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Moisture sensors helping Delta specialists reduce irrigation pumping

The water table in the alluvial aquifer beneath the Mississippi Delta is declining, and that means farmer pumping costs will continue to rise. Fortunately, growers have a team of Extension specialists who are determined to reduce water usage in the region.

Irrigation Specialist Jason Krutz talked about the situation with the alluvial aquifer in the Mississippi Delta and the challenges growers face in preventing further drawdown of the water in an Irrigation, Voluntary Metering Program & Water Conservation Roundtable at the Delta Ag Expo in Cleveland, Miss., Thursday (Jan. 23).

“Starting out, we’ll look at our results on our corn and soybean program up and down the Delta,” said Jason Krutz, irrigation specialist with Mississippi State University, who kicked off the session with a team of specialists from Mississippi. “We will talk about means to improve irrigation applications; timing, when do we pull the trigger because that is one of the No. 1 questions you asked me.

“That is, ‘When do I start, when do I stop and what do I do if I get a rainfall event in the middle? As a team, our solution is you soil moisture sensors. There are other techniques out there, and I’m not really concerned about them. We know these things work because we rolled them out in an extensive format, and we beat you in nearly every field we were in using soil moisture sensors and plant physiology.”

With 80 percent of the Delta’s irrigation coming from furrow watering systems, Krutz said, farmers are also asking specialists “to make us better furrow irrigators.

“To do that, we will have to improve on how that furrow irrigation system is delivering water,” he noted. “We have two techniques for doing that. We have surge irrigation and some kind of computerized hole selection system whether it be PHAUCET or Delta Plastics Pipe Planner.”

PHAUCET or Pipe Hole and Universal Crown Evaluation Tool and Pipe Planner are programs that enable growers to determine the most efficient size of plastic tubing, gallonage and hole placement for flexible irrigation pipe. PHAUCET has been around a number of years while Pipe Planner is a relatively recent innovation.

To learn more about PHAUCET, click on

Growers say utilizing PHAUCET has helped them cut water usage and pumping costs by up to 50 percent in many fields.

Krutz went through a series of case studies where MSU specialists used a combination of soil moisture sensors and the PHAUCET program in farmers’ field and produced the same or better yields than growers harvested at less cost and 40 percent to 50 percent of the amount of water.

This is the first of several videos that will appear on in the days ahead talking about irrigation best practices and conservation in the Mississippi Delta.

To read more about irrigation in the Delta, click on



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