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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OPTIMIZING IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT FOR HUMID CLIMATES

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Project Number: 3622-13610-002-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 24, 2007
End Date: Apr 23, 2012

Objective:
Objective 1: Develop methods and evaluate the benefits and limitations of site-specific management technologies for irrigated agriculture in the Mid-South region. Specifically, evaluate the suitability of variable-rate center pivot irrigation for crop production to on the variable soils and varied climatic conditions to determine potential costs and benefits for producers. Objective 2: Determine interactions between irrigation and agronomic practices, and identify cultivars/practices to overcome problems encountered in irrigated cotton and soybean production for the Mid-South region. Specifically, evaluate and optimize production systems for irrigated cotton, corn, and soybean to optimize WUE within timing constraints for field operations and limited growing season (for cotton) of the northern portion of the Mid-South. Objective 3: Determine the impacts of climate change on irrigated crop production and impacts on water quality in the Mid-South region. Specifically, evaluate and relate the quality of runoff from irrigated fields to determine current and potential environmental risks of sediment, nutrients, and/or pesticides leaving the fields.

Approach:
To optimize irrigated crop production and protect soil and water resources in the Mid-South, it is necessary to consider natural soil variability within fields, the range of crops and production systems, and the types of irrigation systems employed. Our interdisciplinary team will address limitations to the overall goal of improving performance, profitability, and sustainability of Mid-South agriculture. We will investigate ways to improve irrigation scheduling and mechanized-irrigation-system management in spatially-variable soils. We will explore use of commercial sensors to provide information regarding crop water status and flood-water depth. Building on our previous research, we will investigate flood tolerance among cotton and soybean cultivars and plant introductions to reduce the risks associated with irrigating in humid climates; and investigate the water quality impacts of irrigated agriculture. We will investigate advantages and limitations to site-specific irrigation. Building on our long-term experience with irrigation scheduling, we will assess the options available for Mid-South irrigators. Site-specific irrigation and rice production system evaluations will include on-farm research with active participation by crop producers and crop advisors. Products of this research will include a sensor system for monitoring rice fields, water-conserving production systems for rice production, and improved flood tolerance for surface-irrigated Mid-South crops.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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