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Irrigation workshops to cover new technology tools

The workshops were intentionally scheduled before Georgia cotton and peanut farmers plant this year’s crops.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension will host two free workshops in March to show Georgia and Florida cotton and peanut growers how to increase yield and profitability through technology-driven irrigation tools.

Attendees will learn about how to use irrigation scheduling techniques such as UGA's checkbook method and the SmartIrrigation Cotton app and IrrigatorPro app.

“Farmers will have an opportunity, independent of the county meetings this winter, to get together and learn about what advanced irrigation scheduling tools and techniques there are out there and how they can apply them on their farms,” said Wes Porter, UGA Extension irrigation specialist.

Adam Rabinowitz, UGA Extension agricultural economist, will discuss the capital costs associated with adopting these irrigation tools, the projected return on investment, the annual operating costs of equipment and any associated management expenses.

“There’s certainly a need for workshops like these. There’s a need to get farmers familiar with these methods, including the different technologies and apps and soil moisture sensors that are available to them,” Rabinowitz said. “We’re trying to keep the farmers profitable but also help them increase their crop per drop and be good stewards of the water here in Georgia.”

The workshops will be held March 18 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia, and March 25 at the Nessmith-Lane Center at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. The conferences will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will also be a discussion about Georgia’s climate, including a look back at 2018 which was highlighted by a wet three-week period in May and Hurricane Michael in October. A representative from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will also be in attendance to discuss regulations and planning regarding the use of water for agricultural purposes. Additionally, there will be a talk focused on irrigating in Florida, including regulatory impacts for agriculture.

The workshops were intentionally scheduled before Georgia cotton and peanut farmers plant this year’s crops. Peanuts are mostly planted in April and May once the threat of late spring freezes has passed. The majority of the state’s cotton crop is planted in May, although some acreage is planted in April, weather permitting.

“We tried to set the timing just before the farmers start getting their crops in the ground. The information they will learn at these workshops will be fresh on their minds. They’ll understand what they need to do when they get ready to start irrigating,” Porter said.

The workshops are being offered as part of a broader UGA Extension multidisciplinary project focused on increasing agricultural water-use efficiency in Georgia. Support for the workshops is provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center.

The workshops are free and a networking lunch will be provided, but those who are interested should pre-register at http://bit.ly/ugairrigation. For more information or to register by phone, please call (229) 386-3512.

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