Tag Archives: irrigation

Mr. James ADKINS on, ‘The Importance of Irrigation & Water Management in Delaware’

On October 2, 2019 Mr. James ADKINS spoke to us on irrigation practices across the state of Delaware and how they’ve evolved over time.  Mr. ADKINS has a Bachelors degree from the University of Maryland and works at the UD Carvel Research Center and is an Extension Specialist with fruits and vegetables.  He also worked with Mr. KEE- the man who brought PictSweet to Delaware along with mechanized pickling.  Additionally, Mr. ADKINS works with equipment, technology, and irrigation nationally and internally, as well as handling irrigation on Warrington Farm.

The talk began with a brief history on irrigation in relation to the systems used today.  Only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated but 40% of the world’s food supply is produced with irrigation.  Mr. ADKINS traces irrigations humble beginnings to the Towers of Babylon in Machu Picchu, originally pumped by slaves.  Irrigation systems requiring man-power could be found in other ancient civilization throughout the world, as well as animal, wind, and water power.

One of the first methods of irrigation Mr. ADKINS discussed was flood irrigation.  Also called gravity/furrow irrigation, it is used when a weir controls the water flow.  This type of irrigations works best on heavy (capable of holding a lot of water), mostly level soil where 3-4inches of water is applied per application- Delaware is not level enough to employ this method.  In California, however, each farm receives this type of water delivery method 4 times per year with a 4 inch application each time.  Siphon tubes are used to run water across a ditch with grated pipe, a system used by 30% of U.S. farms.  A canal manager/operator oversees the transfer of water between farms as farmers upstream receive the water, then that tailwater is re-used on the next farm down. Mr. ADKINS tells us that there are stockholders in canal water- reiterating the points made by Mr. KEE about the complicated water rights in California.  The Homestead Act and combined with the controversy around who owns what means farmers may not even own the water underneath their property.

After WW2 came the advent of the pressurized sprinkler system. With this system came the second method of irrigation, using hand-moved pipe.  This pipe was made from aluminum, originally sourced from scrapyards in Washington and Oregon where airplane manufacture had been done.  This system was often used in the western U.S.  A variation of this system, side-roll wheeled-pipe, could be hooked to 150-200ft risers underground and can be seen in use in Idaho.  This system doesn’t work well with corn.

Another pressurized system, the traveling gun, can be used for corn, soybeans, wheat, and other agronomic crops.  This device has the spraying power of 10-20 fire hose in pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure.  This force is not evenly applied, however, and the machine itself requires lots of power and fuel, meaning it has negative energy efficiency.  This device is often used on sports fields, running 6hours at a time to cover 10acres.  It is a poor choice to give water to newly plant, fragile, and shallow rooted crops.

Frank ZYBACH’s center pivot irrigation, uses an anemometer powered by water.  The crops it is used on are often planted in circles.  Mr. ADKINS showed us examples of it’s use in Nebraska, but it is broadly used, even in largely desert countries like Saudi Arabia.  The system is used in Delaware and works well with furrow planted crops.

The greatest percentage of irrigated land exists in Asia, where 68% of the farmland receives water via surface water irrigation like dams and hydroelectric.  Half of the 60 million acres of U.S. farmland that are irrigated use flood (surface water) irrigation. Mr. ADKINS informed the class that the first source of irrigation is often surface water before acquirers are sourced for water instead- aquifers require more pressure to pump water and therefore more money.  Most of the irrigated farms in Asia are small, encompassing less than 5acres.  90% of India’s freshwater is used for agricultural irrigation compared to 65% of China’s freshwater.

After Asia, America comes in at a mere 17% with it’s irrigated farmland, followed by Europe at 9%, Africa at 5%m and Oceana at 1%.  The U.S.’s irrigated farm area expanded rapidly from 1950 to 2000, going from 250 acres to 700 acres, or 280% in 50years.  This is staggering, compared to the 10% increase from 2000 to 2010.  Despite the more modern methods of irrigation utilized in the U.S., many aquifers are struggling.  An example would be the large Oklahoma state high plains aquifer that is being depleted faster than it can naturally recharge- the rivers going through aren’t given the chance to percolate. Globally 15-35% of irrigation withdrawals are projected to be unsustainable. In California, irrigation withdrawals were a mere 19% in 2005, with almond trees allowed to die as irrigation water is diverted to the city for people to drink instead.

