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.

Reduce Need for Irrigation by Maintaining Crop Residue and Reducing Soil Tillage

Leaving higher levels of crop residue and doing less tillage can increase the soil water balance by increasing the amount of water that infiltrates the soil from irrigation or precipitation, and decreasing the amount of water that runs off the soil surface. More residue and less tillage also reduce the rate of evaporation of water from the soil. Maintaining residue on the soil surface and doing less tillage can significantly reduce the amount of irrigation water needed to grow a crop.

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Irrigation Management Publications from Nebraska Extension

Harvesting Crop Residues, NebGuide G1846
Issues of crop residue harvest, including nutrient removal and effects on erosion, soil quality, water loss, and yield are discussed in this NebGuide.

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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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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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Subsurface Drip

Advantages and Disadvantages of Subsurface Drip Irrigation, EC776 (PDF, 1.2 MB; 8 full color pages)
Discusses subsurface drip irrigation, including the advantages of water application efficiency and savings, energy savings and potential yield increases and the disadvantges of initial investment, system capacity, design restrictions and emitter clogging.

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