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Current Irrigation Issues and Options for Improvements in Georgia and Alabama


– [Moderator] Okay our next speaker
is Doctor Wesley Porter, he’s an Extension irrigation specialist. He has a very unique Extension appointment across two states, and he’s gonna talk about
current irrigation issues and options for improvement
in Alabama and Georgia. – [Dr. Wesley Porter] Thanks Joe. This picking up good enough out there? Alright, so I’m split
between I think I’ve met a lot of y’all before, know
a lot of people in here, but split between two states. And so I’m based out of Tifton, Georgia, but I cover the entirety. You can ask anybody in here, I’ve spent time from all
the way in eastern Georgia and I’ve been all the way
out to the far western part of the state in Alabama, our to the Ds and some other regions, and I’m spent some time up near Belmana, so can’t accuse me of not
traveling across the state and trying to get around. A few people might
think I haven’t been out to there place, just give me a call, I’ll head out that way
if you got any issues. But since SWAT did a good
job of just covering some of the soil moisture sensors, data that’s kind of tied
to those implications and all that stuff with that, I want to take a different approach and you can see the
title of my presentation is current irrigation issues and options. So I focused a lot of my
presentation on issues. Before I step into it, do we have any lawyers or
politicians in the room? I hope not, because I don’t
want to be held responsible for anything I’m about to say or any information I’m about to present. So kind of like I said, I
took a different approach and really divulged into it. So first let’s just quick background, you know there’s many similarities between the two states you know, but there might be some huge
differences in crop production and crop production practices. You know regions first off, you know in Georgia
predominately if we look in the southern part of the state, that’s where all of our ag is pretty much, our row crop ag if you look
at it from that standpoint, is produced, you know we
get well below Atlanta, you know in our coastal
plains region and all that that’s where we start
seeing everything produced. You know in Alabama we’re a
little bit different there, we have production in
that part of the state, you get back in the
northern part of the state we have a lot of production up there too. You know once we get
farther north of Birmingham up into the Tennessee valley region up around Montgomery and all that. So it’s kind of split there, where Georgia you get
up into the mountains, we don’t do hardly any
row crop ag up there, you know you’ll find some poultry farms, you’ll find some pecan trees, you know et cetera, et cetera. Agricultural production so we do have some similarities there but
Georgia you know we do a lot of cotton there, we’re number two in the nation in cotton. Number one in peanuts. You know we have those crops in Alabama, but it may be lagging a little
behind on some of the acreage and maybe that’s some of the demographics that’s happening there
where some of the crop production regions are
and everything else. Water source, definitely different. You know that’s one of
the biggest things I think the issues we run into
when I come from Georgia over to Alabama. You know I’m based in Tifton, Georgia, you know down in kind of the
southern part of the state where you know historically
we’ve had very easy access to water, you know very easy access to
shallow aquifers and all that. And then I come over here to Alabama and I’m gonna show some
maps that’ll show some of the stuff that I’m talking about. In the southeastern part of
Alabama that may be true. Kind of move out of that region, you know we have some
challenges you have to face. Those of you that farm, you know that. And finding that water
source that you need is kind of hard to do. So what are we doing about that. Then irrigated acres,
of course there’s a huge difference in irrigated acres, and I’m gonna show some
maps between the two states. I didn’t directly compare the two, that was not my point here. So I kind of took approach
and went through one state and then we’ll go through the other and talk about options. In the southeast of Georgia
is the most advanced states when it comes to irrigation management. You know at least in the Southeast, you know SWATs coming
from kind of the Midwest, Nebraska is one of the
premier irrigation research institutions there, they have a lot of stuff
that comes out of there, they do a lot of work. But that’s driven by need. Basically I don’t think he
divulged into it at all, but they have limited
water in certain areas where they know they might
only have four inches of water for the whole season, or six or eight inches of water. That’s what you have, you gotta do something
to manage that little bit of water you have, you’ve gotta get in on
at the proper times, in the proper rates, there’s no wasting the water, there’s no running a pivot continuously, you know none of that. They know going into the season
