Cotton Links


Conserving Water
A Priority For Farmers

By Tommy Horton

It might not sound like the most exciting topic to consider in this era of seed genetics, fiber quality and precision technology. But talk to a few farmers in any region, and you’ll find yourself eventually discussing water. It is the one agronomic factor that often makes the difference between spectacular yields and an average crop or even a disaster.

Call it what you will but water availability and efficient irrigation go hand-in-hand in today’s cotton production. Even if cotton is a crop that fares quite well in a semi-arid environment, the plant still needs water. So why talk about this now? Doesn’t every farmer already know this?

First, the reason we choose to talk about water issues now is because you’ll find that this is a factor in nearly every cotton-production state in the country. Some regions have better and more plentiful water sources than others, but it’s still something that can’t be taken for granted. Second, the reason for talking about it now is obvious. As urban populations begin to encroach on rural areas, the battle for water rights is becoming a full-blown political war in states such as California. For these reasons, farmers simply must make themselves more aware of the benefits of precise irrigation – especially in production agriculture where input costs are so high.

I once heard a farmer say that having an effective irrigation system was like having an insurance policy during the season. He might not be able to control many factors, but he knew that he had to have a reliable water source to have any chance at a good crop.

For that reason, we decided to address several water and irrigation topics in this month’s issue. We went to a couple of irrigation experts in Texas – Jim Bordovsky and Dana Porter – to find out how irrigation research is helping that state’s producers deal with unpredictable rainfall each year. You’ll find their story on pages 12, 13, and 14. We also checked in with Calvin Perry at the University of Georgia to see if Southeast producers might have common irrigation problems with Texas producers. You’ll find his question-and-answer interview on page 10.

To gain another perspective, Southeast Editor Amanda Huber has given us an update on how an Oklahoma producer meticulously uses water from a lake for furrow irrigation. You’ll find her story on producer Joe Kelly on page 9. Finally, we have a different kind of water story on page 16. That’s where you’ll find out how excessive rainfall and lack of an effective flood control plan affect thousands of farm acres in Mississipi’s South Delta region.

How important are effective irrigation and water availability? They are so important that farmers should never take them for granted. Water is a precious resource that must be protected at all costs.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.

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