Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OPTIMIZING IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT FOR HUMID CLIMATES

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: Irrigation Research Needs in the USA Mid-South and Southeast, Humid and Sub Humid Regions

Authors
item VORIES, EARL
item EVETT, STEVEN

Submitted to: Decennial National Irrigation Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 14, 2010
Publication Date: December 5, 2010
Citation: Vories, E.D., Evett, S.R. 2010. Irrigation Research Needs in the USA Mid-South and Southeast, Humid and Sub Humid Regions. In: Decennial National Irrigation Symposium. 5th National Decennial Irrigation Conference, December 5-8, 2010, Phoenix, Arizona. IRR10-8679.

Interpretive Summary: Irrigated area in the Mid-South and Southeast United States continues to increase greatly in response to economic imperatives and recurring drought even though precipitation in those regions is relatively high. Most new irrigation is supplied from wells and serious problems have arisen regarding groundwater levels; irrigation management is difficult and appropriate methods are not well identified. However, at the same time that irrigation has rapidly increased, research and extension personnel focusing on irrigation have declined in number in the region and a combined state and federal response to these challenges is needed to provide appropriate and effective problem solutions that ensure efficient water use and high crop water productivity while protecting water supplies and the environment. Farmers will benefit from the information available due to increased attention to irrigation and water management research; however, everyone will benefit from the improved stewardship of the water resources in the region.

Technical Abstract: Irrigated area in the Mid-South and Southeast United States continues to increase greatly in response to economic imperatives (risk avoidance) and recurring short- and long-term drought conditions, and now totals 4 million ha even though mean annual precipitation in those regions exceeds 1 m. Most new irrigation is supplied from wells, meaning that the water is pressurized and possibilities for improved irrigation efficiencies exist, but also causing aquifer declines. With irrigation comes a more stable production environment, which encourages increased plant densities and associated fertilizer and pesticide inputs, which must be appropriately managed to prevent ground and surface water pollution. Because of commonly low available water holding capacities and root-limiting layers at shallow depths in many soils in these regions, irrigation management is difficult and appropriate methods are not well identified. Water quality and water use efficiency impacts under irrigation are also poorly understood, but must be understood if conversion from well water to surface water supplies is to be justified. At the same time that irrigation has rapidly increased, research and extension personnel focusing on irrigation have declined in number in the region; and the ARS irrigation research effort has not increased in the region in response to the new challenges of irrigation to provide food and fiber for an expanding population. A combined state and federal response to these challenges is needed to provide appropriate and effective problem solutions that ensure efficient water use and high crop water productivity while protecting water supplies and the environment.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page