I have eight inches of water when do I put it on. So we’re a little different
than that in the Southeast and Georgia I thinks
progressed a lot faster than some of the other states here due to some of the issues
that’ve been pressed there. You know we’ve had water
shortages, we’ve had it there, and we’ve kind of went
through the development stage, also and we have legislation
that starts hitting and we gotta make some changes. So there’s a lot of
technologies folks from irrigation management that
have came out of Georgia and been developed there. We got a lot of online scheduling tools, some variable irrigations, soil moisture sensor systems, some scheduling apps you
know et cetera, et cetera. The list goes on, I didn’t go on and name particular ones but they’re out there
and they’re available. And there’s always traditionally we’ve had more easy access to water
in most of the state, it’s been easy to get. Permitting is there, you
gotta go through kind of an extensive process to get a permit to do either well or surface water. Once you get that permit
you know depending on what region you’re in, you can get the water fairly easily. And you know if you look
around at our consultants, it’s kind of a nice thing
that we have is a lot of the consultants in Georgia, especially the southern
part and southwestern part of the state offer irrigation scheduling or irrigation management
as one of their services. So that’s another thing that
kind of helps push that, you know if you can
pay somebody to come in and help you do a good job
managing your irrigation, you know it kind of
makes you want to do that a little more rather than
just blindly going about it. So center pivot irrigation systems, I just want to kind of show
you between the two states, what it looks like. And this is what I’m talking about, the heavy concentration that
we have in southwest Georgia, I mean we have some
sporadically throughout, but we don’t have large
production ag up in these regions. And again this is center pivot. So you know some of these may be turf, some may be some other types of production we get farther north,
little bit of crop land, but very very little. Most of it’s in here and again
we get in this aquifer here, and we’re very very heavily, we’re looking at water
tables, they’re very high, so we’re heavily laden with wells and irrigation systems here. So we do have irrigation research park, strategically placed it down there, I do a lot of my research there, there’s a lot of good research
that’s came out of here, it’s been operating for
about 15 or 20 years. Try to place it in as close
as a center area as we could, we have a producer that
donated the land for it there, so that’s kind of partly the location, but the rest of it is more political and we want it in where all
this irrigation is occurring. So what is our irrigated
acres and water use look like. This is lagging behind some, we don’t have it completely up to date, working on some of that stuff, I’m working on getting a new survey out, everything else, but
irrigated acres in 2005, you know this is in thousands of acres. Again heavy concentration down here. Very very little to none up
in this part of the state. So we look at water use, what is it like a million gallons per day. You know we’re talking pretty significant, somewhere from 20 to 40
million gallons per day in these dark green areas. Again, the same region here
and it’s kind of spread across where our center pivots systems were. So in 1970 and we’re
looking at a long time ago, but even still in 1970
we had 144,000 acres of irrigated land, it
was 87 center pivots. Now we’re over a million
acres almost at one point two million acres, 13,000 center pivots. So rapid, rapid, expansion. And we’re starting to
see that in Alabama too. So permitted withdrawals, we kind of saw a picture of
this earlier for Alabama, no for Nebraska he’d shown this. So we’re definitely not as
thick as what Nebraska is, and we’re sporadic up and down. But these are all permitted withdrawals for irrigation within the state. A lot of these, like I said
we have some poultry farms, pecan orchards, all that
stuff in the northern part of the state. You got groundwater sources,
surface water sources. So again, you got that
concentration of black right here out of the Floridan aquifer where we are drawing water out of it. And then you might have
a lot of surface water up in there where there’s
creeks, basins, reservoirs, and all that throughout the state. So here’s the political
stuff that I normally don’t like to talk about and I try to stay away
from it most of my talks, but again technical
stuff’s covered so we’re talking about water issues, so why are we where we’re at and where do we need to be going, and what may happen in
either state out and back. And so the water wars
basically this stuff started in 1956 the Corps of Engineers
constructed Buford Dam and created Lake Lanier. Dam’s on the Chattahoochee river. So why is that important? Lake Lanier, here’s
Atlanta, here’s Lake Lanier. Chattahoochee river dumps out okay. Why are we talking about
