Agricultural Irrigation

Agricultural Production Agricultural Irrigation

Agricultural Irrigation

Agricultural water users can optimize water use efficiency and protect the quality of water resources by applying basic information about irrigation systems, crop water use and management practices.

Soil Water

Irrigation scheduling needs to begin with a discussion on soil and soil water. This is the basis of irrigation scheduling.

Coarse soils, such as sands and gravels, have relatively large pores. However the number of pores is small when compared to a finer textured soil. Fine soils, like clays or clay loams, have relatively small pores. Having many small pores means that a fine textured soil can hold more water than a coarse textured soil.

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Why Manage Irrigation?

The goal of irrigation management is to use water in the most profitable way at sustainable production levels. For production agriculture this generally means supplementing precipitation with irrigation.

In recent years we have seen declines in groundwater levels, almost statewide. Much of the State of Nebraska is considered fully or over-appropriated. This means that in those over-appropriated areas there will be no new development of irrigated acres.

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Furrow Irrigation

Advantages to furrow irrigation include lower initial investment of equipment and lower pumping costs per acre-inch of water pumped. Disadvantages include greater labor costs and lower application efficiency compared to sprinkler and subsurface drip irrigation. The number of furrow irrigated acres in Nebraska has decreased from 2.4 million to approximately 1.5 million acres in the past 10 years.

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