Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories in
For example, researchers at the ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water and
Scheduling irrigations to meet crop demands is a challenge, but sprinkler systems are being developed to meet it. Current research is investigating the benefits of variable-rate irrigation.
Frequently, soil, topography and water needs vary within a field. For instance, a 14-acre field in
Excessive watering, a chronic pitfall, can leach chemicals into groundwater. In addition, wet plant leaves are more vulnerable to disease from moisture-loving fungi, increasing the need for fungicides.
Dale F. Heermann, a collaborator at the ARS Water Management Research Unit in
ARS researchers strive to improve efficiency and environmental consequences of traditional irrigation techniques. Great progress has been made, but Evans believes the best is yet to come.
You can learn more about this research in the October 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct05/fields1005.htm