In Delaware, 30% of the farmland, or 15, 000 acres is irrigated.  In Sussex County Delaware, 50% of the farmland is irrigated.  In the older properties of the county, many wells are hand-dug and only go as deep as 40ft, when modern wells are often much deeper.  Controversy often arises from citizens believing the neighboring farms center-pivot system is pumping out their drinking water, however this is often incorrect as domestic-use wells are deeper than irrigation wells and often tap into different aquifers because the aquifers are ‘stacked’ underground.  Companies like Tidewater and Artesian can capitalize on these water disputes by promising new residents in their brand new developments, ‘fresh, uncontaminated drinking water’.  When consumers buy a property they purchase water allocation rights, meaning the cone of influence to off-set their neighbor can’t exceed a foot of their well water.

Irrigation can also give locales on brink of disaster a second chance.  In Ken BURNS’ documentary, ‘The Dust Bowl’ an Oklahoma city is irrigated after a lack of rainfall due to climactic change and the farmland is able to be recovered.  In Saudi Arabia, 16, 000ft. well are dug to pump acquirers in the desert and increase the countries food security in times of conflict.  Water desalinating technology is another expensive method used to bring water to the desert.

Lastly, Mr. ADKINS discussed ways in which aquifers are made more effective and efficient.  1 million gallons of water usage equals 10 households per year, 1.5 Olympic swimming pools, and 100 acres of corn in 1 day during the pollination stage. Much of the water applied to crops can be lost to the soil and air in a process referred to as evapotranspiration,or ET. Mr. ADKINS showed us an image of an old dike system where the aquifer was lined with concrete to prevent water loss from water seeping through the salt rock.  He shared an interesting anecdote in which, through his travels, he learned that Idaho kids can ride a raft down the river for 20miles to an overpass for recreation.  Certain cultivars, like corn, can use copious amounts of water- anywhere from 20-25inches, or an average of 22 in per year.  Crop coefficients can be measured and estimated based on crop and growth stage charts and taking variables like humidity, rainfall, and wind into consideration.  Increasingly high temperatures can make irrigation even less effective, as water is lost when plants are under heat stress.  In Delaware, the sprinkler, drip, and sub-surface irrigation may require more water usage in sandy soil, but still used less water overall that alternative methods.  In New Castle County, specific methods like drip irrigation can be better for the general soil type.

New irrigation technology was shown briefly at the end of the lecture. The Warrington Pivot works via SmartPhone and can be turned on remotely, creating added convenience and reducing the need for travel for farmers.  When using the corner system and center pivot, zone control can be employed to adjust the water distribution rates for varying soil types on different plots of land- also known as Variable rate irrigation, or VRI, a small system for an area f low variability can cost $25, 000 as opposed to upwards of $30-$40, 000 for a larger, more complex system.  To justify the expense, farmers use a free AGIS soil survey with records dating back to the 1940s to determine the needs of their property.  For additional support, farmers can seek the help of a Natural Resource Conservation Specialist.  Major soil variability will often occur near rivers and swamps, but any equipment for slight variability is usually used as a research tool, instead of a practical farming expense.

As the lecture lasted right up to the end of class, there was little in the way of closing statements or remarks.

Irrigation lecture: James Adkins

On October 3rd In our AGRI130 had guest speaker James Adkins came in and gave our class a lecture about irrigation and the benefits and disadvantages that can come with having irrigation. In his lecture he covered a wide range of different types of irrigation systems there are from center pivots  to traveling guns to flood irrigation. The thing that interested me the most was that only a small portion of the world is irrigated and those farms with that irrigation produce the majority of the crops and food the world needs. An from just riding around here down in Sussex county all you see is irrigation in the field for crops like your corn to you sod company’s that just need it to irrigate there grass for there customers. An then most of the place the use irrigation are going to may be likely to run out of water because the aquifers wont last forever.