something in the northern part of the state when we’re down here where all our irrigated acres are. And we’ll kind of work on
and look at that in a second. So ’89, let’s move ahead, they released a report that
recommended that a portion of the water being used
for hydropower should be reallocated for the water
supply in the Atlanta region. Of course we have a rapid
city expansion growing, everybody knows how large Atlanta is, we’re only 90 miles from it right now. It’s the biggest city of the region. ‘Course it’s high water use, people need water there
just like they do for ag, and who typically gets priority, I mean are we gonna make
people go without water or we gonna make crops. ‘Course we know who’s
gonna win that battle, especially when a high
concentration of the population lands in cities like that. So move onto ’89, the Corps formally set
minimum flow for the dam at Lake Seminole. So this is a lake dumping into Florida, and you see why I support it in a minute, at 5,000 cubic feet per second, draft water control plan for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint
River basin. So we’re starting to look at it, we’re starting to pull the
Chattahoochee into this, starting to talk about why it’s important to Alabama at the same time. I’m not just covering Georgia even though I’m on the Georgia portion of my talk. So 1990 Alabama filed
a lawsuit challenging the Corps reallocation plan. Basically they say that the
reallocation of the water would favor Georgia’s interest. They’re saying all the
Chattahoochee water’s getting pushed towards Georgia,
not towards Alabama, they’re not getting enough. So they’re violating some laws and causing environmental
impacts and everything else in the way they’re allocating it. So if we look really quick
to see what that really means and adhering to that law, these are just erroneous data here, just a couple points in the loggers, we looked just through 2012 until 2014 and we know we have a very
very bad drought in 2012 right, does everybody remember that, when it kind of dried out, you know we were in kind of bad shape. But during that bad drought,
no matter how bad it was, we stopped at 5,000,
here’s your 5,000 level, no matter what’s going on upstream, 5,000 cubic feet per second
has to keep flowing out to get down to Florida. So most of the time we’re good, we’re well above that and we’re fine. This is when the issue
started ensuing here, when you can’t withdraw
anymore water because law states this much has to come out, so you have access no longer. So what does it matter, why are we looking at
it from all the way up in the beginning Atlanta,
moving our way down, we’re starting at the watershed up here and it’s flowing down
through the Flint River basin basically and the ACF basin, comes out and flows all the way down, see the Chattahoochee
river here on the border, coming down through the
counties into Lake Seminole, and this is basically the Georgia border and this is where we’re flowing out, where we’re looking at
that outlet flow here, it’s coming out of the
dam of the lake right here flowing into Florida. So where do we stand right
now and this is where the big issues are
starting because a court case has been taken up. But October 2013 Governor Rick Scott and the state attorney
general filed a suit in U.S. Supreme Court so
it’s getting serious now, it’s no longer just between the states, we’re going to the supreme court level. We’re getting very very serious and stuff’s really starting
to happen and hurtin’. Claiming Georgia withdraws
too much water from the Chattahoochee River
system north of Lake Lanier to serve the growing Atlanta region. So it’s getting pointed towards Atlanta but who ends up taking the issues, we’ll see that in a second, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
reiterated determination to defend Georgia’s water
rights from a frivolous lawsuit. So at that point they said
this is never gonna make it, it’s not going anywhere, it’s frivolous, they’re just blowing smoke, whatever else, but however recently they
decided to take it up. So now it’s gotten serious, the frivolous all of the sudden said, the Supreme Court said
we’re gonna take it, we’re gonna look at it, and they’ve appointed people
to overlook this case. So here’s the official documents, you know Wall Street Journal, page of it, just a quick headline
saying Florida sues Georgia over water use. Here’s the front page of
the Supreme Court document saying state of Florida
versus the state of Georgia. So you know it’s running and it’s going. So what’s the lawsuit from
Florida where it comes in, so Lake Seminole here said the
dam at Lake Seminole’s here, Apalachicola River flows
down into Apalachicola Bay. So has anybody here ever eaten
any Apalachicola oysters? Yeah, okay, so that’s
the problem right there. Basically the oystermen and
some of the other aquatic life down here is being said that
there’s not enough water flowing into that bay to
keep producing the levels of oysters they have. So when you start seeing some of that, all of a sudden fingers
