Listen to my conversation with Daran Rudnick by clicking on the Soundcloud link above.
The Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) Farm Management competition, entering its second year, gives participants a chance to make any management decision, including hybrid selection, planting population, nitrogen management, irrigation, crop insurance and grain marketing.
Participants are recognized for being the most profitable, the most efficient, and finally, achieving the highest yield. The goal is encouraging participants to strive, first and foremost, for profitability.
In the latest episode of Down in the Weeds, Daran Rudnick, Nebraska Extension irrigation management specialist and one of the organizers of the competition, discusses some of the takeaways from the 2017 competition, including different factors contributing to irrigation efficiency.
"Last year, we had considerable differences in terms of management decisions. Specifically, we had a range of 2.5 inches to nearly 11 inches of applied water across our contestants and their plots. That translated into quite a bit of difference in terms of ET, or evapotranspiration, which is one of the drivers in how we calculated our irrigation efficiency as part of the contest," Rudnick says. "The ET on average was approximately 24 inches, which is pretty typical in our area. Our control treatment was quite a bit lower, as expected, because it received zero irrigation. Our max contestant had close to 25.7 inches of ET. When we look at that in terms of irrigation efficiency, we calculated irrigation efficiency based on as we applied that inch of water. We wanted that inch of water to go into evapotranspiration. What we did not want is that water to be left in the soil profile, to run off the field or to percolate."
"An irrigation efficiency of 1 would mean that all the water we put into that field would have gone into ET. On average, we had an irrigation efficiency of 1.05. On average, we did an extremely great job of managing our irrigation," Rudnick adds. "Of the 15 farms, about half of those farms had a value of 0.95 and greater, or 0.95 or lower. The take-home on that is the higher irrigation efficiency was, they were targeting some critical growth stages, and they allowed that crop to be healthier for a longer duration of time, and they actually could capture more stored precipitation throughout the growing season."