Irrigation is not a new idea to the South, but the way farmers can now approach it is. With the use of Pipe Planner, a free web-based computer program from Delta Plastics, farmers can see how to conserve water while still providing their crops with the moisture they need.
The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board and Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board partnered with Delta Plastics to create a how-to video that helps farmers take the guesswork out of furrow irrigation by demonstrating how to use Pipe Planner.
The video helps farmers determine precisely what size holes to punch in their polypipe and how long their system needs to operate to replenish water in the root zone.
“For the last few years, MSPB has been highlighting and promoting Sustainable Irrigation Practices (SIP) that will help reduce the amount of irrigation water applied to the state’s crop acres,” says Tim Clements, MSPB chairman and Greenville, Miss., farmer. “Similar past programs have been a challenge to implement, and MSPB hopes this video will help streamline the implementation process of the user-friendly Pipe Planner.”
Data show the water level in the Delta’s aquifer is declining, but water conservation can be an important component of reducing the aquifer decline in the future. Mississippi farmers realize the need to save water, and many are becoming enthusiastic users of Pipe Planner, which can help farmers cut their water usage by as much as 20 percent.
Farmers can use Pipe Planner to determine the best hole sizes to punch along the length of a polypipe irrigation set to help water a field evenly with minimal outflow at the end. Farmers can visit MSPB’s website to view the video. It walks them through the program’s process step-by-step to calculate hole sizes based on pump capacity along the tubing, pipe diameter, the different row lengths that will be encountered along an irrigation set, and the elevation changes in a field.
“Effectively using Pipe Planner can create significant savings in irrigation costs for the producer,” says Chris DeClerk, irrigation specialist with Delta Plastics. “It also boosts confidence in irrigating fields that have been difficult in the past. Being confident with our irrigation practices makes us better managers of our operations, and being better managers makes us better stewards of our resources.”
According to DeClerk, farmers have implemented Pipe Planner on their farms for a total planned acreage of 177,695. Conservative estimates indicate this irrigation efficiency will result in a reduction in annual irrigation water usage of 33 billion gallons.
The voluntary adoption of these conservation tools and technologies should help farmers conserve the Delta’s water resources, says DeClerk.