Mississippi County Extension Service working with growers using the Phaucet program
(This is the first of several articles which will follow the Phaucet Program from the beginning of irrigation to the harvest. Mississippi County Extension agents are working with growers throughout the county keeping a watch on the water usage.)
Ray Benson, Mississippi County Extension Service staff chair, and Jason Osborn, Mississippi County Extension Agent -- Agriculture, are working with growers throughout the county to promote and demonstrate the use of irrigation efficiency improving programs. Phaucet, a USDA Developed program, can help producers improve Poly Pipe irrigation efficiency by calculating the proper hole sizes needed for each irrigated row of crop. The program requires knowing the flow rate from the well (measured using a flow meter attached at the well) through the poly pipe, as well as the length and diameter of poly pipe used and the row length from the field. Phaucet uses these measurements to calculate the size of holes needed to be efficient with furrow irrigation.
Benson said this is especially helpful in fields where rows lengths are inconsistent across the field. According to Benson "a field using a Phaucet hole design will have a much more uniform flow across the field and most middles will water out at the same time." Benson said that having every middle water out evenly can prevent wasteful water run-off.
Furrow irrigation is a common irrigation practice used throughout the county.
The flow meters used to measure well flow rate registers the gallons per minute discharged from the well. The agents have apps on their I Pads and smart phones to measure the length of the rows and using the Phaucet program the correct diameter of the holes needed for the most efficient irrigation can be established.
The Phaucet design will be valid as long as the output (flow rate) from the well remains the same.
"We are keeping a close watch on the water levels," Benson said. "The USDA has estimated growers in our area need to become more efficient if our aquifer is to be sustainable. Our growers are good stewards of the natural resources and this is one way to help prevent overflow and measuring the right amount of water needed. This will help be more efficient with irrigation."
Tests using the Phaucet program have shown a 20-25 percent water savings. By saving water, the fuel cost is also reduced to the grower.
Osborn said over six years use in Crittenden County, he saw a substantial savings.
"We used it on 25,000 acres and saw a $1.87 an acre savings on fuel cost each time we irrigated," Osborn said. "It is proven to be beneficial."
"Everything we demonstrate in the county has been tested by University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture researchers and specialists and have been shown to work." Benson said. "Our job is to share ways to benefit the growers in our county."
Benson also expressed his appreciation to the growers throughout the county for their cooperation in the programs through the Extension Service.