IRRIGATION

Evaluation Of Furrow Irrigation Practices For Mid-South Rice Production
Presented by Lee Atwill

Extension Associate II, Mississippi State University - DREC
The use of furrow irrigation in mid-south rice production, has recently been introduced as a water saving irrigation practice to slow aquifer decline, however this practice has not previously been evaluated in great detail. A study was conducted in 2016 and 2017 to determine whether safe and efficient furrow irrigation of rice can be achieved while maintaining yield and on-farm profitability. Furrow irrigation management concerns, nitrogen management, field and cultivar selection, weed control, on-farm implementation, economic and profitability data will be discussed.

On-Farm Implementation Of Alternate Wetting And Drying Irrigation Practices For Mid-South Rice Production Presented by Lee Atwill
Extension Associate II, Mississippi State University - DREC
Rice irrigation currently accounts for the greatest amount of irrigation water applied per acre over corn, soybeans, and cotton in the Mid-South. This study was conducted from 2014-2017 to determine whether safe and efficient alternate wetting and drying (AWD) water management can be achieved while maintaining yield and improving on-farm profitability. Water level threshold, weed control practices, nitrogen management, cultivar selection, and on-farm implementation of AWD will be discussed.

Adoption Of IWM Practices In Arkansas County
Presented by Grant Beckwith

CEA – Staff Chair, Arkansas County
Presented by Jason Smith
Arkansas Farmer: Rice, Soybeans, Wheat For decades water conservation techniques and projects have been done in Arkansas County. But in the past few years IWM (Irrigation Water Management) practices utilizing computer hole selection, multiple inlet rice irrigation have been adopted across many acres of soybeans, corn and rice acres in the county. Research, on farm demonstrations and classes on how to better utilize irrigation water have helped these practices become better accepted and utilized. In addition to increased irrigation efficiency farmers see other benefits such as better preflood nitrogen incorporation in rice with MIRI versus conventional flood.

Steep Fall Requiring Too Many Levees Spurred Row Rice Production Method
Presented by Chris Berry
Missouri Farmer: Irrigation
Berry will address the efforts he’s taken in raising row rice. He will name the challenges he faces including budgeting and how his savings come into play. Using his own side-by-side comparisons he will provide yield data from the past fall showing he’s had no yield loss. He began planting row rice on fields where it was too hard to grow conventional flood rice due to the steep fall which would have required too many levees in the field requiring too much time and manpower to put them up. While he has no flow meters on the well, he does have data on the gallons of fuel used during irrigation & hours ran to show 25 percent water and irrigation savings. He began farming in 2007 after receiving his associate’s degree in general studies from Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff. He serves on the Missouri Rice Research & Merchandising Council Board, US Rice Producers Association Board, and as Chairman of International Programs for USRPA. His 6,000 acres is divided half and half into rice and soybeans.

Irrigation History On Clements Farm Past (NUMBER) Years
Presented by Tim Clements
Mississippi Farmer: Soybeans, Corn, Rice
Clements will discuss the conservation practices and irrigation management efforts he has taken on all his crops through the years. These include the use of soil moisture sensors, computerized hole selection, surge valves and timers. He will detail what he has learned through trial and error throughout his experience with irrigation. He grew up on the farm and has been farming on his own since 1986. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Delta State University after attending Mississippi State for several semesters, and is the former chairman of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board.

An Analysis Of Using Efficient Furrow Irrigation Technologies In Louisiana
Presented by Dr. Stacia Davis
Assistant Professor, LSU AgCenter
Presented by Drew Lefler

Louisiana Farmer: Cotton, Corn, Soybeans
Over the last three years, multiple types of soil moisture sensors were evaluated at numerous furrow-irrigated research and demonstration sites to determine recommendations for implementation across various soil types and weather conditions. In addition to soil moisture sensors, some demonstrations included the use of computerized hole selection and surge valves as a suite of irrigation water management tools to improve overall efficiency. Results indicate that there is a place for these technologies in Louisiana, but more work is necessary before broad implementation begins.

