Water conservation highlights Expo
by Paisley Boston
Jan 24, 2014 | 2410 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Irrigation Specialist Dr. Jason Krutz explains the significance of proper irrigation practices.
Irrigation Specialist Dr. Jason Krutz explains the significance of proper irrigation practices.
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Food, informative booths, and door prizes were just a few of many amenities offered at the 41st Annual Delta Agricultural Exposition on Thursday.

Farmers and spectators came out to enjoy a day that was primarily focused on Mississippi's number one industry, agriculture.

Over 100 booths lined the walls and isles of the Bolivar County Exposition Center – each booth had tables that were piled high with information about various farming practices and irrigation techniques.

The Delta Ag Expo gave farmers the opportunity to meet an array of individuals who focus on improving the agricultural industry.

Several seminars were conducted to aid in the promotion of new farming technology and techniques.

During the morning session, Irrigation Specialist Dr. Jason Krutz conducted a seminar on irrigation, voluntary metering and water conservation.

"Most producers simply guess when to irrigate and when to stop, but you can’t just look at a field and know if it has enough water. Some crops suffer water shortages even when they have access to irrigation,” said Krutz.

“There is evidence that by using water sensors to time irrigations properly, farmers can reduce water use by up to 40 percent," he added.

Krutz said Mississippi State University scientists want to help farmers become efficient irrigators.

Some of the tools researchers with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station have studied include the Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool, evapotranspiration monitors and thermal canopy sensors.

“We have been irrigating fields for a long time, but this is the first year we can know the exact moisture content of the soil,” he said.

“In the past, we used a soil probe or shovel or visual inspections to decide when to irrigate and when to stop," continued Krutz.

Sharkey County farmer Clark Carter also conducted a seminar about corn and how to know when farmers need to irrigate their crops by observing the inside portion of the cob.

"Break a corn cob in half and observe the cross-section of the top half of the ear. Since it takes approximately 20 days for the milk-line to progress from the kernel tip to the base, it will take about another 10 days to reach physiological maturity," said Carter.

"This means that the field needs to be irrigated enough to supply moisture for 10 more days," he added.

Farmer Bill Coppage of Greenville said that he has found some of the information gathered from the expo to be helpful and that he knows the significance of conservation.

"Our water table is depleting every year and if we are going to have water for the future we have to use good conservation practices. Conservation is a big thing now," said Farmer Bill Coppage of Greenville.

"Right now everybody is in kind of a conserving water mode. Good irrigation practices will help them to conserve water and still grow their crops," he added.

According to Coppage, the most common practice that most farmers are using in Mississippi to conserve water is pipe planter – this helps them to water their fields without wasting a lot of water.

"Farmers are also starting to put flow meters on wells to tell how much water is being used. Some farmers are using engine timers that automatically shut off whenever so many gallons of water has been dispersed," continued Coppage.

Although hundreds of farmers were in attendance for the occasion, some local high school students also got a chance to "weigh in" on some of the action.

"I brought my students here so that they can get the feel of what agriculture really is and what it means to us. I feel that the Delta Ag Expo is highly beneficial to my students because they get a chance to see that there is more to farming then just planting and growing crops," said Cleveland Vocational and Technical Center Agriculture teacher Tiffany Mitchell.

"The students enjoy walking around to different booths and reading the pamphlets.

When we return to school, each student has to write a report that tells what they learned and choose one booth they liked the most. They pretty much have to summarize their entire experience," Mitchell continued.

The Delta Ag Expo concluded today with an update on rice and a round table discussion session.