New Waves October 2010

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Growing 200 bushels of corn with only 12 inches of irrigation

Growing 200 bushels of corn with only 12 inches of irrigation Texas AgriLife Research is joining forces with the Texas Corn Producers Board and North Plains Groundwater Conservation District to help producers try to maximize their water-use efficiency and still produce economically adequate yields, said Thomas Marek, AgriLife Research senior research engineer.

The effort is two-fold, with AgriLife Research conducting a research-based study, the 200-12 Corn Project, and the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District’s (GWCD) conducting a companion demonstration project, 200-12 Reduced Irrigation on Corn. The research project is being carried out at the North Plains Research Field near Etter, while the demonstration projects are being conducted on three volunteer GWCD board members’ land.

"This is a key area for corn production," said David Gibson, Texas Corn Producers Board executive director at the recent North Plains Corn Irrigation Research and Extension Field Day. "Our growers are learning a lot about what they need to do with their water," Gibson said.

Part of the motivation for the projects was new rules from the North Plains GWCD. These rules lowered pumping limits from 2 acre feet per year to 1.5 acre feet per year by 2012, said Dan Krienke, a district board member and cooperator in the demonstrations. “The goal of the 200-12 demonstrations is to save this water while maintaining a profitable yield for producers,” Krienke said.

According to the North Plains GWCD, yield information for the 200-12 demonstrations will be made available after the data is collected and analyzed. The district is actively seeking more cooperators to participate in the project in 2011.

“If successful, the demonstrations will accomplish at least a 6-inch reduction in the amount of irrigation water being applied to grow corn across the District,” said irrigation engineer and project coordinator for the district Leon New, a retired irrigation engineer with Texas AgriLife Research and 40-year veteran of irrigation technology advancements.

The AgriLife Research study has been approved for funding for the next two years by the Ogallala Aquifer Program, as announced by Dr. David Brauer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service at Bushland.

For more information see the Ag News story, contact Marek at tmarek@ag.tamu.edu, or contact Kirk Welch, public information and conservation education manager for the North Plains GWCD, at welchk@npwd.org.

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