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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 #401734

Research Project: Dryland and Irrigated Crop Management Under Limited Water Availability and Drought

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: The importance of reduced evaporative losses with SDI in the Central and Southern High Plains

item Evett, Steven - Steve
item Marek, Gary
item Colaizzi, Paul
item Brauer, David
item HOWELL, SR, TERRY - Retired ARS Employee
item Ruthardt, Brice
item Copeland, Karen

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/17/2023
Publication Date: 7/11/2023
Citation: Evett, S.R., Marek, G.W., Colaizzi, P.D., Brauer, D.K., Howell, Sr, T.A., Ruthardt, B.B., Copeland, K.S. 2023. The importance of reduced evaporative losses with SDI in the Central and Southern High Plains [abstract].2023 ASABE Annual International Meeting, July 9-12, 2023, Omaha, Nebraska. Paper No. 2300521.

Interpretive Summary: The scarcity of water resources in the U.S. Southern High Plains is of regional, national and even international concern due to the fact that the region acts as a breadbasket for the nation and world. The majority of agricultural production in this region depends on irrigation, largely dependent on pumping from the Ogallala or High Plains Aquifer. But the aquifers are declining and yield less water every year. Water scarcity is also made worse by increasing temperature brought about by climate change, which causes evaporative losses from irrigation and overall crop water use to increase. Grain corn, cotton, and sorghum are crops of major importance in the region and serve several regional industries that are regional economic cornerstones. For 10 years, scientists at the USDA ARS Conservation & Production Research Laboratory at Bushland, Texas, studied irrigation evaporative loss reductions that could be obtained using subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) compared with the more common sprinkler irrigation methods to determine the decrease in water use and increase in crop water productivity (yield per unit of water used) that could be obtained by changing to SDI. They determined that SDI could increase the ratio of yield to water use without causing yield decline, thus stretching water further. They also determined that use of subsurface drip irrigation could decrease water use by 10% to 15% compared with conventional sprinkler irrigation, and with equal and sometimes better yield.

Technical Abstract: Dr. Freddie Lamm began investigating surface and subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) as a means to conserve water before most of us who research irrigation in the U.S. Great Plains. He was held in great esteem not only for his research contributions but for his leadership regionally, nationally, and internationally. He constantly gave of himself to support others, and we at Bushland are particularly grateful for his advice and inclusive leadership over many years. His organization of the Central Plains Irrigation Conference with Donna Lamm kept the fires burning for irrigation research and extension over much of the Great Plains, including the Southern High Plains of Texas. Research on SDI at Bushland, Texas began in 1994 with advice and counsel from Freddie, and when we converted two of the large, precision weighing lysimeters and fields to SDI in 2013, Freddie again provided key counsel. This presentation covers the past decade of SDI research at Bushland using large weighing lysimeters with a focus on the reductions of evaporative loss and increases in crop water productivity seen with SDI when compared with sprinkler irrigation. We were blessed to have Freddie in our lives and are blessed to carry his memory with us as we move forward.