start getting pointed, so if you notice prices of
those oysters may have went up or been harder to get and everything else, this is why right here. There’s some other issues that happened but that basically what the
lawsuit’s stemming from. Upstream user, Georgia,
is using too much water such the downstream user,
Florida, is receiving too little, so it negatively affects aquatic life, deprives the bay of
fresh water flows needed to maintain it’s ecological balance and keep the oysters happy and thriving. There’s more then just oysters
that are going into this, that’s just kind of the
big name thing we see, there’s endangered species
of certain mussels, turtles and a lot of other
things in this water system, it’s just you see high priority areas that kind of show up during the time. So what does Georgia do, Georgia decides to try to be proactive and pass a few bills to
try and protect themselves. And this past year they
passed senate bill 213, and so they passed this
extension or revamp of the Flint River Drought Protection Act. It’s just clarifying
some legislative intent, revising definitions, and
expanding some of the programs. So these are some of the
sponsors, the committees, and all that, you know it’s not that
important as what it does. So update of the Flint River
Drought Protection Act, which was passed back in the early 2000’s, so this was implemented before, during some of the other low drought times when we were drawing a lot of water out. So what are we doing to
update it to get it to where it’s at now. We’re establishing acceptable
basin stream flows, okay so we’re actually going in and saying within all
the rivers in the basin, you know the major tributaries
and everything else, we’re establishing those flows and we’re putting definition on them and saying this is what they are. Conduct and participate in studies, so that’s kind of vague
and what does that mean. I guess that means that people like me and some other researchers, some people in the room
here that do some research, NRCS and other people
to try and look and see what’s going on, what we can
do to do better than that, whatever else. Clarifies auction procedures in droughts. So what does that mean. Have y’all heard of the
irrigation land auctions, anybody in here during what
happened during some of that, couple of people. So basically you can go
up and auction off acres, so you could go in and bid and say alright this year I’m gonna bid out, I’ll let you pay me 50 dollars
an acre of my irrigated land and I will not irrigate it this year. What’s it worth to you
to not irrigate land, you know for a year,
to get paid to do that. So that’s what it did. They take it out of irrigation
for the drought period, so you don’t touch it, you can plant it dry
land but you better not turn that system on or
there’s serious consequences. So they tried that, it
didn’t really work that well. I’m not gonna divulge
into the issues with it, lets just say it was
more on the honor system on what lands you bidded
off and how you handled it. So you can imagine how that happened. Yeah, so they’re trying to
clarify that a little better to prevent some of those
issues from happening. So I’m gonna go into
this a little bit more, self certification of
application efficiency for irrigation systems. And it also clarifies
stream augmentation flows and I’m gonna go into
that too a little bit more and downstream user can’t
withdraw water in drought periods, that’s what that means. And so based on where
you’re at in that watershed, it tells you how much you can withdraw, whether any at all, to keep that stream at that level. So they’re running some
pretty intense models to look at this and determine what flows, what can withdrawn from
where based on tributaries, et cetera, et cetera. So one thing they implemented
is an aquifer storage and recovery project. So there’s a test system
being installed at the Elmodel Wildlife Management
Area in Baker County, right near the Chickasawhatchee Creek, costing about five point
one million dollars. So y’all are like what is
aquifer storage and recovery. I wouldn’t have known what
it was a few years ago so now I kind of know
and whether or not it’s a valid solution or not, I’m leaving that up to the Georgia EPD, but it’s a well installed in
a shallow Floridan aquifer, provide a recharge flow during high flow to a aquifer storage
recovery, or ASR well, installed across the deeper
Claiborne or Clayton aquifers. Water will remain in
storage in the Claiborne and Clayton aquifers until
it’s withdrawn or recover, deeper aquifers during
the low flow to augment stream flow in the nearby system. That’s a lot of words,
doesn’t really tell you what’s going on right. Here’s a good picture that
shows what’s going on. We got the Floridan aquifer
across most of Georgia, and I didn’t put a map
on here to show how much it stretches but it basically
goes from a few counties in Alabama all the way
over to eastern Georgia. Across kind of the coastal plains, what you consider that region. And based on where you’re
at you might have a 15 foot water table all the way