Reduce Time, Money And Labor Spent On Irrigation By Using Pipe Planner
Presented by Chris DeClerk

Irrigation Specialist, Delta Plastics of the South
Presented by Dustin Hudson
Irrigation & Water Management Specialist, NRCS
Irregular-shaped fields, elevation restrictions and inadequate pumping volumes are just some of the obstacles that are hard to overcome when trying to evenly distribute irrigation water across a field. By utilizing Pipe Planner, producers can easily determine the correct hole sizes to punch in the polytubing for many difficult field scenarios and save time, money and water. In this session, producers will hear success stories given from Irrigation Water Management specialist Dustin Hudson of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Delta Plastics’ Irrigation Specialist Chris DeClerk, will detail how producers in the Mississippi Delta can receive direct assistance from industry professionals and gain additional knowledge of these specific cost saving techniques.

The Roadmap To 1500 Pound Cotton
Presented by Dr. Darrin Dodds

Associate Extension Professor / Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University
This presentation will focus on management factors that will help maximize yields as well as return on investment. Discussion points will include: variety selection, pest management, fertility, irrigation, and product utilization as well as other areas of cotton management that should be considered. Discussion will also concentrate on maximizing profitability keeping in mind the highest yielding crop may not always be the most profitable crop.

Comparing Water Use Efficiency And Yields For Soybeans Grown On 30 Inch Versus 60 Inch Beds
Presented by Dave Freeze

County Extension Agent, University of Arkansas
Presented by Joey Massey
Arkansas Farmer
Each year 80,000 acres of soybeans are grown in Greene County Arkansas. It is estimated that over half these acres are grown on 60 inches beds. The beds are prepared with a bedder-roller, a popular implement for local producers. Using wide beds, producers may not be able to thoroughly saturate the soil profile when they irrigate, which could result in lower yields. To investigate this, a test was established to compare irrigation dynamics for soybeans grown on 60 inch beds and 30 inch beds. Flow meters, surge valves, and soil moisture sensors were used on the wide and narrow beds to help improve irrigation efficiency, and to monitor irrigation water use and soil moisture status. The project was conducted in 2015 and 2016. Results varied by year. The 60 inch beds showed the best yield in 2015 on a sandy soil while the 30 inch beds showed the best yield in 2016 on a silt loam soil. It was also determined the silt loam soil needed more frequent irrigation than the sandy soil due to its slower infiltration rate.***

The Benefits And Difficulties Of Irrigating Row Rice
Presented by Stan Haigwood

Arkansas Farmer: Rice, Soybeans, Corn, Grain Sorghum, Wheat
In an effort to avoid all the labor and money of leveling ground and pulling levees up crosswise, Haigwood has tried row rice the past year. He will try to answer questions on where it works, what varieties lend themselves to it, and why sometimes it can be done and sometimes not. “I’ve learned a lot this year, and we will continue to do it, though not over the whole farm.” Things to consider are type of ground, heavy or light, and whether you can conserve water on it. He will go into the problems of insects, weeds and grass. Some rice that was planted two weeks earlier withstood three weeks of the 100-year flood the past year. About 6,000 acres of the 6,500 acres planted was lost. Haigwood grew up on the farm and has been farming since 1982. He graduated from Arkansas State with a bachelor’s degree in business. The whole family helps with 13,000 acres, but he and his brothers manage 8,500 acres on their own

