During periods of drought, or even in short mid-season dry times, you can easily tell which fields are irrigated and which are not simply by the color and size of the crop. Plant growth in dryland farming may be stunted, and continual wilting of the plant can potentially decrease yield up to 8 percent every day, depending on the growth stage. In extreme cases, an entire crop will be completely unusable and unsellable. Fortunately, most of these problems can be eliminated by providing crops with adequate irrigation all the way through plant maturity. One of the most efficient irrigation methods is mechanized irrigation, or center pivot irrigation.
Center pivot irrigation continues to prove its worth in farming. A 1997 study in Missouri found that irrigated corn had a 40 percent greater yield than its dryland competitor. Mechanized irrigation ensures uniform and consistent crop results by managing the amount of water, chemicals, and fertilizer being applied by the pivot. Center pivot control panels also allow you to adapt your irrigation practices to seasonal weather patterns and provide your crops with exactly what they need when they need it.
Precision agriculture is made possible with center pivots. Machines are now capable of turning individual sprinklers or entire field zones off to use water more efficiently, and specific sprinkler packages can increase efficiency even more. Sprinkler design allows for modification of the water droplet size and dispersion, which has a great effect on crop absorption in certain soils. For instance, sandy soils will require larger droplets than clay and silt. Aligning crop and soil water requirements with your machine and sprinkler design provide you with strong yields year after year.
Other irrigation techniques, such as flood or solid set, offer improvements over dryland farming. These techniques, although less expensive, don’t provide the durability and reliability of center pivots. Flood irrigation relies on massive amounts of water being flushed into rows. Excessive evaporation and runoff is common. Solid set irrigation is a low cost solution, however, it requires extensive labor to move pipes around fields. Center pivot irrigation may have a higher upfront cost, but you can count on a reliable solution for over 30 years.
Learn more about the advantages of irrigating at irrigation.education. Take the Irrigation Types: Benefits and Drawbacks course to learn more!