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Irrigation on good soil in midwest
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Posted 12/4/2023 21:58 (#10510506 - in reply to #10510359)
Subject: RE: Irrigation on good soil in midwest

Northwest Illinois
Irrigation on good soils is harder than it looks. How much water is needed to grow high yielding crops? When is it actually going to rain? Am I over watering? Do these damp mornings and wet plants during the day create disease? Does cool well water affect plant growth on 100 degree days and are those days the right ones for a corn crop? These are questions I ask myself everyday here in northwestern Illinois.

Recently I’ve been doing more water samples because all water isn’t created equal. I’ve found my oldest wells are highest in bicarbonates and some are like adding 60 lbs of lime an acre for every inch of water applied. My soil ph isn’t off but rarely need lime under the pivots. I’ve learned that these high bicarbonates are like a glue that holds the nutrients in the soil and doesn’t allow mineralization like I might see on the non irrigated portions of the field. I’ve seen these areas out yield irrigated and also see a lot more disease pressure. We’re trying to decide if the disease is from the lack of micro uptake in the soils or if it’s just creating a wet environment. I think it’s both.

This year I told myself I was going to water less because of these problems and was very challenging because of how dry we were. My soils range from 5-30 CEC with most lighter soils irrigated and most heavier soils drained. My best field is 15-18 cec and has a pivot on it. I ran it very little this year because the plants weren’t stressed even with lack of rain fall. We had dew every morning and the hazy days blocked the hot sunlight. I saw rhe same yield through out the field whether it was irrigated or not. It’s been my highest yield I’ve ever produced on a field and don’t believe more water would’ve made more yield. In fact on a neighboring farm I made less yield under the pivot because one number root tipped. I struggle to keep the pivot on these types of soils because I rarely see a benefit and now with the water issue, I’m worried I’ll hurt more than I’ll help. I’ve considered moving them to a new farm that is very light.

I guess my opinion is if you do decide to install a pivot, make sure your water is suitable for irrigation. Be very diligent of when and how much water you’re applying. At minimum $1000 per acre of investment figure how many years and bushel it’ll take to recoup the investment.

Edited by winner2011 12/5/2023 06:50
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