Sustainable Row Crop Irrigation Management in Louisiana

Project Overview

ES14-122
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $69,167.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2018
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, cotton, sorghum (milo), soybeans

Practices

  • Crop Production: irrigation
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Abstract:

    Proper irrigation is a best management practice that will enhance productivity or increase yields and will help insure the benefits from all other inputs are fully realized.  In addition to increased yields, irrigation can stabilize yield and quality from year to year.  The continued productivity of irrigated agriculture will be critical in Louisiana as the demand for food and fiber continues to grow.  The most common method of irrigating row crops in Louisiana is by furrow using disposable lay-flat tubing.  Though furrow irrigation is not very efficient on its own, this method is used by producers because it is considered economical considering the costs of water and infrastructure costs for alternative irrigation systems.  It has been demonstrated in the Delta region that combining furrow irrigation with technological advances, such as computerized hole size selection, irrigation timing using a soil water balance, and sensors for real-time feedback of plant and soil moisture conditions can produce significant water savings.  The training program was envisioned to provide the trainers and individual limited resource farmers (LRFs) with the tools that are critical for strengthening water resource management in row crop production, which further empowers LRFs to achieve social change.

    Project objectives:

    The primary behavior-based objective is for the participants of this program to incorporate sustainable agricultural practices into integrated irrigation management strategies by implementing the principles and techniques identified below into their education and extension programs.

    • Introduction to sustainable production methods

    Participants learn to identify the critical plant growth stages related to irrigation.  Topics covered under this objective include irrigation initiation, irrigation termination, residue management and cover crops, soil health, soil-water-plant relationships, and irrigation scheduling.

    • Introduction to water conservation technologies

    Participants learn about irrigation design, irrigation efficiency, and water conservation technologies available for improving efficiency. 

    • Introduction to crop-water management practices

    Participants learn about assessing water quality, developing nutrient prescriptions, and tail water recovery systems

    • Maximizing economic efficiency

    Participants learn about investment costs, pumping costs, and relative economic profitability of any changes in irrigation methods and/or irrigation amounts.  An economic calculator, developed as part of the grant, is provided with education on use and applicability.

    • Trainees conducting trainings

    Trainees will be able to use the materials provided to conduct their own training programs through extension.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.