down to a couple hundred foot water table, but
it’s very easy to access. So just imagine this layer
right here, on average, is around 50 to 100 foot thick. These layers to get down to here, we’re looking at 7, 800
feet in certain regions, and not very high yielding
wells in certain regions. So the issue is if you can’t
withdraw from this one, you’re drilling down 700 feet and you’re really really pushing
the cost of that well up. So basically what they’re
trying to say we can do is we’re gonna pump
water during high flow, you know when we’re good, we’re gonna store it down
in these two aquifers. We’re gonna let it sit there. You know and the minute we
start seeing drought periods and the water flow is drawing down, we’re gonna pump out of these
and pump back into the streams so that our stream levels
stay at that base rate. You know it’s a lot of pumping water here, pumping water there, you know
doing this, that, and another. So basically what it is, like I said, whether it’s good or not,
that’s what’s implemented, or they’re trying to work on implementing some of that to help. So also, application efficiency, what are we doing from the farm side, so these are from the stream
augmentation side and all that, what are we doing from the farm side to try to help with that. Passed a bill, I helped write
part of this section here and it says center pivot, so basically what we’re
doing is telling producers that by 2020, it’s a self-check, but by 2020 you’ve gotta meet this region. If you fall within this
district you have to meet this. So center pivots must be
at least 80% efficient, solid sets, traveling guns 65% efficient, and this is from the pump to the ground, it’s a self certification,
keep that in mind. We wrote a checklist, they have
to go through the checklist, they self certify this. Somebody doesn’t come off and check on it. So that’s alright right now, it’s alright until EPD
decides they’re in big trouble or whatever, somebody gets mad, and they’re coming out
to your farm to check. That’s when you’re in trouble. So on the honor system you
might want to keep in mind, if you’re having to do this self check, try to show that you’ve implemented it and did a decent job of it. So gonna move away from
Georgia, there’s our issues, that’s what we’re dealing
with in Georgia right now, all the legislative fun stuff right. Yeah the stuff like I said, I don’t like to deal with
and don’t like to do. So typically Alabama, if we
look at our irrigated acres, we’ve lagged behind a little bit. You know I think one thing’s
it’s hard to reach water source typically no history of
infrastructure for irrigation. So if we’re not looking at
having it there from 1970, you know where people have
been doing it for a long time, maybe it’s just not something
that we’re gonna do, you know we’ve not been
drilling those wells or doing anything. Got some recent legislation
that’s helping increase acres and the following information, we’ll go through a few
slides that I got from Cameron Handyside from UAH and the Earth System Science Center, so if you’ve seen any of
his stuff it basically went through and did some surveys
that show the irrigation intensification in Alabama based on some of the recent legislation
to see how we’re pushing it. So see how it’s actually helping it going. So it’s part of Alabama’s efforts
to both promote irrigation and protect water resources. Detailed information about
agricultural water users and their locations is a must. So USDA irrigation reports
sometimes they’re reliable sometimes they’re just not. So they tried a couple different methods, I’m gonna breeze through them
really quick for time’s sake. We looked at NDVI to see if
we could actually identify some areas, this is
Limestone County, Alabama. See if you can see and
it’s hard for y’all to see, but basically the green is crops, red is potentially irrigated crops. So somehow they’re breaking
NDVI into two levels and saying if it’s so high
we think that’s irrigated, if it’s not so high it’s not. That didn’t work out too well. They used feature recognition, so basically they looked
at satellite images and said anywhere we
see something that looks like a circle, this is a
center pivot irrigation system. So based on a 2000 Ag Census survey, say 37,000 acres based on
what they found, 10,000 acres. So again, they’re way off on this. So we gotta find a better method. We do have very high
resolution ortho-aerial photos that come out every two years from USDA. Local Arc-GIS models are
connected to the NAIP GIS server. So what do they do, they paid a couple of
poor guys to sit there on a computer screen and draw circles. And so these guys went across
the entire state of Alabama and drew circles anywhere
they though there might be an irrigation system. So they made them do it separately, they couldn’t look at each
others results because sometimes it works out really well and sometimes there might be a
system, might not be a system so here’s some potential stuff here, what looks like irrigation systems and what may or may not be. So to cut to the chase
