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Multi-crop Irrigation Research Farm
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Next to land, abundant water for irrigation is arguably our most valuable natural resource in production agriculture. At one time, we thought their was an abundant, almost in-exhaustible, supply of water;  however, the current water situation in the Southeast United States has placed Southwest Georgia right in the middle of a battle between Florida, Alabama, and Georgia for the assurance of an adequate water supply. Production agriculture must find ways to conserve water. The USDA-ARS-NPRL has initiated a comprehensive, long term, multi-crop research project to quantify the impact of irrigation methods and amounts on the Southeast agriculture sector. This multi-disciplinary project involves collaboration with other USDA laboratories and agencies, land grant universities, the Flint River Water Planning and Policy Center (Albany State University), the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and numerous other partners.

Four methods of crop irrigation are being examined including:
conventional sprinkler                     sub-surface drip irrigation
Conventional sprinkler          Sub-surface drip irrigation controls

surface drip                                  irrigation non-irrigated
Field with surface drip irrigation system shown              Peanut field under drought conditions

Within these systems, there are twelve different amounts of irrigation water applied. Five crops including peanut, corn, soybeans, and wheat are planted in the rotation systems. 
A partial list of the research objectives:

? Economic impacts of irrigation methods (preharvest and postharvest impacts) in constrained water supply environments.
? Development of best management practices for constrained and unconstrained water scenarios.
? Cropping systems profitability (short and long term).
? Optimal land use analysis (crops, trees, biofuel).
? Interactions of irrigation methods with pesticide fate and movement among crops in both soil and watershed basin.
? Development, validation, and evaluation of decision models (expert systems) for crop production functions related to water.
? Determine daily and monthly water-use and stress in peanuts under different irrigation regimes.
? Examine the relationship between water and photosynthesis of the plant.
? Relate physiological measurements to soil water status and flux under different irrigation regimes.
? Examine canopy cover and light interception and their relationship to water use physiology.
? Determine long-term water use efficiency variation between different varieties and different crops.

The entire staff of the NPRL are involved in research at this experimental farm facility. For further information contact Marshall Lamb.