Efficient Irrigation Management With Center Pivot Systems


May 16, 2020 - Younsuk Dong, Lyndon Kelley and Steve A. Miller,


Efficient irrigation management provides benefits such as saving fresh water and energy, reducing nutrient leaching, increasing crop yield and grain quality, and maximizing return on investments. Investments made each year to irrigate a crop include the costs of energy, labor, and maintenance and repair of the system. Investments in growing the crop include tillage, seed, fertilizer, and labor. Properly managed irrigation can significantly increase yield over dryland farming, ensuring return on these investments. Irrigation can be used to incorporate fertilizers and pesticides and allow for applying fertilizer when required by the crop, thus proving to be environmentally sustainable as well as providing economic benefits. Irrigation decision-making tools such as irrigation scheduling programs and soil moisture sensors are available to improve the irrigation water use efficiency. In addition, irrigation system design, maintenance, and operation can improve application efficiency. Producers of agricultural commodities typically operate with a low profit margin. Because irrigation systems are an additional investment cost, the design and expense for equipment maintenance and energy usage should be carefully reviewed to maximize profit. Areas that have the potential to reduce irrigation costs are discussed in this bulletin. The Michigan Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) for Irrigation Water Use lists 23 practices for proper management of agricultural irrigation systems. The implementation of these practices has improved water resource efficiency, protected water resources, and saved money. Some of the practices will be highlighted in this bulletin.


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