Have you ever wondered what fair price could be charged for the water your pivot delivers to an adjacent neighbor’s field? Or have you wondered what it would cost if you changed to a different fuel source?
The Irrigation Cost calculator was first developed by Tom Dorn, retired Extension Educator, and was a tool I used and recommended to farmers and landlords in various situations such as those above. The tool has now been redesigned as an online tool with updated numbers built in. Data is entered by you for your operation and calculations are made on a remote server. You can then choose to save your data for later reference or to input various options to compare costs. Calculated output includes fixed and variable costs calculated per-acre and per-acre-inch of water applied. The following information is from Roger Wilson, Extension Farm Management Specialist and Budget Analyst.
To use this tool, you’ll need to gather some key information:
- Operating data such as interest rates, wage rates, area irrigated and inches applied, diesel price or electricity rates, and drip oil price. (Energy costs may be estimated from pumping lift, system pressure, and pumping plant efficiency or from historical data such as past energy costs, past fuel prices or electrical rates, and past application rates.)
- Ownership costs such as the estimated replacement price, expected life and the salvage values for the well, pump, power plant, gear head, and sprinkler system.
Fair Share Feature for Adjoining Parcels
After these costs have been calculated, you can use the “Fair Share” feature to estimate the cost for running a center pivot over adjacent land. Additional data needed for these calculations are the number of adjacent acres to be irrigated and the estimated acre inches that will be applied. The “fair share” can be calculated on the added acres irrigated or on the amount of water applied. This feature has two components: fixed and variable costs. The fixed cost is an annual cost and the variable cost is for acre-inches of water applied.
Mobile Apps for Irrigation Management
Earlier this year UNL Extension introduced three mobile apps to aid in irrigation management, which are described further in UNL CropWatch in the links below:
Agriculture Irrigation Costs App. Calculates ownership and operating costs for center pivot and gated pipe irrigation systems and the most commonly used energy sources. This tool is based on the same resource as the Irrigation Cost Calculator web tool described above. The Web app is a “quick and dirty” means to calculate costs, while the mobile app offers more options for testing and analyzing various options. The mobile app offers side-by-side comparisons for systems that use different energy sources, analysis of gated pipe as well as center pivot systems, separation of landowner and tenant costs, and calculating yield increases necessary to pay for application of an extra inch of water.
Irrigation Pumping Plant Efficiency. Helps you identify irrigation pumping plants that are underperforming and need to be adjusted, repaired, or replaced with a better design.
Water Meter Calculator App. Calculates the amount of water pumped by irrigation pumping plants and can store data such as field size (in acres), flow meter units, and allocation and annual irrigation caps for each field.
The sun has been welcomed and crops are rapidly growing in South Central Nebraska! Corn right now is between V6-V8 (6-8 leaf) for the most part. Quite a few farmers were side-dressing and hilling corn the past two weeks. It never fails that corn looks a little stressed after this as moisture is released from the soil and roots aren’t quite down to deeper moisture.
Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we’re finding good moisture to 3 feet in all fields in the area. The driest fields are those which were converted from pasture last year and we want to be watching the third foot especially in those fields. Pivots are running in some fields because corn looks stressed, but there’s plenty of moisture in the soil based on the watermark sensor readings I’m receiving for the entire area. So we would recommend to allow your crops to continue to root down to uptake deeper moisture and nitrogen.
The last few weeks we observed many patterns from fertilizer applications in fields but as corn and root systems are developing, they are growing out of it. We’ve also observed some rapid growth syndrome in plants. This can result from the quick transition we had from cooler temperatures to warmer temperatures, which leads to rapid leaf growth faster than they can emerge from the whorl. Plants may have some twisted whorls and/or lighter discoloration of these leaves, but they will green up upon unfurling and receiving sunlight. This shouldn’t affect yield.
Damping off has been a problem in areas where we had water ponded or saturated conditions for periods of time. We’ve also observed some uneven emergence in various fields from potentially a combination of factors including some cold shock to germinating seedlings.
We began applying sugar to our on-farm research sugar vs. check studies in corn. We will continue to monitor disease and insect pressure in these plots and determine percent stalk rot and yield at the end of the season.
Leaf and stripe rust can be observed in wheat fields in the area and wheat is beginning to turn. We had some problems with wheat streak mosaic virus in the area again affecting producers’ neighboring fields when volunteer wheat wasn’t killed last fall. Alfalfa is beginning to regrow after first cutting and we’re encouraging producers to look for alfalfa weevils. All our crops could really use a nice slow rain right now!