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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Production Systems and Water Management Technology for the Mid South

Location: Crop Production Systems Research Unit

Title: Irrigation methods and scheduling in the delta region of Mississippi: current status and strategies to improve irrigation efficiency

Authors
item Kebede, Hirut
item Fisher, Daniel
item Sui, Ruixiu
item Reddy, Krishna

Submitted to: American Journal of Plant Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 6, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This review briefly summarizes the current status of irrigation practices in the Delta region of Mississippi and the improved methods and tools that are available to increase irrigation efficiency. The Delta region of Mississippi receives about 1100-1500 mm of rainfall annually. However, only 30% of this rainfall occurs during the period when the major crops are produced. Due to this rainfall variability, irrigation is often necessary to minimize crop yield loss and increase profitability. Over 80% of the crops produced in Mississippi are grown in the Delta region and about 65% of the farms in the Delta are irrigated. Almost all the irrigation water used in this region is withdrawn from the shallow Mississippi River Valley Alluvial aquifer. This groundwater is being heavily used as water use for row crops has increased tremendously. Water level in this aquifer has declined significantly over the past twenty five years, with overdraft of approximately 370 million cubic meters per year. Furthermore, the common irrigation practices in the Delta region of Mississippi use excessive amount of water, further depleting the ground water and making irrigation more expensive to the producers with the current increase in energy prices. In order to reduce water use and stop the decline in the aquifer, irrigation experts in this region have tested and verified various methods that increase irrigation efficiency. In this review, these improved irrigation tools and methods are reported. Widespread adoption of these improved irrigation strategies can tremendously reduce water use and fuel energy expenses for producers in the Delta region of Mississippi while decreasing the current overdraft of the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer and ensuring its sustainable use.

Technical Abstract: Even though annual rainfall is plenty in the Delta region of Mississippi, only 30% occurs during the months in which the major crops are produced, making irrigation often necessary to meet crop water needs and to avoid risk of yield loss and profitability. Approximately, 65% of the farmland in this region is irrigated. The shallow Mississippi River Valley Alluvial aquifer is almost the sole source of water for irrigation and for aquaculture in the predominant catfish industry. This groundwater is being heavily used as water use for row crops has increased tremendously. Water levels in this aquifer have declined significantly over the past twenty five years, with overdraft of approximately 370 million cubic meters per year. Moreover, the common irrigation practices in the Delta region of Mississippi use excessive amount of water, further depleting the ground water and making irrigation more expensive to producers due to increasing energy prices. Irrigation experts in the region have tested and verified various methods and tools that increase irrigation efficiency. This article presents a review of the current status of the irrigation practices in the Delta region of Mississippi, and the improved methods and the tools that are available to increase irrigation efficiency in order to reduce energy costs for the producers in the region, and to stop the overdraft of the declining aquifer, ensuring its sustainable use.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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