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Irrigating with polyacrylamide (PAM) - Nine years and a million acres of experience


Sojka, R.E. and Lentz, R.D. and Shainberg, I. and Trout, T.J. and Ross, C.W. and Robbins, C.W. and Entry, J.A. and Aase, J.K. and Bjorneberg, D.L. and Orts, W.J. and Westermann, D.T. and Morishita, D.W. and Watwood, M.E. and Spofford, T.L. and Barvenik, F.W. (2000) Irrigating with polyacrylamide (PAM) - Nine years and a million acres of experience. pp. 161-169. In: Proc. of 4th Decennial National Irrigation Symposium. USA-AZ-Phoenix, 2000/11/14-16. ASAE, St. Joseph, MI.

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Polyacrylamide (PAM) has been available commercially since 1995 for reducing
irrigation-induced erosion and enhancing infiltration. The first series of practical field tests was
conducted in 1991. PAM used for erosion control is a large water soluble (non-crosslinked)
anionic molecule (12-15 megagrams per mole) containing < 0.05% acrylamide monomer. In
controlled field studies PAM eliminated, on average, 94% (80-99% range) of sediment loss in field
runoff from furrow irrigation, with a typical 15-50% relative infiltration increase on medium to fine
textured soils compared to untreated controls. Similar but less dramatic results have been seen with
sprinkler irrigation. Under some conditions infiltration is unchanged or can even be slightly
reduced, e.g. in sandy soils or where PAM application rates are very high. Results are achieved
with per irrigation field application rates of about 1 kg per hectare, for furrow irrigation, and 2 to 4
kg per hectare for sprinkler irrigation. Cost of PAM is $7 to $13 per kg. Seasonal application
totals vary from 3 to 7 kg per hectare. Farmer field sediment control has been around 80% of test
plot results. Substantial runoff reductions have been documented for nutrients, pesticides,
microorganisms, BOD, and weed seed. No adverse effects have been seen for soil microbial
populations. Crop yields have not been widely documented, though evidence exists for yield
increases related to infiltration improvement. High effectiveness, low cost, and ease of application,
compared to traditional conservation measures, has resulted in rapid technology acceptance in the
US and internationally. PAM-use for runoff water quality protection is one of the most potent
new irrigation environmental technologies in the market place. New uses in construction and
dryland erosion control are being developed rapidly. This paper discusses new insights and
understanding of PAM-use and potential for future developments

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
NWISRL Publication Number: 1022
Subjects: Polyacrylamide (PAM) > Water-soluble PAM (WSPAM)
Mass Import - autoclassified (may be erroneous)
Depositing User: Users 6 not found.
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2010 21:56
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 15:25
Item ID: 943