New Waves July 2010

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Irrigation systems at the heart of water-use efficiency on dairies

Irrigation systems at DairiesThe ability to irrigate is a key factor in dairy feasibility, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist, Nich Kenny.

Speaking during Southwest Dairy Days held recently on the Spandet Dairy north of Hart, Kenny, an AgriLife Extension irrigation specialist in Amarillo, said the irrigation system and the water it brings to the region's cropping systems are what allow the industry’s feasibility, especially on the magnitude of what dairy and feedlot operations require.

The dairy that was toured included a center-pivot sprinkler system with multiple wells attached, which he said is typical of irrigation in the region.

"This is how we pump most of the water in the West Texas area, especially in the High Plains area, through internal combustion engines with a 90-degree gearhead, or electrical motors, and a pump that goes down into the Ogallala Aquifer and extracts that water out to deliver it to the crops," Kenny said.

Crops involved in a dairy forage system include different types of sorghums, from grain to forage sorghums; corns, from grain corn to forage or green-chop silage corn; and wheat, triticale and, in some cases, alfalfa.

"In some other dairy sectors, alfalfa would be a more predominant crop where more water is available," Kenny said.

"But here where we are pumping out of the Ogallala Aquifer, water is a limited resource and therefore we try to use crops that are going to get us more forage for less water applied," he said. "So a lot of the alfalfa that comes into these dairies is sourced from outside of this area or even outside of the state."

Continue reading the AgriLife News article here.

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