Irrigation enhances productivity and profitability of crops and has been an important agricultural tool since it was first used around 6000 B.C. when people are believed to have carried buckets of water from wells or rivers to pour on their crops.
Irrigation technology has changed over time and Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service specialists are ready to show South Carolina growers using center pivot irrigation systems how they can benefit from keeping their systems operating properly.
Two meetings/workshops are scheduled in February for specialists and researchers to talk with growers about center pivot irrigation and demonstrate the Clemson Center Pivot Irrigation Test Program (CPIT), a testing service in which specialists conduct health check-ups for the irrigation rigs.
“The objective of this program is to provide a health check of center pivot irrigation systems,” said Becky Davis, Clemson Extension water resources agent. “Among other things, these tests measure irrigation uniformity.”
“Lack of uniformity contributes to higher costs for growers and wasted water resources,” said Karen Jackson, also a Clemson Extension water resources agent.
The first meeting is scheduled for Feb. 14 at the Edisto Research and Education Center (REC), 64 Research Road, Blackville, South Carolina 29817. The second meeting is slated for Feb. 22 at the Pee Dee REC, 2200 Pocket Rd. Florence, South Carolina 29506. Both meetings will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre-registration is required. To register, visit tinyurl.com/edistoirrigation for the Edisto meeting or tinyurl.com/pdirrigation for the Pee Dee meeting.
In addition to the CPIT presentations, Kendall Kirk, water resources team member and Clemson Extension precision agriculture engineer, will talk about fertilizer injection and how to use Clemson’s online web apps to put the “easy-button” on center pivot fertigation.
Michael Plumblee, assistant professor of agronomy, will talk about irrigation scheduling and soil moisture sensors, including crop water-use demand, benefits of scheduling irrigation with soil moisture sensors, how to determine when to irrigate using a sensor and threshold development, as well as data interpretation.
“I also plan to share some of the soil moisture sensor research that we have conducted at Edisto REC in cotton and soybean over the past few years,” Plumblee said.
Representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) will talk about financial and technical assistance available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP.
“We’ll be available during lunch and during breaks to talk with anyone who needs more information about the program,” said Mike Lott, resource conservationist with the NRCS.
Other speakers include Jose Payero, assistant professor and irrigation specialist, who will talk about variable frequency drives and pump performance. At the Edisto meeting, Deke Wiggins representing Dominion EnergyWise for Your Business will talk about agricultural energy efficiency incentives. Other topics to be covered include electrical safety and electric rate schedules related to center pivot irrigation. Lunch will be served.
Tradeshows featuring irrigation industry sponsors will be held during both workshops.
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