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Cablegation: Automate supply for surface irrigation

Kemper, W.D. and Trout, T.J. and Kincaid, D.C. (1987) Cablegation: Automate supply for surface irrigation. In: Hillel, Daniel, (ed.) Advances in Irrigation. pp. 1-66.

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As competition intensified and water sources became limited, successful
irrigation farmers reduced labor input and increased application efficiency
of their irrigation. Sprinkler systems, such as the center pivot,
enabled them to do both. While energy costs were low, the economic
feasibility of sprinkler irrigation was sound. But energy costs have risen
without comparable increases in prices of farm products. Rising energy
prices drastically reduce the net returns of farmers whose systems consume
large amounts of expensive energy. The limited supply of fossil
fuels and their rate of depletion signify eventual shortages and continuing
increases in energy prices. Consequently, assessments were made of
where energy was being used in irrigated farming systems. Between 30
and 45% of the nonsolar energy involved in raising a crop of sprinkler-irrigated
corn or wheat in the western United States is consumed in irrigation
(Pimmental, 1980) when pumping from surface water. For crops such
as beans or alfalfa, which require little or no nitrogen fertilizer, the energy
used to pressurize water for sprinkling can be as high as 60 to 80% of the
total. The energy required for sprinkler irrigation is commonly three to
five times that required for operation of trucks and tractors on the farms.
It became apparent that irrigation methods requiring less energy input
must be developed if irrigated farms are to remain economically viable.
Substantial headway has been made toward decreasing the energy input
to sprinkler irrigation. However, practical considerations indicate that a
lower limit of energy consumption of about 40% of the original levels will
still be necessary for sprinkler irrigation. Farmers who can achieve desired
application efficiencies with improved surface irrigation systems will
avoid one of the major energy costs involved in their farming operations.

In 1979 funds were appropriated to the Agricultural Research Service of
the United States Department of Agriculture to develop systems and
management practices which would reduce the vulnerability of irrigation
farmers to increasing energy costs. Cablegation is a product of that research.
It is currently in use on over 70 fields in eight of the western
United States.

Item Type: Book Section
NWISRL Publication Number: 0612
Additional Information: Daniel Hillel of Dept of Plant and Soil Sciences, Univ. Mass., Amherst, Mass
Subjects: Practical farm efficiency
Mass Import - autoclassified (may be erroneous)
Depositing User: Dan Stieneke
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2010 21:55
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2017 18:49
Item ID: 773