The Irrigation Scheduling Program is offered in five counties: Otter Tail, Becker, Wadena, Hubbard, and Todd.
The program offers important information to producers to help them manage their irrigation pivots and soil moisture status. We make weekly checks and offer the following information:
We offer the program for corn, soybeans, edible beans, alfalfa, small grains, and potatoes. The cost to participate in the program is $200 per field. If you enroll two or more fields, the cost drops to $175 per field.
The information we provide to you will be in a chart (right).
The left axis shows the soil moisture depletion, which corresponds to the black line. The right axis shows precipitation/irrigation amounts, which correspond to the bars on the bottom. Dates are listed on the bottom. The solid bars indicate rain and the striped bars denote irrigation. The red line indicates the maximum allowable depletion (MAD), or the point below which plants start to experience stress.
Our goal is to prevent the soil depletion level (black line) from dropping below the MAD (red line). In the chart above we can see that our producer applied 1.0 inch of irrigation on August 10th. This brought the soil depletion level back to 15% (85% available). Crop water use shows the soil moisture levels dropping until a 0.45 inch rainfall on August 14th, which brought the depletion level back up to 20% (80% available). The final bar shows a 0.6 inch irrigation application that lowers the depletion level back to 15% (85% available). The soil moisture use for the dates after August 16th are predictive, based on the crop growth stage and the weather.
The decision to irrigate would be based on the weather forecast, the time it takes for the pivot to make a full round, and any electricity use restrictions. Our irrigation staff can help you consider these factors as you decide when you should start irrigating.
The Irrigation Scheduling Program uses data from our local Ag Weather Network.
The Ag Weather Network is a group of 13 weather stations across central Minnesota that collect important agricultural weather data:
We use this data for irrigation decisions and so do many of our growers.
The Irrigation Management Assistant (IMA) is a new tool to select counties in Central Minnesota.
The tool automates our Irrigation Scheduling program. It uses evapotranspiration (crop water use) data from our Ag Weather Network and soils data to track soil moisture status through the growing season.