SRWMD Partners With Grower to Implement Subsurface Drip Irrigation Pilot Project

Farmer in field
District staff tours a local farm that is using subsurface drip irrigation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Vanessa Fultz, Office of Communications
Suwannee River Water Management District
386.362.1001 or 800.226.1066 (FL)
www.mysuwanneeriver.com

SRWMD partners with grower to implement subsurface drip irrigation pilot project

LIVE OAK, FL, April 30, 2014–Suwannee River Water Management District (District) staff recently participated in a demonstration at a local farm that is using subsurface drip irrigation to grow corn. Subsurface drip irrigation is a highly efficient water savings technology that enables growers to reduce water use by 25-30 percent while maintaining current crop yields.

Gary Cone explained the successfulness of his subsurface drip irrigation system that is used to water and fertilize more than 50 acres of corn on his Hamilton County farm. Cone received cost-share funds from the District to assist with the costs of the drip tape and an on-site computer system, which allows him to program the system to irrigate only when needed. This is the second year Cone will be using the technology to irrigate.

With this technology, plants are watered using drip tape that is buried underground. Subsurface drip irrigation allows growers to deliver irrigation and fertilizer at the root zone. This method prevents evaporative losses that may occur with other types of irrigation methods and reduces the leaching of fertilizers into the aquifer.

“This has been a successful project for me. It allows me to save water and fertilizer, cut energy costs, and maintain the same crop yield of corn that I was getting with center pivot irrigation,” Cone said. “I appreciate the District contributing to the cost of this technology.”

Additionally, Cone said this technology has enabled him to increase the number of acres he is farming by allowing him to irrigate a piece of land that is too compact for a center pivot irrigation system.

Subsurface drip irrigation is fairly new to growers in north Florida, but the District hopes to increase implementation of this technology throughout the region.

“The District appreciates the opportunity to partner with Mr. Cone to demonstrate the effectiveness of subsurface drip irrigation as a pilot project for reducing water use in our area,” said District Executive Director Ann Shortelle. “We hope that other farmers within the District can learn about and benefit from the demonstration of this irrigation method.”

As part of the program, Cone is also implementing best management practices (BMPs) to conserve water and protect water quality and is participating in the District’s water use monitoring program. Some of the BMPs he is using include no till practices, which prevents the soils from losing organic matter and reduces soil erosion, and sap testing of plants to prevent the over-application of nitrogen.

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Suwannee River Water Management District (District) staff recently participated in a demonstration at a local farm that is using subsurface drip irrigation to grow corn.

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