Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Working on Irrigation Systems

Posted by romeethredge on March 18, 2013

Donny Roland of TriState Irrigation and farmer and crop scout Jimmy Miller and I checked the flow of water in gallons per minute at this pivot just west of Donalsonville this week. Thanks to Seldom Rest Farm for the use of their flowmeter. The flow at the pivot is important for coming up with the right sprinkler package. These drop nozzles with sprays save water by getting it closer to the ground.

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Get your irrigation system ready for the year UGA Engineers, by Gary L. Hawkins & Calvin Perry, UGA Scientists

South Georgia has received many  inches of rain in the past couple weeks.   All of this rain has filled some ponds, filled the rivers and also  flooded some areas.  Even though we can  see the direct effects of the precipitation we received recently, we need not  forget that water is the “life blood” of all crops.  As such, while farmers are getting their  plows, planters, sprayers and other equipment ready, their irrigation system  should not be overlooked.

For those farmers with irrigation  systems, now would be a good time to think back to the previous growing season  and try to remember what repairs need to be made on old and new irrigation  systems alike.  These repairs could be  replacing broken sprinklers, repairing broken boots, fixing the small leaks,  changing gaskets or just doing some general maintenance.  All of these fixes are related to the  infrastructure of the irrigation system (mainly the center pivot system itself).  Besides the structure, the farmer should also  do some general maintenance on the pumping unit.  For diesel pumping units that could  potentially mean changing filters, checking bearings, checking gaskets or  generally doing a tune-up of the engine.   For electric units, general cleaning could help reduce losses at the  pumping unit therefore delivering more water to the plants.  For traveler systems checking the speed  controls can ensure proper application rates of water to the plants.

Irrespective of what type system is  used to deliver water to the plants, now would be a good time to perform a  calibration of the system.  This  calibration, usually in the form of a uniformity test, should be easily done in  fields without any cover or should be easy to perform in fields with cover  crops after these crops are killed and prior to planting.  Performing this calibration will provide the  farmer with information on how much water will be delivered to the crop during  the growing season.  During calibration, the  farmer can note any repairs that might need to be performed to the irrigation  system prior to the season beginning. Your local county extension agent should  be able to help you get started with the calibration. Cooperative Extension has  a publication that should also help: http://www.caes.uga.edu/applications/publications/files/pdf/C%20911_3.PDF.

In addition to calibration and  repairs, this is a good time to consider the sprinklers that deliver the water  to your crops. There are many new types of low-pressure spray-type sprinklers  available from Senninger and Nelson. These new designs include the “i-Wob” from  Senninger and the “Orbitor” from Nelson. Both deliver good uniformity of  droplets at lower pressures and are well suited for irrigating low growing  crops like peanuts. Your local irrigation dealer should be able to assist you  with sprinkler selections.

As we dry out from the recent rains  and get ready for the growing season, the irrigation system should not be  forgotten.  In these weeks before  planting, performing basic checks, calibrations and repairs on the irrigation systems  will help the farmer deliver water to the growing crop more efficiently.  Similarly, installation of new, modern sprinklers may be just the ticket to  apply your irrigation water as uniformly as possible.

Those farmers in dryland situations  who depend on timely rains for germination of seed may be in luck with the  recent rains providing a moist soil profile that can provide ample moisture at  planting.  Farmers using conservation  systems should be able to gain some additional growth of cover crops which when  killed may provide protection of the soil to have ample moisture at  planting.

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