and crop advisor certification credits (four soil and water, one crop management) will be available through these programs. The registration fee for all workshops is $50 per person.

For the Dundee, Frankenmuth, and Grand Rapids dates, the registration deadline is March 10, after which registration is $75. Registration forms and more information can be found at the 2014 Irrigation Workshops Events Management page. Questions may be directed to ANR Event Services at or 517-353-3175.

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