Rancher Implements Regional Weather Networks for Irrigation Scheduling
Whitman County, city of Colfax
Rancher uses approximately 20 percent less water using weather data from a regional weather network and the Washington State University Irrigation program.
Rancher John Pearson, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Washington State University Irrigation Program.
The producer irrigates corn, cereal hay and pasture 45 miles from their base utilizing K-line irrigation. Due to the different crops, soil types and weather in this location compared to the base it was difficult to know when to turn on or turn off the water. The result was a tendency to over water to be on the safe side. This meant using more electricity and an overuse of water and possibly leaching nutrients out of the soil. This also meant unnecessary labor and mileage.
Conservation Programs Used
Conservation Stewardship Program: Implemented the enhancement Regional Weather Networks for Irrigation Scheduling.
The web-based irrigation program combines crop type, stage of growth, and weather data from a regional weather network to figure out the Evapotranspiration Rate. It then accumulates this data along with irrigation applications and rainfall to work out a water balance. Then utilizing soil type data for water holding capacity and estimating rooting depth, a water balance in the soil is computed. This last year it even gave the producer predictions based on weather forecasts. This information could be accessed through the web and also was available on a smart phone utilizing an application.
In the case of the corn, the producer estimates that approximately 20 percent less water was used over a one year period. The producer knew when they needed to be conscious of high Evapotranspiration rate days in August. This resulted in money savings and also in higher yields.
David Jones, Soil Conservationist
NRCS, Winter 2013
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