February 14, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman

For many farm fields, irrigation can mean the difference between a good, profitable crop and one that leaves a farmer wishing for more.

To help farmers gain better understanding of when to use irrigation, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service agents in Daviess and Henderson counties embarked on a research project in 2000 that will continue this year. As part of those ongoing efforts, an irrigation school will be Feb. 23 at the Henderson County extension office.

The program is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will review data from 2000. The project is funded by grants from the Kentucky Integrated Pest Management program and the Kentucky Soybean Association. The Woodruff Curve, another program that uses rainfall and growth stage to determine moisture needs based on a graphing system, was also used in the project.

In 2000, the scheduler was used in corn and soybeans in the Green River area, but not sweet corn.

Already, the project has shown farmers aren't starting to irrigate early enough, are not putting enough water onto the fields, and inefficiency in some center pivots is making output inconsistent, said Wayne Mattingly, Daviess County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

Also, soybeans are not perceived to get as great a benefit from irrigation as corn, but data from the Green River area in 2000 shows that soybeans can also benefit, he said.

This year the program will be expanded to look at the irrigation needs of sweet corn. With the West Kentucky Growers Cooperative producing several thousand acres of sweet corn in the area, project coordinators felt it was important to look at irrigation in this crop.

"Sweet corn has more dependence on irrigation," Mattingly said. "It's where they can get the biggest bang for the buck."

The irrigation school is free and will include discussions evaluating soil moisture conditions, disease impact on irrigated corn and soybeans and improving the output of center pivots.

For more information on the irrigation school, contact Wayne Mattingly at (270) 685-8480 or Mike Smith at (270) 826-8387.


Wayne Mattingly, (270) 685-8480