A Glimpse Into the Future Of Row Rice
Presented by Dr. Chris Henry

Assistant Professor & Water Mnaagement Engineer, University or Arkansas
Furrow irrigated rice provides an opportunity to increase the profitability of rice production, but growers are successful and sometimes less successfully producing rice under furrow irrigation. Much work is necessary in the areas of irrigation, variety selection, nitrogen forms, amounts and application, weed management, pathology, and insect management. This project is working towards improving the furrow irrigation system for rice. Nine varieties were tested for yield performance. All hybrid rice varieties performed significantly better than the conventional rice varieties. The highest yield of 189 bu/ac was obtained from XL753. Average yield from all hybrid rice varieties was calculated as 174 bu/ac while 130 bu/ac was found for conventional rice varieties. Using a novel irrigation system, a total of 11 ac-in/ac of water was applied from the source, 9 ac-in/ac of rainfall was received, and 7 ac-in/ac of water was lost as runoff which includes runoff from high rainfall events. Annual average water use on contour and precision grade rice systems is 32 ac-in/ac, thus 11 ac-in/ac of irrigation in a furrow irrigated rice system is a substantial reduction in water use. Different fertilizer forms were tested, urea up front, urea applied at two different times, 32% UAN, and ESN treatments were applied to XLCL745 strip plots. The results found in this study suggest that furrow irrigated rice can use different forms of nitrogen without a yield penalty. Fertigation of 32% UAN has substantial benefit if it can be done successfully in the reduction of nitrogen application cost using the irrigation system, something not feasible in flooded rice systems. The Urea-ESN treatment was an attempt to keep more nitrogen available during the season to address the top to bottom shortcoming, but did not have a treatment effect and is hard to justify with the additional cost of ESN. However, additional work with ESN is warranted as an earlier application may have been more advantageous. It was thought that ESN would move during the irrigation event, but did not impact the yield. Additionally, it was believed that UAN would volatilize and that down furrow variability in yield may occur, but did not. Less than a 2 bu/ac difference was observed across the entire nitrogen study. Many growers split nitrogen applications 2-3 times in furrow rice. The results indicate that a one-time application of urea with an inhibitor may be all that is needed for furrow irrigated rice. Additional work is needed to verify that these nitrogen forms can be successfully used in furrow irrigated rice systems.

Using A Mobile App To Plan Rice Irrigation
Presented by Dr. Chris Henry

Assistant Professor & Water Mnaagement Engineer, University or Arkansas
Multiple Inlet Rice Irrigation (MIRI) has been in practice for decades, but new tools are emerging to allow easier implementation of MIRI. MIRI is known to reduce irrigation water use and pumping cost by 24% and effective implementation is needed to properly implement intermittent flooding or alternating wetting and drying (AWD). MIRI reduces the cold water effect of groundwater on upper levees and reduces the flood up time, thus reducing nitrogen volatilization loss potential. The University of Arkansas has developed “Rice Irrigation” a mobile app for implementing MIRI on a tablet or smartphone. The mobile app is available on Google Play and the Apple Play Store and allows for a complete MIRI irrigation plan. One of the major barriers to implementing MIRI is determining the area of each levee. Without this information it is not possible to implement MIRI without guessing the number of holes and gate settings. The app provides for the user three ways to determine levees, if the levee areas are known, they can be entered directly. The levee areas can be traced from maps provided through the app. Finally arcview shape files can be uploaded to the app and the user can identify individual lines and create levee areas from these. Levee location information can be retrieved from survey data when the levees are created or from GPS traces from tractor-based systems when the levees are pulled. Fields with dozens of irregularly shaped levees can be entered accurately in a matter of a few minutes. The user enters the flow rate and the app provides the correct pipe size. A screen is provided which allows the user to identify the riser location and draw the pipeline locations. This allows for the user to optimize placement to minimize pipe length. The app then provides the number of holes per levee, the settings for the blue gates and the length of pipe and number of gates for the plan. The results are saved and can be accessed from any mobile device and exported as a pdf by email or text. MIRI plans can be developed and optimized for very complex fields with multiple risers in a matter of minutes.

