Website Contact

Chris Henry
Assistant Professor, Extension
Biological and Ag Engineering

Phone: 870-673-2661
Email: cghenry@uark.edu
Office:
Rice Research & Extension Center (RREC)
2900 Highway 130 East
Stuttgart, AR  72160
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Irrigation for Agriculture in Arkansas

Laser Leveling Rice Fields for Irrigation | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas

 

 

Computerized Hole-Selection

Computerized Hole Selection (CHS) is a computer software application which designs and evaluates furrow irrigation systems. CHS uses pipe friction loss, pipe elevations and flow rate, and pressure to calculate punched hole sizes in layflat tubing (flexible poly-pipe) for uniform application of water, even in systems with varying row lengths.  Down-row uniformity means rows are watered evenly, reducing tail water, improving irrigation efficiency and conserving water and energy.  Use of CHS has the potential to reduce water usage and irrigation cost by 25% or more in most cases.


  •  Pipe Planner | Delta PlasticsPipe Planner by Delta Plastics

    Delta Plastics' Pipe Planner is a subscription-only Web-based application designed to help create the most efficient irrigation system for row crops.  Pipe Planner features include:

    • Store all your information on the Delta Plastics secure server
    • Access your data at any time
    • Easily maintain and upgrade your plans as needed
    • Access real-time support services

     

    To learn more about Pipe Planner offerings and pricing, contact a Delta Plastics representative at 800-277-9172 or at http://www.pipeplanner.com/

    Disclaimer:  Links to external commercial websites are provided for convenience and information only.  Inclusion of websites does not imply approval of the commercial product or service by the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture to the exclusion of other products or services that may be similar.

    The mention of any commercial product or service in this website does not imply endorsement by the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture over other products or services not named, nor does the omission imply that other products or services are not satisfactory.

    The University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture does not guarantee the standard or accuracy of information on external websites, or its accessibility for people with disabilities.

 

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Irrigation Scheduling

The goal in irrigation scheduling is to determine the timing of irrigation, the duration of irrigation, and the amounts of water applied based upon crop needs, soil water storage capacity and climatic conditions, all leading to efficient water use. [courtesy of Agricultural Water Conservation Clearinghouse]



  • Arkansas Online Irrigation Scheduler | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas ExtensionArkansas Online Irrigation Scheduler

    The decision process of determining when to irrigate crops is referred to as irrigation scheduling.  There are several different irrigation scheduling methods available to producers who irrigate.  Most of these methods have been evaluated in Research and Extension studies by the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.  The water balance approach to irrigation scheduling has been determined to be the most practical and suitable method for Arkansas producers.  This approach is also used by producers in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Missouri.

    The Arkansas Irrigation Scheduling website can be used for corn, cotton, grain sorghum and soybean crops that are irrigated with furrow, center pivot, border or levee irrigation methods.

    Arkansas Online Irrigation Scheduler

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Irrigation Methods



  • Surface Irrigation Methods - Border [Photo courtesy of CCE] | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas Extension  Surface:  Border

    Border Irrigation Method | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas ExtensionThe concept of border irrigation is to flush a large volume of water over a relatively flat field surface in a short period of time. Borders are raised beds or levees constructed in the direction of the field's slope. The idea is to release water into the area between the borders at the high end of the field. The borders guide the water down the slope as a shallow sheet that spreads out uniformly between the borders. Most of the border irrigation in Arkansas has been used for soybean irrigation.

    Border irrigation is best suited for precision graded fields that have slope in only one direction. The crop should be flat planted in the direction of the field slope or possibly at a slight angle to the slope. Planting across the slope tends to restrict the water flow, especially on fields with less than 0.1 ft. fall per 100 feet. Fields with slope in two directions are not as well suited to border irrigation, but it may still be possible if the borders spacing is relatively narrow.

    Border irrigation will not work on all fields and is not necessarily a better method where the crop is already grown on good beds and furrow irrigated. However, if a grower wants to move toward flat planting and reduced tillage on these fields, then border irrigation may be more appealing than flood.

