New Waves July 2011

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Texas Tech researchers provide free online drought tools

Texas Tech researchers provide free online drought tools Texas Tech University agricultural researchers have released two new computer tools that save irrigation water and boost bottom lines for parched producers.

The web-based programs are being offered free of charge to agricultural producers, through the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, and aim to improve irrigation scheduling and resource allocation. Both programs were developed to specifically target the needs of irrigated farmers in the West Texas and Panhandle regions.

“They’re designed to help producers make the most out of an irrigation regime, while remaining conscious of water resources,” said Justin Weinheimer, a research associate in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

The irrigation scheduling tool allows farmers to keep track of soil moisture on a field-by-field basis for irrigated cotton, corn, sorghum and wheat, using real time weather data from more than four dozen Texas Tech Mesonet weather stations spread across the plains. This network of automated stations collects a wide variety of temperature and moisture levels every 15 minutes.

“The tool allows a producer to customize irrigation scheduling based on field-level irrigation efficiency, soil moisture readings, and other agronomic and irrigation characteristics,” Weinheimer said. A checkbook-style water balance then enables the farmer to determine when and how much water to apply.

The second web-based tool from the Texas Tech team is a resource-allocation analyzer. Put simply, the economic-decision aid is designed for use in the planning season to determine which crops will maximize the profit potential of a given field.

The resource-allocation tool projects crops, yield goals, irrigation requirements and acreage designations on a field-by-field basis, Weinheimer said. That ability allows producers to maximize the revenue potential given the irrigation capabilities of the field.

For more information read the full Texas Tech Today article.

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