Precision Agriculture and Water Use EfficiencyClint Wilcox http://www.groundwater.org/pe/rainmakers_video.html
Water Use (technical) Efficiency: • The mass of agricultural produce per unit of water consumed.
Water Use (economic) Efficiency: • The value of product(s) produced per unit of water volume consumed.
Water Use (hydraulic) Efficiency: • The portion of water actually used by irrigated agriculture by the volume of water withdrawn.
Why Should We Be Concerned? Water Levels Diminishing Current Issues Causing Inefficiencies Irrigation’s Importance Where It Has to Start Types Or Approaches to WUE Does WUE Have To Involve Irrigation? Reduced Tillage The Economics Involved The Breaking Point Environmental Benefits The Future Water Use Efficency (WUE)
Water Levels Diminishing • It is estimated that since 1940 the Ogallala has been depleted by as much as 10 feet per year. • Projections give it another 100 years of life in some of the deeper areas to less than 25 years in others. • The aquifer reaches 8 different states including Oklahoma, in which 90% of the water that we use as a state is drawn from the ground. • In most areas over 90% of the water pumped from the aquifer is used to irrigate crops.
Current Issues Causing Inefficiencies Out of date technology that is very inefficient (AS PICTURED IN THE BACKGROUND). The overwhelming cost of updating to newer more efficient equipment. Lack of Education on WUE.
Irrigation’s Importance • Irrigation of crops is a definite must. • A mere 16% of the cropland in the United States is under irrigation. • From that 16% comes nearly half the value of all crops sold in the United States.
Where It Has to Start • Overwhelming restrictions on farmers using irrigation is not the answer. • Although some steps do need to be taken to encourage farmer response to the issue. • The standards should be set higher for manufacturers of irrigation equipment. • Efficiency has to become more affordable either with more government funding or other means.
Types Or Approaches to WUE • Improved efficient irrigation equipment and methods. • Taking care of drainage problems • Reducing runoff • Watering at appropriate times • Implementing reduced tillage practices such as no-till, min-till, or strip tillage.
Evapotranspiration • Takes place at the highest rates during the heat of the day. • Heat, humidity, and wind are the largest factors in evapotransporation. • Nighttime or at least late evening and early morning watering are the best and most efficient times to water
Does WUE Have To Involve Irrigation? • No, as said before you can increase WUE by increasing the efficiency of the moisture that nature allows us by using some type of reduced tillage system. • Reduced-tillage systems in dryland crops aren’t going to save our water reservoirs, but they could increase the bottom line for farmers.
Reduced Tillage • Can and will increase the availability of moisture to a plant in irrigated or non-irrigated soils • Stirring the soil in conventional till opens it up for drying out to occur • The soil cover provided by crop residue protects from the drying and evaporating effects of the sun and wind • These systems are a more efficient way to use the moisture that you have available
Drainage • Laser land leveling is a new and very precise device that can be used to solve drainage problems for a price. • Maybe in a more affordable way one could do some surveying and benefit greatly.
Runoff • With the need to conserve water and reduce pumping costs maybe some form of recycling would payoff. • Develop some type of excess runoff water recovery system so that the water can be reused.
The Breaking Point • A lot of center pivots have been parked throughout the great plains due to energy costs in the past year or so. • This cost is incurred by pumping water from wells which are sometimes hundreds of feet deep. The water is gradually becoming deeper due to the lowering of the Ogallala aquifer, which increases the energy required for pumping.
The Economics Involved • The costs are high to improve current equipment or replace it with new, • But, the financial gain is higher now than ever due to increased fuel cost which adds much expense to each gallon of water that is pumped. • Pumping cost have risen to point that many producers have shut their systems down within the last year.
Environmental Benefits • Salinization is a major problem in irrigated soils, with less water applied due to increased efficiencies we could decrease this problem but not eliminate it. • Our water supplies like the Ogallala aquifer are in jeopardy and less water use could help to slow the shrinking or even recharge these systems. • More water can be placed where it is needed with less used; due to better distribution, decreased evaporation, and less runoff.
SOLUTIONS • Instill some kind of reduced tillage method • Check into the government programs such as EQUIP that are available through the FSA and USDA for help with retro-fitting or more efficient upgrades • Water when the evapotranspiration rates are the lowest such as nighttime.
The Future • Is unknown, but looks bleak without some kind of measures being taken. • With increased awareness and steps being taken, the chances look better for the future farmers and their ability to farm for another generation.
REFERENCES • http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/WesternIrrigation/ • http://www.groundwater.org/pe/rainmakers_video.html • http://images.google.com/images?q=Center+Pivot+Irrigation+systems&hl=en&btnG=Search+Images • http://images.google.com/images?q=Flood+irrigation&hl=en • http://www.lanl.gov/chinawater/documents/usagwue.pdf • http://www.libb.com/images/MONEY_1000.JPG