Submitted to: American Society of Agricultural Engineers Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 28, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: In Arizona, water has always been of foremost concern, especially for irrigated agriculture. Some of the more serious concerns in Arizona include excessive water use, rising water costs, water quality degradation, and in some cases, decreasing crop yields. In this article, an overview is provided of improvements in agricultural water management developed by engineers at the University of Arizona and USDA-ARS, US Water Conservation Laboratory. Developments have included precision land leveling to enable more uniform and efficient irrigation applications; software to determine specifically how to improve the performance of an irrigation system without extensive field studies; remote sensing techniques to quantify crop water status; determination of water requirements of winter vegetable crops; and adoption of newer irrigation technologies such as buried drip and low energy/pressure application systems (LEPA). All of these methods will conserve water, help to improve net returns to farmers, protect the environment, and help to ensure a sustainable water supply for the Arizona public.
Without irrigation, agricultural production would not be possible in much of Arizona. Thus, continued improvement of irrigation techniques is critical for the region's producers to stay competitive in a global economy. This study provides a brief non-technical review of the improvements made in water management by Arizona researchers. These improvements include precision land leveling, drain-back level basins, computer modeling of surface irrigation systems, new crop coefficients for vegetable crops, sub-surface drip irrigation and low energy pressure application (LEPA) system, and remote sensing methods to assess crop water status.