Irrigation scheduling is planning when and how much water to apply in order to maintain healthy plant growth during the growing season while at the same time minimizing the amount of pollutants being leached into the groundwater.
Proper timing of irrigation water applications is a crucial decision for a farm manager to: (1) meet the needs of the crop to prevent yield loss due to water stress; (2) maximize the irrigation water use efficiency resulting in beneficial use and conservation of the local water resources; and (3) minimize the leaching potential of nitrates and certain pesticides that may impact the quality of the groundwater.
Effective irrigation is possible only with regular monitoring of soil water and crop development conditions in the field and the forecasting of future crop water needs. Delaying an irrigation until crop stress is evident or applying too little water can result in substantial yield loss. Applying too much water will result in extra pumping costs, wasted water and increased risk for leaching valuable agrichemicals below the rooting zone and possibly into the groundwater.
Several scheduling tools are available to assist a farm manager in irrigation scheduling. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has partnered with the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (EOT SWCD) to carry out a series of irrigation workshops and expand programs that promote proper water and nitrogen fertilizer management.
For learn more about how irrigation scheduling can benefit our farming operation, please contact East Otter Tail SWCD:
East Otter Tail Soil & Water Conservation District
801 Jenny Ave SW Suite 2
Perham, MN 56573
For more information on Irrigation & Nitrogen Management, please visit MN Dept. of Ag.'s Irrigation & Adaptive Nitrogen Management Program Page.