From Gary Hawkins, Ph.D. Water Resource Management Specialist Crop and Soil Science Department, UGA.
‘Twas the night before harvest, when all through the fields not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The harvesters were greased by the farmer with care, in hopes that good harvest soon would be there.
But before you “spring from your bed to see what’s the matter or settle in for a long winters nap”, take some time to think about your irrigation system and get it ready for a long winter’s nap as well.
Now that the harvest is over, have “irrigation geysers” been dancing in your head? Where were they? Which ones needed to be repaired and which nozzles were worn? At this time of the year, I realize you are tired, want to go to the house for a nap and dream of next years planting, but prepare your irrigation system now so it will also be ready for the spring. Water is a commodity that is needed by the plants to produce the crop you dream of and getting the water to the fields is the purpose of the irrigation system.
So before you whistle and shout them by name: “Now Case! Now Valley! Now, John and Deere! On, Reinke! On, Rainbird! On, Cotton and Peanut! To the top of the Field! To the top of the shed! Now Winter -ize! Winter -ize! Winter -ize! all!”
-Get everything winterized prior to settling in so next year will be a good year on many different fronts. In the Regional Water Plans (can be found at http://www.georgiawaterplanning.org) there are many activities suggested by the Water Councils to help conserve water in the specific water regions and in the State of Georgia.
In the Southern portion of Georgia some of these are:
- Continue to improve agricultural water use efficiency through innovation.
- Implement water conservation practices.
- Improve implementation of nonpoint source controls.
- Conduct irrigation audits By winterizing your irrigation system you can improve your irrigation system efficiency, increase uniformity and better utilize water resources.
Through the process of conducting an irrigation audit this time of the year when it is easy to get into the field, around the pivots and under them for repairs you are also performing the check of your irrigation systems efficiency required by the Flint River Drought Protection Act (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/SB/213).
After efficiency and uniformity tests are “nestled all snug in their beds,” winterize your system. Briefly, that is the process of removing water from the spots prone to freeze in the winter, cleaning the engines, and preparing the system for a new beginning in the spring. A complete checklist for both center pivot and drip systems can be found in the “Winterizing your Irrigation System” publication (http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B1439).
So, before you exclaim “Happy Harvest, to all and to all a good winter”, get your irrigation systems ready for the winter so when you start the Deere or Case or IH for planting in the spring, the irrigation system will also be ready to provide the water needed for a good harvest next year while efficiently and uniformly applying the water resources needed for growth.
Remember to check in with the weekly Water Blog where we will put articles and links to water related issues across Georgia and the world. Blog.extension.uga.edu/water I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy Holiday Season!