How to Get the Most from YOUR DOLLARS PER DROP when Irrigating

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irrigation workshop collage 6-25-15

Photos by Leslie Lestinsky, Summer Intern, Red Hen Turf Farm

On June 25, 2015, Red Hen had the pleasure of hosting an Irrigation System Uniformity Evaluation workshop led by MSU Extension/Purdue University Irrigation Educator, Lyndon Kelley.

Phil Sutton, St. Joseph County (IN) Extension Educator for Agricultural and Natural Resources organized this event.  James Rodriguez, Soil Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was also on hand to speak to attendees about financial programs available for farmers interested in taking cost-sharing steps to enhance cover crop implementation and improve soil and water quality.

The workshop was geared toward farmers / producers who utilize irrigation systems, but ultimately the takeaway message applies to homeowners with sprinkler systems, too. 

In short, Kelley advocates evaluating your irrigation system throughout the year to detect any problem areas and lack of uniformity.

An irrigation system uniformity evaluation is conducted by sampling the output from a system and identifying areas of the sprinkler package that need improvement. Several procedures have been developed for test irrigation uniformity. All involve running the irrigation system over a set of uniform sized cups and measuring the amount of water collected. In a perfect world, each cup should catch an identical volume of water.

– Lyndon Kelley, MSU / Purdue Irrigation Educator (Source)

 

The big question is, WHY BOTHER TESTING YOUR IRRIGATION FOR UNIFORM CALIBRATION?

Whether you’re a farmer or a homeowner, by regularly testing how much water each irrigation head is putting out – and ensuring that the system as a whole is continually working uniformly by making repairs and/or adjustments – you will use LESS ENERGY, your COSTS WILL BE LOWER, and — for producers — this translates to HIGHER PROFITS.

“Irrigation system uniformity is key… A 10% or less deviation from the average rate is ideal”.

– Lyndon Kelley, MSU / Purdue Irrigation Educator

 

Kelley discussed several strategies to enhance “dollars per drop,” all designed to ensure your system is working within the parameters of its design, and as a function of flow rate and pressure. Kelley also spoke on how to implement “checkbook irrigation scheduling” and “soil moisture monitoring”—additional actions that ultimately result in a higher yield at a lower cost.

This article barely touches on the wealth of information Lyndon Kelley shared.  TO LEARN MORE, here are some helpful LINKS:

  • FOR PRODUCERS:
    • Visit Michigan State University’s webpage on Irrigation Resources by CLICKING HERE or visit Purdue’s webpage on Irrigation Resources by CLICKING HERE.
    • To get in touch with Lyndon Kelley about conducting your own irrigation system evaluation (utilizing his simple, free-to-use equipment), he can be reached by e-mail at: Kelley@MSU.EDU or cell: (269)-535-0343, office: (269)-467-5511.
    • To contact NRCS about USDA financial programs, find your local NRCS representative by CLICKING HERE.
    • To contact your local Extension Agent, in Indiana call your county’s Purdue Extension office by CLICKING HERE.  In Michigan, your local Michigan State University Extension Agent can be contacted by CLICKING HERE.
  • FOR HOMEOWNERS with SPRINKLER SYSTEMS:
    •  CLICK HERE to read Purdue’s publication, “Irrigation Practices for Home Lawns
    • CLICK HERE to check out the WikiHow website’s step-by-step visual guide for calibrating home lawn sprinklers
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1 thought on “How to Get the Most from YOUR DOLLARS PER DROP when Irrigating

  1. Pingback: Where did the rain go? And what do I do about my thirsty lawn? | Red Hen Turf Farm

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