The region, centered around Newport and Walnut Ridge, is an area both groups are targeting to increase conservation practices, said Guilherme Prezotti, Delta project manager for The Nature Conservancy.
As part of the conservation effort, Delta Plastics has offered to consult and install multiple inlet rice irrigation for growers interested in boosting water savings. MIRI involves using collapsible poly-tubing to simultaneously irrigate each paddy within a field. It helps improves crop uniformity as well as related herbicide and fertilizer efficacy.
Based on University of Arkansas studies, using MIRI along with PipePlanner — a computer program that helps determine tubing size and hole placement, can save 20-30% water. That doesn’t count the reduction in pumping costs or pump wear and tear.
The Murphy 24T timing devices, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, work much like a kitchen timer. They cannot be connected to a phone and don’t allow users to remotely turn off the pump.
Users can set the timer for up to a 24-hour irrigation set, and it will turn off the pump when the irrigation is complete. That means the user doesn’t have to drive out to manually shut off the pump and helps avoid overfilling fields.
Participants choose on which wells to have the timers installed, and “all of them have put them on the least accessible wells,” Prezotti said.
They will work on both diesel and electric pumps.
“Farmers prefer to put them on electric because there’s no clutch, and some farmers are concerned about the engine backspin when they shut (a diesel pump) off,” he said. But other farmers with diesel pumps say they don’t have a problem.
During the first year of the three-year program, the groups are targeting up to 30 farmers, and each participant will be limited to three timers apiece. So far, 12 farmers have signed up.
“If we’re very successful with this outreach, it will make our case strong to try to increase this project,” Prezotti said.
For more information, contact Prezotti at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-614-5098