The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture has demonstrated water management practices on cooperator farms for five years. The Arkansas irrigation yield contest tests the knowledge and ability of growers to produce the “Most Crop Per Drop.”
Together, these efforts have shown that when applied effectively, water use can be reduced by 24% on average with no yield penalty.
Chad Render, who farms south of Pine Bluff, got the most crop per crop in corn in 2020, achieving 11.5 bushels per inch and 225 bushels per acre. He used Delta Plastics’ Pipe Planner, Watermark sensors and cover crops, which all aid in conservation efforts. He also benefited from early rains in April and May.
“It makes us want to try new things,” Render says of the contest. “I’ve used cover crops for about the past three years on certain soils that just seem to get hot during the growing season, so I’m actually broadening my cover crop areas. I am an advocate for cover crops and what it does to conserve moisture and hold down the weed pressure. From my personal experiences, I’m seeing benefit from less water and more yield.”
The contest promotes the adoption of irrigation water management practices to reduce energy, water use and labor, and to improve profitability. However, nothing says you can’t try new things without the framework of a contest. Your challenge is always to reduce energy and water use, and your reward, too, is increased yield and better profitability.