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Irrigating farmers making headway on reducing irrigations and saving money

Congress is on an extended August recess, but that doesn’t mean congressional staffs aren’t staying busy. A group of House and Senate staff members traveled to the Mississippi Delta to learn more about the region’s agriculture and its heritage Aug. 19-21. About 25 staffers spent three days in the Delta, seeing first-hand how farmers are working to reduce their environmental footprint and improve conservation practices. One of those who spoke to the group was Mississippi State University’s Jason Krutz (Krootz).

Krutz said Mississippi State University researchers are working in three areas to help improve irrigation efficiency in the Delta – Use of the Phaucet (Pipe Hole and Universal Crown Evaluation Tool) system, soil moisture sensors and surge valves. The software for Phaucet was developed by engineers with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missouri.

Research plots in Mississippi have shown a 20 percent reduction in fuel and time which translates into savings of about $10 per acre with the Phaucet System. With the soil moisture sensors, farmers have been able to save an average of two irrigation events and have achieved a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in irrigations. By using Phaucet, the soil moisture sensors and surge valves, ag engineers have been able to reduce the amount of irrigation at some of their Extension sites by an average of 40 percent with equivalent yields or better than conventional irrigation.

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