Irrigation Efficiency in Corn Production

In Audio, CUTC, Environmental, Water by Chuck

When it comes to efficiently producing corn, water is a very important factor. So water usage was the topic of the concluding session at the Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. One of the presenters during the session was Derrel Martin, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His presentation was titled, “Impact of Irrigation Efficiency & Farming Practices on Ag Hydrology and Economics.”

Derrel says that since Nebraska is the state with the most irrigated land this has been a very important subject for his research and work. He says that farmers are being challenged by water limitations and to meet the bottom line while optimizing the use of ground water resources. He says that contrary to what some people may think about the aquifer going dry, it’s not. There’s plenty of water there. But states are looking at water a lot more critically and that’s putting pressure on farmers to make more efficient use of it. He says they’ve been looking at crop water use efficiency for quite a while.

When it comes to irrigation efficiency he says “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Technology today makes that pretty easy to do though. He says about 80 percent of the irrigated land is done with center pivots which can be very efficient but they need to be managed to make sure they’re working properly. He also cautions farmers to be careful about irrigating too early in spring and too late in the fall. Interestingly, Arkansas is the fourth largest irrigated state. He says irrigation is moving east.

You can download (mp3) and listen to my interview with Derrel here: [audio:]