The availability of water is one of the most important issues concerning farmers and agronomists in the coming century. Despite heavy rainfalls in recent years, growers and researchers alike know that underground aquifers are relatively low, and farmers are best served by making the most efficient use of available resources, according to a news release.
The annual Arkansas Irrigation Yield Contest gives growers in the state the opportunity to put their own operations to the test and identify opportunities for improvement in the process. The 2020 contest is now open for entries.
The contest encourages best management practices in row crop irrigation, such as computerized hole selection in irrigation piping, sensor-based irrigation scheduling and surge valve use, alternate wetting/drying rice irrigation and other best management practices that lead to more efficient use of water.
The contest measures yield and water-use for rice, soybeans and corn. Chris Henry, associate professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said participation in the contest itself yields information for the growers.
“Each year, every participant receives a report card, explaining how each of the steps they took worked out to a greater or lesser degree,” Henry said. “What we saw is that most of 2018’s participants improved greatly in the 2019 contest — growers that didn’t even place in 2018 were winning first and second place in 2019. So, you don’t necessarily have to ‘win’ to benefit from this contest. In that sense, everyone’s a winner here.”
The contest is open to any grower in Arkansas. To register, contact Greg Simpson at 870-243-2604 or 870-673-2661. Participants may also register via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s contest prizes in the corn and soybeans category are:
• First place: $6,000 cash prize;
• Second place: $3,000 cash prize;
• Third place: $1,000 cash prize.
In the rice category, there is a single first-place prize consisting of a hybrid seed “superbag,” valued at $12,000, sponsored by Ricetec.
Additional contest sponsors include McCrometer, Seametrics, Irrometer, Delta Plastics, Trellis and Agsense.
1. Must register by June 30, 2020.
2. A propeller flow meter must be installed at the riser bonnet in each field.
3. The flow meter must be read and sealed by a Division of Agriculture contest official before irrigation begins.
4. Entrants must choose a county agent, Natural Resources Conservation Service agent or another person to supervise harvest.
5. A measured sample area of a minimum of three acres must be harvested to qualify.
6. Verifiable yield from scale tickets must be provided at harvest.
7. Minimum yield to win is 200 bushels per acre for corn, 180 bushels per acre for rice and 60 bushels per acre for soybeans.
8. The winning flow meter will be tested against a Division of Agriculture reference.
9. Yield must be above the county average. Non-irrigated crop fields may not be considered.
10. You may use any irrigation scheduling method you wish. Deficit irrigation will not be accepted.
11. Delta Plastics can provide a vendor list for appropriate flow meters.
12. Highest water use efficiency will determine the winner.
For more information on irrigation and crop production, contact a county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu/irrigation.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent, visit www.uaex.edu or on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.