This is the first of a three-part series on how to decide whether you want to use in-canopy sprinklers or sprinklers at truss rod height or above on a center pivot. Part 1 addresses water losses from a center pivot and when to replace an existing sprinkler package.
Center pivot irrigation now accounts for approximately 85% of the irrigated land in Nebraska. To help growers manage and get the most from their system, Nebraska Extension has published the Center Pivot Irrigation Handbook, a 134-page comprehensive guide.
View corn variety plots and demonstrations of seven irrigation scheduling systems at the Aug. 31 Hamilton County Corn Growers Tour. The seven systems have been monitoring the same field throughout the season, providing a unique opportunity for growers to compare how each system manages similar information.
Take advantage of final crop irrigations this summer to evaluate system performance and identify leaks or problems to fix or aspects to improve over the winter. Taking time now can pay off in improved irrigation efficiency and reduced costs next season.
Given the ups and downs in temperatures this season, crops are likely to mature over a longer period than usual this fall, making it even more important to predict your crop's water needs. The last few irrigations of the season require some of the most important water management decisions of the year.
Corn can sustain moderate water stress during the late vegetative period and may even benefit from it. That's not the case for the critical period from tassel to early grain fill. Using soil water data can help guide your irrigation decisions to maximize your water and energy use to produce crop yield.
Strategies to time crop irrigation for maximum effectiveness suggest delaying irrigation until the critical reproductive growth stages will most benefit yield. This will also help reduce the potential for nitrate leaching.