State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2011MS137B
Title: Water-Conserving Irrigation Systems for Furrow & Flood Irrigated Crops in the Mississippi Delta
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2011
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: 3rd
Focus Categories: Irrigation, Water Quantity, Non Point Pollution
Keywords: Surface and groundwater management, water quality
Principal Investigator: Massey, Joseph H.
Federal Funds: $ 18,039
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 44,027
Abstract: This proposal requests funds for the continuation of research begun in 2010. Significant progress was made during the 2010 field season, particularly in the demonstration of a 50% water savings in rice production and that 14 commercial rice varieties produced well under intermittent flooding. Difficulties were experienced at several farm locations comparing water use in furrow-irrigated soybean with and without use of the USDA-NRCS Phaucet program. Additional field trials will be necessary to determine the utility of the Phaucet program. The continuing goal of this project is to improve water use efficiency for one of the most economically important cropping rotations practiced in the delta, the soybean-rice rotation. These crops are typically grown where two years of soybean are followed by one year of rice. Together, these crops are grown about one million acres and represented approximately $500 million (soybean) and $100 million (rice) in economic activity for the Mississippi Delta in 2007. Based on recent MS delta crop production acreages and historical water use patterns, irrigated soybeans are the single largest user of irrigation water (~1.25 million Ac-ft/season) while rice uses the largest amount of water on a per acre basis (~3 Ac-ft/Ac) totaling ~750,000 Ac-ft/season. Thus, a relatively modest 15% reduction in the amount of irrigation water used in the soybean-rice rotation could essentially eliminate the current overdraft of the alluvial aquifer. This is an on-farm project that will couple readily-adoptable irrigation practices and technologies that have the potential to reduce water use in furrow-irrigated soybean by ≥ 25% and up to 50% in rice as compared to conventional irrigation practices. By reducing irrigation inputs in soybean and rice production, reductions in energy use (and related C emissions) and non-point source runoff of agrochemicals are also to be expected. This project has the potential to improve water use efficiency on over one million irrigated acres in the Mississippi Delta, and will also lay the groundwork for the development of whole-farm water management programs. By working with growers on their farms, the systems developed in this project will be suited to conditions found in the Mississippi Delta.

Progress/Completion Report, 2011, PDF

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