Arkansas crop producers who want to get better control of their water use during the 2020 growing season will have several opportunities through a series of irrigation and water management schools.
Chris Henry, associate professor and water management engineer for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the class size and curriculum of each school is designed for maximum impact for growers.
“The schools are ‘small group’ with short instruction, and include practical exercises,” Henry said.
Surge/Soil Moisture Sensor Schools
Surge and Soil Moisture Sensor Schools will cover use, layout and programming of surge valves for different soil types and conditions. There are five schools currently scheduled in February and March, and others may be scheduled as requested.
The schools teach participants the basics of soil moisture sensors and how to use them to schedule irrigation. Participants will make a set of Watermark sensors in the school. Instructors will also discuss using surge valves to improve irrigation efficiency.
The cost of the school is $500, which includes four sensors, a slide hammer installation tool and a manual reader for those who do not have the tools needed to use sensors. The industry has provided a deep discount on the supplies need to get started with sensors, so that participants can get the tools they need to use sensors effectively for irrigation.
Surge/Soil Moisture Sensor schools run from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; interested participants should contact the schools’ respective instructors to register.
Currently scheduled schools include:
• Feb. 11 – Jonesboro – Craighead County Extension Office, 611 E. Washington Ave., Jonesboro, Arkansas. To register, contact Branon Thiesse or Chris Grimes at 870-933-4565.
• Feb. 13 – Walnut Ridge – Lawrence County Library Meeting Hall, 115 W. Walnut St., Walnut Ridge , Arkansas. To register, contact Bryce Baldridge or Courtney Sisk at 870-886-3741.
• Feb. 18 – Dumas – Dumas Community Center, 18 Belmont St., Dumas, Arkansas. To register, contact Amy Wallace 870-628-4542 ext. 3.
• March 3 – Searcy – White County Extension Office, 2400 Old Searcy Landing Road, Searcy, Arkansas. To register, contact Jan Yingling at 501-268-5394.
• March 6 – Weiner – Weiner Rice Festival Building, 208 Kings Highway, Weiner, Arkansas. To register, contact Craig Allen or Jeffrey Works at 870-578-4490.
“The school is designed for those that want to use sensors in 2020,” Henry said. “We will prepare participants with all of the items needed so they can walk out the door and install and use sensors on their farm.”
The number of participants for each school is limited to 15-20 people. To have a school hosted in your area, contact your county Extension office.
This school is being supported by the Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Multiple inlet rice irrigation
The Division of Agriculture is also hosting schools for rice farmers who use or wish to use multiple inlet rice irrigation on difficult fields. The school teaches growers how to use the Rice Irrigation mobile app to plan MIRI in fields. The school will also show how to use levee survey programs and tractor GPS equipment to create the levee files for the plan.
“We finally have a tool that allows anyone with a mobile device to design the most complex fields for MIRI at the lowest cost in a matter of minutes,” Henry said.
Support for the school is being provided by the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. There is no cost for the school.
For more information about these irrigation schools, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. For a list of offices, see www.uaex.edu/counties.
The University of Arkansas contributed this article.