By Chris Henry, Water Management Engineer; Greg Simpson, Irrigation Program Associate; and Dustin Pickelmann, Irrigation Program Associate
This is the first year for the Arkansas Irrigation Yield Contest. We have been busy especially the last two weeks sealing meters for rice and corn fields. Current count is that we have 11 rice entrants, the vast majority have entered as row rice fields, 7 corn entrants, and 4 soybean entries. We still have 10 meters available for loan for people who wish to enter the contest. The meter must be installed and sealed by us before the first irrigation and the entry form needs to be turned in within ten days after we seal the meter. Meter sealing is very simple, a cable tie is used to lock the meter to the bonnet and the alfalfa valve, so that it cannot be removed and tape and permanent markings are applied to indicate tampering. Meter sealing is a fast process and done to ensure that the entrants did not add irrigation water that did not go through the meter. The three winners will take home over $20,000 in prizes and cash.
In some cases the entire family is getting involved in the contest field. Some have even purchased their own meters just for the contest. A variety of different approaches are being used to schedule and monitor irrigation, soil moisture and flood levels. Rain and irrigation are included in the final calculation for Water Use Efficiency, the person with the most crop per drop for each category wins.
The deadline for entering the contest is June 30th. Please request the meter and seal as soon as possible, so everything is in place before the first irrigation is needed. Anyone interested in entering the contest should contact their local Extension or NRCS office or contact us directly by phone or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost to enter is $100, and the rules and entry form are available at www.uaex.edu/irrigation