Regional roundup Irrigation updates from around the United States

Midwest region

Protecting the ag economy & water back to the Platte River

By Dean Edson

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts have been proactive in creating new ways to increase irrigation efficiency, protect water supplies and increase flows to the Platte River in central Nebraska. In particular, the Central Platte NRD worked with four surface water irrigation canal companies in Dawson County to rehabilitate and repurpose the surface water irrigation system. Partnership agreements were reached with the Cozad Ditch Company, Thirty Mile Irrigation District and Southside Irrigation District in 2011 and 2012. Farmers on the Six-mile

South region

Crop irrigation in full swing By Calvin Perry

In the South, field crops are either progressing along or are being planted now. Field corn and sweet corn are tasseling in the Deep South (or being harvested in Florida), with planting near completion in other “southern” areas further north and west. Cotton and peanut

Canal sold the excess water rights to the Central Platte NRD in 2010 and closed the canal.

Farmers are allowed to irrigate with groundwater sources using center pivots, and natural flow diversions are returned to the river. In the off-irrigation season when demand is not has high on the river, the excess river flows are run through the canal systems to provide groundwater recharge.

The first year of full operation (2015) a total of 18,200 acre feet (equal to 5.9 billion gallons) from both excess flows and natural flow diversions were put back into the Platte River. The gains were made without any reduction in irrigated acres. Groundwater levels are also at predevelopment levels in the area.

The projects would not be possible without assistance from the efficiency

planting is near completion and soybean planting is at various stages of completion. Vegetables and turf are being harvested. With all this activity, crop irrigation is in full swing across much of the South.

There are soil moisture/drought issues in the South. As of May 16, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated parts of Texas were “abnormally dry,” and parts of Alabama and South Carolina and much of Georgia and Florida were considered “abnormally dry to extreme drought.” Fortunately, the rest of the South is in fairly good shape. In south Georgia, our corn and sweet corn fields have required several inches of irrigation already.

Speaking of Georgia, our University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has embarked on a multiyear pilot project to help farmers better schedule their irrigation, which should lead to gains in water-use efficiency and conservation. Eleven county agents across south Georgia will each be working with two

36 Irrigation TOD ODAY | July 201 July 2017

farmers to use soil moisture sensors as well as a cotton irrigation scheduling app for smartphones. It should be an interesting project.

Calvin Perry is superintendent at C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park at the University of Georgia.

gained with center pivot irrigation. The center pivot manufacturers and dealers across Nebraska work with local NRDs and farmers to continually improve irrigation efficiency.

Dean Edson is the executive director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts. Edson earned both a bachelor’s in agribusiness and an MBA from the University of Nebraska. He also still owns the farm he grew up on in Gothenberg, Nebraska.

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