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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #321812

Research Project: IMPROVING WATER PRODUCTIVITY AND NEW WATER MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES TO SUSTAIN RURAL ECONOMIES

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Problem area 1 effective water management in agriculture-Product area accomplishments-FY 11 - FY14

Author
item Evett, Steven - Steve

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/22/2015
Publication Date: 6/22/2015
Citation: Evett, S.R. 2015. Problem area 1 effective water management in agriculture-Product area accomplishments-FY 11-FY14 [abstract] National Program 211 Stakeholder Workshop, June 22, 2015, Beltsville, Maryland.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The USDA Agricultural Research Service National Program 211 is composed of four components or problem areas. Problem Area 1, Effective Water Management in Agriculture, focuses on six areas of research that are crucial to safe and effective use of all water resources for agricultural production: 1) Irrigation Scheduling Technologies for Water Productivity; 2) Water Productivity (WP) at Multiple Scales; 3) Irrigation Application Method Effects on WP; 4) Dryland/Rainfed Water Management; 5) Drainage Water Management and Control; and 6) Use of Degraded Waters. In the fiscal years 2011 through 2014, ARS scientists and engineers made substantial progress in addressing these research problems and creating new knowledge, products and outcomes to improve American agricultural production, efficiency of resource use, safety and profitability. New irrigation scheduling technologies created included wireless sensor networks supporting irrigation decisions and invention of sensors such as new, more accurate soil water sensors and wireless infrared sensors for detecting soil water deficits and plant water stress. Two key technologies were patented, one a soil water sensing system and the other a site-specific irrigation management supervisory control and data acquisition system; and both are either commercialized or on their way to commercialization for use by producers. Innovated irrigation application systems included the use of center pivot irrigation for rice production, resulting in better control of spatially variable rice water needs and substantial increases in rice water use efficiency (bushels of rice per inch of irrigation water used). A new remote-sensing-based system combining satellite imagery with the California agricultural weather station system now provides crop water use estimates for 10 million acres in California. And new spatial forecasting and crop simulation tools are enabling enhanced yield of biofuel crops and improved deficit irrigation decisions that increase crop water use efficiency. Irrigation application method changes such as conversion to subsurface drip irrigation were shown to substantially reduce losses of water to evaporation, making more water available to crops. Dryland cropping research improved crop selection strategies for multi-year crop rotations that make better use of available precipitation. Drainage systems research addressed the paradox of too much water in some seasons of the year and short-term summertime droughts but showing the active drainage water management systems could conserve both water and nutrients for use during drier periods. This work resulted in a national NRCS program that reduces nutrient loads in streams, aquifers and lakes. Finally, research on the use of alternative and degraded water resources showed that leaching fractions could be substantially reduced without affecting yield and showed that use of saline water was more productive than previously thought. Research also showed that several species, including mustard, opuntia (cactus) and poplar can be grown successfully using drainage waters height in boron and selenium. In summary, through the development of new management tools, sensors and systems ARS research has substantially increased the production of food, fiber and fuel while not increasing use of water resources, has shown that drainage water control can effectively improve availability of water to crops while reducing nutrient pollution of waterways, and has demonstrated successful use of alternative and degraded waters using new tools for management of these resources.