Production Agriculture Water Conservation

Tips and Practices

underground pipelines

UNDERGROUND PIPELINES

More than 10,000 miles of underground pipeline have been installed within the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 service area to reduce water losses caused by deep percolation and evaporation from open, unlined earthen ditches. Studies by the High Plains Water District indicated water losses of 10 to 30 percent per each 1,000 feet of ditch. The total water loss per foot of ditch in a 2,000 hour irrigation season averages about 5,000 gallons of water.

pivot

CENTER PIVOT SYSTEMS

High-pressure above-line discharge center pivot sprinkler systems had an irrigation application efficiency of about 60 percent. Wind drift and evaporation losses equaled about 40 percent. The High Plains Water District has worked with agricultural researchers, producers, and manufacturers to convert these systems to partial dropline or full dropline LEPA center pivot systems. As a result, very few of the high-pressure systems are in operation today.

The Low Energy Spray Application (LESA) center pivot discharges water between the top of the pivot and the ground. The irrigation application efficiency of this type of system is about 80 percent. Wind drift and evaporation losses are about 20 percent of the water pumped.

lepa

LEPA CENTER PIVOT SYSTEMS

A center pivot system, equipped with full drops, is known as a Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) system. This system can achieve irrigation application efficiencies of up to 95 percent. Since water is applied at low pressure in the furrow, wind drift and evaporation losses are virtually eliminated. As a result, only five percent of the water pumped through the system is lost. Most irrigators use furrow dikes and/or chiseling in the furrow beneath the LEPA system to maximize the uniform water application.

surge

SURGE IRRIGATION

When added to a conventional furrow irrigation system, a time-controlled surge valve can eliminate irrigation tailwater losses, minimize deep percolation losses, and reduce the length of time that water in the furrow is exposed to evaporation. Water savings from 10 to 40 percent have been measured after the addition of surge valves to conventional furrow irrigation systems.

drip

DRIP IRRIGATION

In drip irrigation, buried lines and emitters are used to apply slow, frequent applications of water to the soil directly surrounding plant roots. Water losses caused by evaporation, deep percolation, and runoff are virtually eliminated. Drip irrigation can save as much as 30 to 40 percent of the water required by some other types of irrigation to provide the plants with an equal amount of water.

Producers discuss their actual experiences with drip irrigation in this publication by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and area soil and water conservation districts.

meter

SOIL MOISTURE MONITORING

Soil moisture monitoring is a simple, cost-effective technique producers can use to improve their irrigation water management. Soil moisture monitoring devices, such as gypsum blocks and resistance meters, and tensiometers, help producers determine how much water they need to apply during an irrigation to fill the root zone soil profile. This reduces the likelihood of applying too much or too little water.

This Water Management Note, published by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, describes various soil moisture monitoring techniques, including "feel," gravimetric, moisture blocks and resistance meters, tensiometers, and neutron moisture meters.

furrow

FURROW DIKES

The formation of small earthen dams in the furrow helps conserve precipitation or irrigation water that would otherwise run off the field. Water collected in the furrow dikes is held in place until it can soak into the soil.

This Water Management Note, published by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, describes the use of furrow dikes to reduce runoff and hold irrigation water or rainfall in place until it can soak into the field.

Conservation Tillage

Four producers discuss their actual experiences using conservation tillage practices ("no-till") within the Llano Estacado Regional Water Planning Group (LERWPG) area. This publication is sponsored by the High Plains Water District, the Mesa Water District, the Sandy Land Water District, the South Plains Water District, plus the soil and water conservation districts within the LERWPG.

Estimating Soil Moisture by Feel and Appearance

This Water Management Note, published by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, describes the "feel and appearance" method to determine soil moisture.

System Efficiencies Do Matter

A table demonstrating the efficiency comparison of irrigation application methods used within the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1.

Water Quality Standards and Salinity Management

This publication is from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.