Online Irrigation Cost Calculator Released

Online Irrigation Cost Calculator Released

Irrigation Cost Calendar, a new online tool to calculate center pivot irrigation costs, is available at In addition to calculating your total irrigation costs, it can calculate the cost of using a pivot to irrigate a parcel on adjoining land.

This tool is accessible through your Web browser (for example, Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox). You enter data specific to your operation and calculations are made on a remote server. You can choose to save your data for later reference or to input various options to compare costs.

Irrigation Cost CalculatorTo use this tool, you'll need to gather some key information:

  • Operating data such as interest rates, wage rates, area irrigated and inches applied, diesel price or electricity rates, and drip oil price. (Energy costs may be estimated from pumping lift, system pressure, and pumping plant efficiency or from historical data such as past energy costs, past fuel prices or electrical rates, and past application rates.)
  • Ownership costs such as the estimated replacement price, expected life and the salvage values for the well, pump, power plant, gear head, and sprinkler system.

Calculated output includes fixed and variable costs calculated per-acre and per-acre-inch of water applied. The functions used for the calculations come from a spreadsheet called "IrriCost" that was created by former UNL Extension Educator Tom Dorn.

Fair Share Feature for Adjoining Parcels

After these costs have been calculated, you can use the "Fair Share" feature to estimate the cost for running a center pivot over adjacent land. Additional data needed for these calculations are the number of adjacent acres to be irrigated and the estimated acre inches that will be applied. The "fair share" can be calculated on the added acres irrigated or on the amount of water applied. This feature has two components: fixed and variable costs. The fixed cost is an annual cost and the variable cost is for acre-inches of water applied.

User Guide

The Irrigation Cost Calculator web page includes a video on how to use this tool.

Mobile Apps for Irrigation Management

Earlier this year UNL Extension introduced three mobile apps to aid in irrigation management, which are described further in CropWatch:

Agriculture Irrigation Costs App. Calculates ownership and operating costs for center pivot and gated pipe irrigation systems and the most commonly used energy sources. This tool is based on the same resource as the Irrigation Cost Calculator web tool described above. The Web app is a "quick and dirty" means to calculate costs, while the mobile app offers more options for testing and analyzing various options. The mobile app offers side-by-side comparisons for systems that use different energy sources, analysis of gated pipe as well as center pivot systems, separation of landowner and tenant costs, and calculating yield increases necessary to pay for application of an extra inch of water.

Irrigation Pumping Plant Efficiency. Helps you identify irrigation pumping plants that are underperforming and need to be adjusted, repaired, or replaced with a better design.

Water Meter Calculator App. Calculates the amount of water pumped by irrigation pumping plants and can store data such as field size (in acres), flow meter units, and allocation and annual irrigation caps for each field.

Roger Wilson
Extension Farm Management Specialist and Budget Analyst