basically red was researcher one yellow was researcher two. So they went through said
everything that they both agreed on that was definitely a pivot. And there’s issues here like
you see a causeway on this pond and it’s in a circular shape, so somebody said well
there must be a half pivot or something going on there. Come to find out there’s nothing there. Either that causeway, there’s
something else going on here, or that just some funny
image or something else going on there. The same way over here. In some cases, evidence
for center pivot’s strong, but it’s still not conclusive. So it looks like there
may be center pivots here when there really weren’t,
but there was one here. You know et cetera, et cetera. ‘Cause here, if I looked at this map, I see something going
on in the center of both of these fields, I don’t
see the tower anywhere, but there’s something going on there, I don’t really see tracks, but they assume maybe there is
one there, but there was not. So they went through, they combined them, they ground truthed some
stuff, got the final results. So this is what the map looked like, again like I talked about, southeast Alabama where you
might have access to more easier water sources you see
a higher population of it. Irrigated acres, 2006 versus 2013. I don’t have a whole
lot of time so I’m not gonna spend too much time on ’em, but you can kind of
see in certain counties where we’ve went from pretty low acreages throughout the state and increased a lot. So I’ll give y’all a minute
just to kind of absorbed that. You go from white,
that’s around 1000 acres, green is around 10,000, here green I think is
from 10,000 to 15,000, so it’s still your high mark. What are they doing and
what are they looking at, and I stayed out of it, they looked at it by watershed, I look at it kind of by county. Used a supplemental irrigation
map and said how much, this was during a drought period, so this might look kind of high, I think this was during the 2012 drought, but how much additional
irrigation was required to produce a crop during that time. If you can see the scale
bar down here at the bottom, it’s from zero all the way up
to red’s 14 additional inches, to validly produce an irrigated crop. They applied this to this map and seen an average demand
over 50 years there. So this is what it looks like. If you look anywhere
from, this is acre feet, so we just have some areas in the state that are requiring some extremely high, again based on this map, withdrawals of water for irrigation. So what that basically means
and what they’re looking into on a simplistic level are these watersheds gonna be able to sustain
this in the long run. And what are we gonna
have to do to make these watersheds sustain this and how much water can
each one of them take, whether we build reservoirs
or what do we do. So what are some options for improvements, and I’ll try to go
through it pretty quick, if any of y’all have
heard most of my talks this is mainly what I
cover in them is mainly more some of the stuff SWATs talked about and everything else. So irrigation intensification
if improperly managed can lead to major issues
in the near future. We all kind of know that, you’re gonna run out of water,
legislations gonna be passed, a lot of other things can be set in that we don’t want to happen. So we want to be good up front, we’re putting in
infrastructure that ideally is gonna be there for a long time. Let’s do a better job
planning and then we don’t have to worry about it in the future. So BMP should be implemented
to ensure irrigation resources are not mismanaged. So what to consider really quick, irrigation type efficiency of system, soil water holding
capacity, crop growth stage, utilization of sensors for more precise estimations of soil moisture, and then split apply
weekly rates if possible. So don’t dump it all out
at one time basically. Really quick, we’ve seen
this is kind of known and pretty easy to find
but what is our efficiency. All this means is on a basic level, if I apply an inch of water
with one of these systems, I need to apply that inch
by one of these percentages to see the amount that I’m
actually getting to my crop. And you can see as we get
down to lower pressure closer to the crop we
get a higher efficiency, and of course drip’s got a
very high efficiency there. And that’s just the point of this slide. As SWAT talked about we
looked at crop growth stage, sensitivity to water stress,
it changes as we go out, this is cotton, this is peanut, corn looks the same way, it
goes a little bit higher, but we go through the maturity stage, kind of level off when we get to maturity and then start dropping
off after full maturity down to irrigation termination. So we’re not gonna talk about that, I’ve got just a couple of minutes. One thing I do want to talk
about, irrigation scheduling, basically it’s a technique
to determine how much water and when to apply it. So the USDA irrigation survey
that was done a few years ago, how do people schedule it,
80% on visual observation. I mean 80% are looking at my crop and saying alright my crops
wilting I need to irrigate it, that’s your done too far