My Experiences With Irrigating Peanuts
Presented by B. Jones

Irrigation Breakout Session - Peanuts
Peanuts were a new crop for us and for the most part our area, so irrigating them had a large learning curve. We were not sure how much or when to water them, so we relied on the information from other states that were irrigating peanuts. When we began we were using center pivots to irrigate them, but as we rotated them throughout our farm we started having to water them with furrow irrigation. Since they grow underground and with furrow irrigation you are completely saturating the ground, we were nervous about rotting the crop. The other states that had data on irrigating peanuts only used pivots to water them, there was no data on furrow irrigating peanuts. We took advice from the irrigation specialists at MSU who were doing lots of new things on other crops and tried to apply them to peanuts. We started using moisture sensors and surge valves to help us decide when to water and to help evenly distribute the water through the field. Jones grew up on a farm and received his degree in business from the University of Mississippi in 2001. He worked for a manufacturing company for nine years, then he and his brother, Will, came back to take over the family farm in 2010. They raise 600 acres of peanuts, 1,000 acres each of corn and soybeans, and 1,200 acres of cotton.

Efficenies Gained By Irrigation Automation And Technology
Presented by Nick King

MS Irrigation Consultant, Soybean, Cotton, Corn, Peanuts, Milo, Rice
Irrigating crops is one of the foundations in farming today, but with aquifers in decline the farming community is looking for solutions. In almost all industries technology and innovation have been that solution. Irrigation technologies are changing the way we irrigate our crops and is reducing water usage by farmers by 30%. In order to see this kind of reduction in water usage we typically have to implement several practices. In row crops if a farmer implements soil moisture technology, pump automation, and pipe planner they can see up to 40% reduction. For rice farmers the fully automated rice field is here, and can reduce water usage by 30%. Not only do these technologies reduce water but they increase profitability for the farm.

Irrigation Strategies For Growing A Healthy Cotton Crop
Presented by Trent Lamastus
Mississippi Consultant: Corn, Soybeans, Cotton, Wheat
Farmers make many decisions each growing season that can directly impact the outcome of a crop. Whether or not to irrigate and how often can significantly impact the crop. LaMastus will discuss the signals he uses to determine when to begin irrigation, the timing or frequency of irrigation, and when to terminate irrigation of the crop. LaMastus grew up on a farm in Sunflower County, Miss. He attended Delta State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with a minor in chemistry. While attending DSU, Trent worked for a crop consultant, then he started his consulting business in 1993

Furrow Irrigation Strategies For Peanut Production In The Mississippi Delta
Presented by Stephen Leininger

Extension Associate I, Misissippi State University
Mississippi has experienced a recent expansion in peanut (Arachis hypogaea [L.]) acres, primarily in the Delta region where over half of the state’s peanut acres are now located. To most MS growers, peanut is a new crop, nonetheless, a strong desire to add peanut to existing crop rotations was a primary motivator in requesting Mississippi State University Extension personnel to develop specific management recommendations for Delta-raised peanut. Agricultural practices as well as soil textures vary greatly in the Delta when compared to more traditional peanut producing states in the Southeast. As a result, the majority of current peanut recommendations derive from Land-grant universities located in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. A prevalent thought among many involved with the Ag-industry in Mississippi was, “Can peanut be successful in a furrow irrigated environment?” considering roughly 80% of the Delta is irrigated using this method of delivery. Beginning in 2015, a concerted research effort was established in order to answer a series of peanut-furrow-irrigation questions by means of science-based, field tested studies. The results indicate that peanut can be successful in a furrow irrigated environment.

Management Of Corn Irrigation With A Consideration On Population
Presented by Dr. Wesley M. Porter

Assistant Professor/Extension Precision Ag and Irrigation Specialist, University of Georgia
Corn is typically one of the higher water requiring crops. As populations are adjusted to match the yield potential of the environment, water application should also be adjusted to match the populations. This session will aim to provide information on how to match irrigation requirement and scheduling methods to varying populations.