    Border Irrigation Resources

     

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  • Irrigation Methods - Flood (Levee) | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas Extension  Surface:  Levee
    Irrigation Methods - Flood (Levee) Weir | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas Extension
    Levee outflow weir in flooded rice field at Dabbs Discovery Farm in Stuttgart, Arkansas [Photo courtesy of Mike Daniels]

    Flood irrigation with levees should really be thought of as flush irrigation. The challenge is to get the water across the field as quickly as possible. It is also important that irrigation is started before the crop experiences drought. If plants are drought stressed and then subjected to an extended wet soil condition, plant development can be delayed and some plants may die.

    Levees are often broken in several places or completely knocked down to get the water into the next bay. Rebuilding the levee in time for the next irrigation is often difficult because the levee area tends to stay wet. Some growers install gates or spills in the levees to avoid irrigation delays due to rebuilding the levees between irrigations. When possible, it is recommended that gates or spills are also installed in the outside levee. This provides better drainage of a field in a situation where a rain occurs during or soon after the irrigation.

    It is recommended that water not be allowed to stand on any area for longer than two days. This can be difficult on big, flat fields. Some growers are able to divide these type fields into two smaller fields when they start irrigating so they can better manage the water. If this isn't practical, then providing multiple water inlets to the field can be helpful. Multiple inlets help avoid running water too long at the top of the field in order to get water to the bottom of the field. One multiple inlet method is to water the upper half of the field from the pump discharge or riser and then run irrigation pipe or tubing from the discharge down the field to water the lower half. A canal or flume ditch alongside the field can also be used for multiple inlets. The water can be directed from the ditch through cuts or spills into individual bays down the length of the field.

    Levee Irrigation Resources

     

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Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series

Irrigating Smart | Water Conservation | Environment & Nature | Arkansas ExtensionMost agricultural producers are using older diesel power units and old wells where upgrading to newer wells and diesel or electric motors need to be technically and economically evaluated.  As the price of gasoline and diesel fuel rises, the cost of irrigating crops in Arkansas dramatically increases.

  • Introduction
    Lessons Learned from Irrigation Pump Monitoring in the Midsouth (presentation by Chris Henry at the
    2012 Cotton Incorporated Crop Management Seminar Talks - See more at: http://www.arkansas-crops.com/2013/03/22/lessons-learned-from-irrigation-pump-monitoring/#sthash.EEBuCgMA.dpuf
    2012 Cotton Incorporated Crop Management Seminar Talks)

    Irrigators need a mechanism by which to evaluate the state of their pumping systems. With the current high diesel cost, this information is crucial in determining the profitability of switching to an electric motor or rebuilding existing diesel power plants. Additionally, producers need such analyses when applying for federal grant funds from the Resource Conservation & Development Councils (RC&D) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to assist them with electrical infrastructure or well replacements, respectively.

    How is pumping efficiency determined?

    A pumping system’s efficiency is calculated by comparing the amount of fuel used with the amount of water pumped. This efficiency will change due to the depth of water being pulled from a well, the condition of an engine and the rate at which the motor is turning. The calculated performance is then compared with the performance of the motor under perfect, laboratory standards. Typically, electric pumping systems will have a 75-85% overall efficiency, and diesel-powered pumps will have between 18-35% efficiency, depending on the age and care of the engine.

    To calculate a system’s pumping efficiency, several pieces of information are needed. If this information is not able to be collected, assumptions can be made to estimate the efficiency. However, great care needs to be taken to make appropriate assumptions to prevent a gross over- or underestimation of the system’s performance.

    Irrigating Smart conserves water, saves money and reduces energy.  The Irrigation Pumping Plant Efficiency Series was developed by the LSU AgCenter, Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture and New Mexico State University.

  • A. Understanding Water Horsepower

    3241-A Understanding Water Horsepower | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA brief explanation of the origin of the horsepower unit and how it relates to the power ratings of modern irrigation pumps – along with information about water horsepower, pump horsepower and pump efficiency.

    Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

    Understanding Water Horsepower 3241-A

  • B. Variable Frequency Drives (VFD)

    3241-B Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA variable frequency drive, known as a VFD, is an electronic drive system used to control electric motors. Its purpose is varying motor speed by controlling input frequency and voltage.

    Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
    Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

    Variable Frequency Drives 3241-B

  • C. Soft Starters for Electric Motors

    3241-C Soft Starters for Electric Motors | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA brief explanation of Electrical Motor Soft Starters.

