The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District is now enrolling producers for participation in its 2018 Irrigation Assessment Program.
Since the program's reinstatement in 2013, cooperating producers have volunteered to have their center pivot or subsurface drip irrigation system evaluated by HPWD staff. Water levels in wells are measured at the beginning and end of the growing season. In addition, flow rates of the wells/irrigation systems are checked with an ultrasonic flow meter. This service is provided by HPWD at no cost to willing participants.
The pumping hours, total gallons of water per minute, and the number of irrigated acres are calculated to determine the total acre-inches of groundwater applied during the growing season. Rainfall totals are determined through the use of radar estimates from April to September. This gives an estimate of the total inches of water available for plant use.
Water samples are also collected as an extra service to those participating in the program. HPWD is able to check Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), chloride, and pH levels of groundwater. It is important to understand water chemistry since it impacts the efficient use of supplemental nutrients applied to crops.
All this information is used to better understand the groundwater conditions in aquifers within the HPWD service area.
For example, the 2017 program participants' well data reveals an average depth-to-water of 216 feet and an average flow rate of 110 gallons per minute. The average amount of irrigation water applied in 2017 by program participants was 6.6 inches for cotton, 9.9 inches for wheat, 10.5 inches for peanuts, 11.8 inches for silage, and 12.2 inches for corn.
All information gathered from each site is shared with program participants. Several producers have said the data has helped them better understand their irrigation system's performance.
High Plains Water District encourages all interested producers to participate in the 2018 Irrigation Assessment Program. There are two major benefits. First, it helps farmers understand how much water is used per year for crop production. Second, it provides beneficial data for future water planning efforts where accurate irrigation pumping information must be considered.