Field-Scale Test Of Row Rice In The Mid-South
Presented by Michele L. Reba

USDA-ARS-Delta Water Management Research Unit
A detailed study looking at four irrigation water management treatments for rice on 16 production-sized (16.2 ha) fields was undertaken in 2017 in collaboration with rice producers Mike and Ryan Sullivan. The study fields are part of a larger farm operation near Burdette, AR. The irrigation water management treatments were replicated four times in four quadrants and include row-irrigation, cascade flood, multiple-inlet, and multiple-inlet plus alternate wetting and drying (AWD). AWD allows the applied irrigation water to subside until the field gets to a “wet mud” state at which time the field is re-flooded. Conventional flooding maintains a constant flood on the crop from the V4-V5 growth stage (4-5 leaf stage) until the R7 growth stage. All fields were on precision-leveled ground (0.1% slope) and planted with hybrid rice variety XL753. Generally hybrids are known for their shorter growing season and increased drought stress tolerance. Several parameters were measured throughout the field season and include water applied, soil moisture, production costs and plant growth. Yield and milling quality were also evaluated. Initial results will be presented. Understanding irrigation management at the field scale is important to understand the limitations and variability in the impact of a practice. A detailed study looking at four irrigation water management treatments for rice on 16 production-sized (16.2 ha) fields was undertaken in 2017 in collaboration with rice producers Mike and Ryan Sullivan. The study fields are part of a larger farm operation near Burdette, AR. The irrigation water management treatments were replicated four times in four quadrants and include row-irrigation, cascade flood, multiple-inlet, and multiple-inlet plus alternate wetting and drying (AWD). AWD allows the applied irrigation water to subside until the field gets to a “wet mud” state at which time the field is re-flooded. All fields were on precision-leveled ground (0.1% slope) and planted with hybrid rice variety XL753. Initial results on water applied, greenhouse gas emissions and yield are promising using these innovative irrigation practices.

Field-Scale Test Of Row-Irrigated Rice In The Mid-South
Presented by Ryan Sullivan

Arkansas Farmer: Rice
Row-Irrigated Rice in the Mid-South is on the rise. At Florenden Farms in northeastern Arkansas, this practice was started on 120 acres (two fields) in 2016 with good results planted into a stale seedbed following a Soybean crop. In 2017, 638 acres (13 fields) were planted and again results were encouraging. Approximately half (314 ac) of these fields were planted on a stale seedbed following one trip with a McFarland Harrow, one-third (214 ac) was planted on a stale seedbed, and the remaining 110 ac were planted flat followed by a Bedder Roller on 76 in spacing. All of the fields were planted in either Rice Tec XL 753 and XL 760. Analysis of trips across the field and grain yield using the Row Rice System vs. the Straight Levee Rice System were compared on a field by field basis.

Southern USA Rice Production: Sustainability Through The Years
Presented by Tim Walker

General Manager, Horizon Ag LLC
This presentation will attempt to provide a review of sustainability measures adopted by southern USA rice farmers over the past few decades as well as share my insights and experiences with reduced water management practices in rice production.

Making Larger Rice Yields While Curbing Resources
Presented by Jim Whitaker

Arkansas Farmer: Rice, Corn, Soybeans, Cotton
Whitaker will detail his water conservation practices using the newest irrigation methods and automation. He is growing continuous zero grade rice using AWD (alternate wetting and drying). "This reduces our water consumption by 60 percent of the state average. Also, it allows us to participate in all NRCS programs and the new Rice carbon offset program. We have five years experience with AWD and three years of carbon credits that we have generated," he says. He and his brother, Sam, raise 7,000 acres of rice, 1,400 acres of corn and 4,000 acres of soybeans and 1,800 acres of cotton. He has been farming for 24 years.

Agronomic Practices And Irrigation Management Strategies That Optimize Soybean Water Use Efficiency
Presented by Wilks Wood


Mississippi State University, Graduate Research Associate

In the Mississippi Delta, approximately 65% of the farmland is irrigated and the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial aquifer is the primary source. Irrigation withdrawals for row crops is depleting the aquifer at unsustainable rates, with an annual overdraft of 370 million cubic meters of water per year. Furthermore, producers in the Delta region have not fully adopted best irrigation water management practices, furthering the depletion of the aquifer. The purpose of RISER in soybean production is to improve irrigation practices while maintaining or improving yield through use of cultural practices, delivery methods, and soil moisture sensor based scheduling.