    Blair Stringam, Department of Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

    Soft Starters for Electric Motors 3241-C

  • D. Determining the Cost of Electricity of a Natural Gas Generator

    3241-D Determining the Cost of Electricity of a Natural Gas Generator | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionInfrastructure costs associated with delivering necessary electrical power from the grid often make this conversion to properly sized, efficient pumping plants an economic compromise. An alternative method for electrical power delivery in these scenarios is the installation of an on-site natural gas generator that can power multiple smaller electrical pumping plants.

    Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

    Determining the Cost of Electricity of a Natural Gas Generator 3241-D

  • E. Measuring Natural Gas at an Irrigation Pumping Plant

    3241-E Measuring Natural Gas at an Irrigation Pumping Plant | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionAccurately measuring natural gas consumption at an irrigation pumping plant is a vital aspect of evaluating engine and pumping plant performance. Unfortunately, determining natural gas consumption usually is not as simple as reading a natural gas meter. This document will provide basic information about, as well as methods of, measuring natural gas from a common natural gas meter.

    Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

    Measuring Natural Gas at an Irrigation Pumping Plant 3241-E

  • F. Basics of On-site Pumping Plant Evaluations

    3241-F Basics of On-site Pumping Plant Evaluations | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA pumping plant evaluation is a testing method that allows for individual pumping plant components to be evaluated for efficiency to help in determining component sizing, replacement, compatibility and the associated economics.

    Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

    Basics of On-site Pumping Plant Evaluations 3241-F

  • G. Diesel and Natural Gas Dual Fuel

    3241-G Diesel and Natural Gas Dual Fuel | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionIn recent years, personal and private demand for diesel fuel has increased and diesel fuel prices have steadily risen to that of a premium fuel. This evolution has had a dramatic effect on irrigation pumping costs, to the point where many farms cannot economically continue to pump irrigation water using diesel fuel.

    Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

    Diesel and Natural Gas Dual Fuel 3241-G

  • H. Pump Curves

    3241-H Pump Curves | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionThe best pump performance occurs when the pump is correctly matched to the application. This requires knowledge of the application and the pump.

    David Bankston, Food Sciences, LSU AgCenter

    Pump Curves 3241-H

  • I. How to Read Electrical Meters

    3241-I How to Read Electrical Meters | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionElectric utility companies bill clients in kilowatt-hours, abbreviated kWh. The typical American electric meter is a device that looks like a clock. The clock-like device is driven by the electricity that moves through it.

    Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
    Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

    How to Read Electrical Meters 3241-I

  • J. Pump Efficiency

    3241-J Pump Efficiency | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionThis publication includes a definition of pump horsepower, an explanation of pump efficiency and information about how to calculate those values.

    Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

    Pump Efficiency 3241-J

  • K. Tips for Conserving Irrigation Water in the Southern Region

    3241-K Tips for Conserving Irrigation Water in the Southern Region | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionThese irrigation management tips are designed to promote applying the water needed by the crop uniformly and efficiently while minimizing surface runoff. Combine these tips with local crop agronomic practices for a systematic approach to water conservation.

    Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
    Joseph H. Massey, Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University
    Horace C. Pringle, Irrigation Research Engineer, Mississippi State University
    L. Jason Krutz, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Mississippi State University
    Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

    Tips for Conserving Irrigation Water in the Southern Region 3241-K

  • L. Measuring Irrigation Flow

    3241-L Measuring Irrigation Flow | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionMeasuring irrigation flow contributes to better management and scheduling of irrigation events, thus improving profitability.

    Ron E. Sheffield, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, LSU AgCenter
    Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
    David Bankston, Food Sciences, LSU AgCenter
    William A. Hadden, Extension Specialist (retired), LSU AgCenter

    Measuring Irrigation Flow 3241-L

  • M. Irrigation Pumping Plant Safety

    3241-M Irrigation Pumping Plant Safety | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionAgricultural irrigation systems move large quantities of water over short periods of time, consuming and creating a significant amount of energy in the process. So these systems require caution during operation and service.

    Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
    Ron E. Sheffield, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, LSU AgCenter
    Nicholas Kenny, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University

    Irrigation Pumping Plant Safety 3241-M

 

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Additional Extension Resources

 

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