More Precise Irrigation Control

More Precise Irrigation Control

As more regions of the country struggle with water conservation and off-site nutrient movement, growers are looking for ways to control inputs better. One clear place to start is controlling irrigation water more carefully. How much land could improvements here affect? The 2013 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey reports about 30.5 million acres in the U.S. are irrigated with mechanized systems, 26.6 million acres with surface (flood) systems and 4.05 million acres with drip/microirrigation.


Increases in grower acreage and advances in remote control technology have helped fuel irrigation system improvements.

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Rodger Meyer says:

In Wisconsin it is center pivot or traveling gun irrigation. Neither can be modified as they move across the field. center pivot systems can be low pressure but that’s it. You can not vary the rate as of now when it moves across different soil types in the field. When corn is 35 inches tall and the temperature is 80 degrees you loose 9000 gallons per acre per day through evaporation/transpiration. the pivot has to make it around every 3.5 days putting on 1.25 inches of water per acre just to keep up with this loss of moisture during the reproduction phase. Irrigation here is on sandy soil and it is usually dry from the last week of June through the first week of September. Some turn the system on in June and don’t turn them off until September. 28% is spoon fed to the corn so there need to be a regular amount applied each time the pivot makes it around the field. Our Water Winch traveling gun puts out 800 gallons per minute through a 1.6 inch nozzle at 95 pounds pressure shooting out 240 feet. The runs are 17.5 hours long. We have water at 65 feet after running 17.5 hours the vortex has the water down to 68 feet. The well is 133 feet deep powered by a John Deere 146 horse powered Diesel engine, 11 bowl turbine pump.. Crops grown here are Corn, Soybeans, Alfalfa, Dark Red Kidney Beans and Navy Beans. In my area there are over 100 wells that pump 600 to 800 gallons per minute.

Phil Bender says:

Rodger check out Precision Water Works in Plainfield. LaMar and Jeff routinely write variable rate irrigation programs for center pivots. I don’t know of anything yet for traveling guns.