behind at that point. Six to 35%, feel the
soil, this is the best one, I mean if anybody’s ever heard my talk, I love talking about this one, irrigate when my neighbors irrigate. That is the worse way to irrigate. I don’t even care if you
turning it on twice a week, you’re doing better than
this ’cause no matter what, I’ve had a lot of people tell me, there can be two different crops, he’s growing a different
crop than his neighbor and any time he turns his system on, his neighbors are going to turn it on, or if he’s not irrigating his
neighbor’s not irrigating. There’s an obvious major problem there. So kind of go by your own
methods, look at your own crop, know what’s going on. Let’s not cheat on our
test, how about that, don’t look at the neighbor’s
paper in this case, ’cause he may not be doing it right. Personal calendar schedule, that was me, I was a jerk in school, if I knew somebody was
cheating on me I’d purposely put the wrong answers down and let them turn their
test in and go change it. So you know I want people
to do their own thing, if they want help, ask
for it, don’t cheat on it. Use a few other methods
to keep up with it, so 8% or less so this is a low number, it would be nice if we could get this up. And I know we’re getting
some sensors out there, we got a lot in south Georgia,
we’re getting some in Alabama we just gotta learn how to manage these, I think that’s the thing, we gotta learn how to use
the data and manage it. Hopefully we’re getting
there but these are scheduling service,
computer models, or sensors. So that’s just methods,
that’s straight up. So why precision irrigation? We don’t really realize the benefit as SWAT was talking about, you know there’s a lot
of issues with variable rate irrigation, or variable
rate, fertilization, lime, seed, et cetera if
we don’t manage water. So we’re trying to get where we can manage water really well so we
start doing some of these other technologies we’re
actually realizing the benefits of them and getting the most out of them. You know water’s expensive, we’re having regulatory
actions and all that, that are being implemented. I’m gonna try and finish up
with these couple of slides I think about just on time
for a question or two. I got two results slide
here, this is from 2013, I’m just throwing this up here, I’m not promoting this
technology or anything, I mean it’s free and available, it’s an app that was developed
at University of Georgia in collaboration with University
of Florida that we use. But all it does is just
follows that water use curve that I had a few minutes
ago that I showed. It just follows that for
cotton so that we know approximate amounts of
water, when to apply ’em, and how much. So a checkbook method that’s
just being very conservative, we’re applying a lot of water, we don’t ever want to stress that crop. We apply in this year, now
this was a bad year for it, so that’s why I got 2014 up there. We had almost 30 inches of rain this year. I wouldn’t recommend any
irrigation when you got 30 inches of rainfall, you know just none, you don’t need any. Either way, checkbook even
with that we still applied almost 13 inches of irrigation there. Cotton App required 3 inches, this is a crop water stress index, irrigator pro and then rainfed. All of these are pretty
low compared to checkbook, let’s go over here and look at our yield. We actually hurt ourselves in
this year by over irrigating. You know using that checkbook method and just trying to be conservative, make sure we weren’t stressed, we actually lowered yield by about 100 to 130 pounds per acre by using that. So let’s get out of out a wet year, let’s look at a little bit drier year, a year like this past year
where it rained a lot up front and then stopped. 11 inches of rain, so that’s
more a typical year right? We’re around 11, 12, 15
inches of rain if we’re lucky throughout the production season. So had a couple different trials out, here’s the Tifton Campus,
we had a couple field there, checkbook we applied 16 inches of water, basically 17 inches, that put us right at 1,600
pounds per acre of lint yield. Cotton App, 10 inches,
so we’re at total at 21, this one a total of 28
basically, inches of water on it. Cotton App, yeah we reduced
that by 20 pounds per acre but we cut our water
use in basically half. So if we go in and throw in
the pumping costs and all that, which I’m not gonna get to today, doing pretty good following
this app and the amount. So out of Irrigation Research Park, checkbook, Cotton App, and
then primed acclimation of the app. We had conservation and conventional, so checkbook’s 15 inches, so
pretty much on par with this, Cotton App nine inches in both, and then the primed
acclimation nine inches. So for some reason this one
was much lower this year, with the primed acclimation
where we basically held the water off for a little while, did really really well. It responded you know 100, 120, 130 pounds higher than this one, with basically we total these up, almost half the amount of
water the same way here, not quite 100 there. So point of the slides
