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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT FOR IRRIGATED AGRICULTURE IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST Title: Potential runoff and erosion comparison of center pivot sprinklers on three Idaho soils

Authors
item King, Bradley
item Bjorneberg, David

Submitted to: International Irrigation Show
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2008
Publication Date: November 2, 2008
Citation: King, B.A., Bjorneberg, D.L. 2008. Potential runoff and erosion comparison of center pivot sprinklers on three Idaho soils. In: Proceedings of the 2008 International Irrigation Show, November 2-4, 2008, Anaheim, California. p. 1-12.

Interpretive Summary: Water application rates along the outer portion of a center pivot irrigation system, which influences the most acres, often exceed soil infiltration rates for medium- and fine-textured soils can result in substantial runoff, erosion and spatial non-uniformity in water application depth on rolling topography. The primary emphasis for many center pivot sprinkler product developments and application studies has been high uniformity which really is not the main challenge for good water application at the outer end of the pivot system. Over the past two decades center pivot sprinkler manufacturers have developed sprinklers that minimize peak water application rates while sustaining high application uniformity. As a result there are numerous center pivot sprinkler choices available for the producer but little quantitative information that relates these choices to infiltration, runoff, and erosion on a particular soil. The objective of this study was to evaluate potential runoff and erosion from common commercial center pivot sprinklers on three widely distributed, south central Idaho soils. A modified commercial irrigation boom system was used to emulate center pivot irrigation on experimental runoff plots. Sprinklers used in the study were: 1) Nelson R3000 with brown plate, 2) Nelson R3000 with red plate, 3) Nelson S3000 with purple plate, and 4) Senninger I-Wob with standard 9-groove plate. There were significant differences in runoff and erosion rates between sprinkler types for the soils tested and experimental conditions. The I-Wob exhibited the highest overall runoff and erosion rates and the R3000 sprinklers exhibited the lowest rates for the three soils tested. In general, sprinkler types that visually appear to more uniformly distribute sprinkler droplets over the wetted area with respect to time exhibited the highest runoff and erosion rates.

Technical Abstract: The operational characteristics of center pivot sprinklers are well documented but few studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects that operating characteristics of a particular sprinkler have on infiltration, runoff, and erosion of specific soil types. The objective of this study was to evaluate potential runoff and erosion from common commercial center pivot sprinklers on three widely distributed, south central Idaho soils. A modified commercial irrigation boom system was used to emulate center pivot irrigation on experimental runoff plots. Sprinklers used in the study were: 1) Nelson R3000 with brown plate, 2) Nelson R3000 with red plate, 3) Nelson S3000 with purple plate, and 4) Senninger I-Wob with standard 9-groove plate. There were significant differences in runoff and erosion rates between sprinkler types for the soils tested and experimental conditions. The I-Wob exhibited the highest overall runoff and erosion rates and the R3000 sprinklers exhibited the lowest rates for the three soils tested. In general, sprinkler types that visually appear to more uniformly distribute sprinkler droplets over the wetted area with respect to time exhibited the highest runoff and erosion rates. The relative differences in runoff between the sprinklers tested for the three soils were not directly proportional to drop kinetic energy. This outcome is in conflict with conventional theory on soil surface sealing from droplet impact.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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