By Chris Henry, Assistant Professor and Water Management Engineer
Last summer the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture implemented over 30 Irrigation Water Management (IWM) demonstrations. Workshops in Jonesboro and Stuttgart will provide producers a chance to hear details that were compiled from irrigation water management demonstrations last summer on cooperating farms. The presentations will begin with open registration at 9:30 a.m. March 7 at the Northeast Arkansas Exposition and Conference Center at 7001 Johnson Ave. in Jonesboro and at 9:30 a.m. March 8 at the Rice Research and Extension Center at 2900 Highway 130 East in Stuttgart. Both sessions will run until mid-afternoon. Attendees should call Phil Horton at 870-673-2661 to register. There is no cost to attend. We saw very significant savings in water and energy usage, which translate to reducing overall production costs for our farmers. We are seeing on average about a 27% reduction in water use or irrigation cost and were able to save about $511 per pumping plant that we looked at. These workshops are a “sharing session” to discuss how to implement these practices, so those interested in pumping plant optimization, computerized hole selection, surge irrigation, soil moisture monitoring and other practices that can reduce production costs should attend.
Event sponsors, in addition to the Division of Agriculture are the United Soybean Board, the Mid-South Soybean Board, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, the Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board, Cotton Inc., and the Natural Resource Conservation Service through a Conservation Innovation Grant.
“My cooperator was so impressed with the surge valve efficiency that he intends to convert all of his furrow irrigated acres to this practice,” said Russell Parker, Crittenden County extension agent.
Grant Beckwith, Arkansas County extension agent for the division, worked with three cooperators in 2015 and has become a big fan of soil moisture sensors and surge valves. “The farmers have all commented on how much improvement using these tools has made and are interesting in doing more next year,” he said.
Brett Gordon, White County extension agent, said, “These demonstrations were a real learning experience for the Watkins farms and me. We were shocked with how much energy we were using and the savings we could realize.”