I showed you is that we can do a much better job at irrigating and managing our irrigation
if we follow some regime as opposed to just blindly
turning the water on. So really quick if you want to look at, just to kind of drive the point home, lot of fields in the
southern part of the state, especially Georgia, I know
it’s prevalent in Alabama too, here’s a 228 acre field, and one center pivot covers this field, you can see the pivot line right here, you can see the bridges
where it’s walking across the swamps and where it’s
walking across the ditches and everything else. Non cropped, this is looking
at all these ditches, swamps, everything else, 84 acres or 37% of that field. 84 acres times 12 inches of irrigation, so that’s going back and
looking at approximately what we applied you know
somewhere around average of these is at a number we’ve come up with at about 12 dollars per acre inch you apply, it’s 12,000 dollars
that you just dumped on this area and all these areas, in that year on this one field. So that’s my push for variable
rate irrigation right there even if you don’t want to
put the sensors out there. My push is for let’s use it for on off in situations like this
at least to start with and then we can progress from there if you’re not comfortable yet. That’s also about 30 million
gallons per year of water. So the point with this
one is the issues we’re seeing in Georgia, hey if we can push
variable rate down there, that’s 6,000 pivots in just that region, that the lawsuit’s
specifically focusing on. We can say hey look, by
having pivots down here we can save this much water,
that’s just per 84 acres. So with that, I’m out of time, and if y’all have any questions. Oh come on, you can’t still be asleep. Lunch should be wearing off by now. – [Audience Member] Where’s
the best place to go to find the sensors and
applications and all that, that can help us? – [Dr. Porter] So local dealers, it
just depends on what part of the state you’re in, who your service, I know we’ve got a few dealers in here, you can talk to a few of ’em. I mean anybody that carries ’em, I don’t want to point anybody
out when we’re in here. But irrigation companies first off, secondly a lot of some of
your equipment companies and services and stuff like
that will also offer them. I mean if you just got general questions about what you want to do,
feel free to give me a call, give one of your Regional
Extension Agents a call and work through them and we can make recommendations
maybe on sensor types. I don’t do very well with cost ’cause cost changes a lot and everything else, and then I’ll get in trouble
with some of the companies ’cause they said well
Wes said that this sensor costs this much. But you know just some local dealers, start asking around and
you know like I said, contact me or one of your agents and we can get you in
contact with a dealer that has some of the stuff
and can get you started. Anymore questions? – [Audience Member] Do Alabama farmers and Georgia farmers are they using the same checkbook method, I mean as far to plan water environment? – [Dr. Porter] Close, the one in Georgia
was developed in Georgia, there’s some of those
methods developed in Alabama, but if we look at them
and all aspects are going to be very, very close. Our climates are pretty close, you know we’ll see a
little bit of a difference when we move up to the
northern part of Alabama. But we could still, if you
just needed a blind guide to go by that checkbook
method gives you something better than blindly going out there and just estimating what you think without looking at any guide at all. So our regions aren’t that different, it’s not like going from
Nebraska to Georgia, or Nebraska to Alabama. Any more questions? Alright. – [Audience Member] The Cotton App is that
similar to Irrigator Pro, but phone based versus PC? – [Dr. Porter] It is, so the one thing
that the Cotton App’s lacking that Irrigator Pro you can do with, you know Irrigator Pro
you can put in information from soil moisture sensors
to kind of verify that or make it a little more accurate. It’s kind of the step one
of Irrigator Pro is where our Cotton App is at right now. It taps local weather data, looks at that graph
that I showed on cotton, and so it looks at how
much rainfall you got, basically how much soil
radiation, wind speed, et cetera, et cetera, estimates ET for crop growth stage, and one issue in Alabama
is it’s not integrated to the weather network here, or the way the system’s set
up, we can’t get it integrated. You can still use it, you can go in and change
rainfall, you can change ET, you can change some of
that stuff on your own, and adjust those to where
you think they should be and it’ll still tell you how
much you need to irrigate. And it’s free, just search
smart irrigation apps if you wanted to play with it, we had I think right
at 200 users this year when we beta tested it in Georgia. So a lot of people are starting to use it. – [Moderator] Alright, let’s give our speaker a hand. (applause)

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