The weather this year has presented many challenges, including a cold, late spring that delayed planting and excess rain starting in late July that significantly affected the harvest season.
“However, there is a future upside to excess rain in that it recharges both the subsoil in the root zone and fills the aquifers used for irrigation,” said Tom Scherer, North Dakota State University Extension agricultural engineer.
Technology developments applied to water storage structures for irrigation and using subsurface tile for subirrigation will be the highlights of the NDSU Extension irrigation workshop being held Dec. 6 in Bismarck, N.D.
Irrigation provides more consistent crop production on a year-to-year basis, allows growth of longer-season crops, diversifies the farm enterprise and provides a consistent supply of forage for animal operations. However, North Dakota typically has excess water in the spring followed by a dry July and August, when crops are maturing and using the most water. Finding ways to store excess water for later use in the growing season is one way to ensure a reliable irrigation water supply.
“The competition for water is increasing every year and access to good-quality water for expanding irrigated acres will become more difficult in the future,” Scherer said. “However, with a reliable water source, investing in irrigation is a great hedge against drought periods during the growing season.”
The workshop will be in the Grand Pacific Room at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck. It will be held in conjunction with the North Dakota Water Users Association convention.
NDSU Extension and the North Dakota Irrigation Association sponsor the workshop. An irrigation exposition for suppliers to display their products and services will be held at the same time.
The registration fee of $30 is payable at the door and includes lunch.
Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and workshop presentations begin at 8:30 a.m.
The morning session will include remote monitoring of aquifer water levels, using the local terrain to develop water storage structures, using spring snowmelt water to recharge an aquifer, an update on the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) and three presentations by farmers using their drain tile systems to subirrigate.
The North Dakota Irrigation Association will hold its annual meeting in the same room from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
The afternoon session will include a presentation on using solar power to provide the energy for pumping irrigation water, followed by a special session on irrigation and bioenergy production.