Drip irrigation opens new frontier for research on the rolling plains

A new irrigation well and state-of-the-art drip irrigation system may dictate research here for decades, according to one scientist at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Vernon.

“We don't have a drip system one here in this region,” said Dr. John Sij, professor of agronomy. “But there are plenty of areas where drip could be utilized.”

A new drip irrigation system will be put in this winter at the Chillicothe research station, Sij said. “It will open up a whole array of research opportunities that will ultimately benefit the producers in the region by making their water go further.

“We know things about drip, but we can learn a lot more with our system,” he said. “Hopefully, we will become the premier drip irrigation site in Texas.”

With a new well in place, researchers in the future will be able to expand irrigated acreage from 15 to 45, Sij said. The new system also will allow them to increase the number of replicated studies.

“We want versatility,” he said. “We want to have three to four replications for each study.”

Under the new system, researchers can evaluate deficit irrigation and termination timing all in the same season. In addition to cotton, they can study other crops under drip irrigation, such as corn, soybeans, canola, sorghum and forages, Sij said.

The new system being installed at the Experiment Station will have both 40-inch and 80-inch drip line centers.

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