The Wonders of Irrigation

On Wednesday, October 3rd James Adkins spoke to the AGRI130 class about irrigation systems used in agriculture. The process of irrigating crops vastly increases the yield in a growing season. As Mr. Adkins explained, 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated. This 20% supplies 40% of the world’s food supply! In the 1950s the center pivot irrigation was created. This became more efficient than previous methods of irrigation because it was less labor intensive. Today the pivot system is still in use, and mostly preferred. If you ever fly and look down and see the fields in the shape of circles, this is an indication that pivot irrigation is in use. Each span of this system runs about $11,000 dollars each. The average size of pivot irrigation seen in Delaware is usually about 5 spans. As technology continues to advance there might be a more effective irrigation system invented. However people are currently discovering the best way to use drones in agriculture and how to use the pivot irrigation systems to spread fertilizer. Overall, the lecture was so informative and extremely interesting. I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Adkins. 

James Adkins Guest Lecture

James Adkins presented us with a guest lecture on agricultural irrigation.  He talked about the different types of irrigation such as drip and center pivot irrigation, and how twenty percent of farmland is irrigated, but that twenty percent produces forty percent of our food supply.  I think that I was most surprised that Asia has the greatest percentage of irrigated land in the world with 68 percent while America only has 17 percent. It is interesting to note that thirty percent of the farmland in Delaware is irrigated, which is 150,000 acres, but fifty percent of Sussex County is irrigated because of it’s sandy soil.  Mr. Adkins also spoke about the technology that goes into irrigation, and how it has expanded in the past few years. The technology associated with irrigation is expected to continue expanded in the future, with the use of things like drones. There are many jobs that are associated with irrigation technology and as the technology expands, the jobs will as well.

Agricultural Irrigation with Guest Speaker James Adkins

On Wednesday October 3rd the AGRI130 Class had guest speaker James Adkins come in and talk about Agriculture Irrigation. Mr. Adkins opened his lecture by telling the class that 20% of the of the world’s farmland is irrigated and that this produces 40% of the worlds food supply. One reason why irrigated farmlands play such a big role in today’s food supply is due to the fact that the world’s irrigated area almost tripled from 250m in 1950 to 700m acres in 2000. Furthermore, Mr. Adkins went on to say that the state of Delaware alone has around 150,000 acres of irrigation. This accounts for 30% of farmland. James also stated that about half of all the irrigated land in the United States use flood irrigation. Mr. Adkins explained that flood irrigation is a less effective method of irrigation than drip irrigation. Mr. Adkins then explained that a high-yielding corn crop requires anywhere from 20 to 25 inches of water, but do best with 22 inches of water. Overall this was a very interesting topic that I earned a lot of fascinating things about.

Irrigation with James Adkins

Last Wednesday James Adkins guest lectured in class on agriculture irrigation. From the start I was very surprised by the quote he included that said, “While 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, it produces 40% of our foods supply.” This is actually pretty crazy to think that 20% of the farmland produces almost half  of the food supply, and that 20% has to pay for the costs of irrigation.  Through the lecture, James talked a lot about different types of irrigation systems, and different methods of irrigation around the US and world. It was really cool to see how things differed from location to location, especially when irrigation is not used on my farm at all. Irrigation is something in agriculture I am not exposed to much, so it was interesting to learn about the use/impacts of irrigation. He also talked about irrigation in California, which we briefly discussed during one of Ed Kee’s lecture.

James was really intriguing to listen to lecture because of his vast knowledge/experience with these systems. He talked about the process as well as what can go wrong with the systems. James also discussed the precision part of irrigation, and how technology has greatly impacted the accuracy and efficiency of irrigation. Ultimately, I learned a lot about agricultural irrigation from this lecture!

Agricultural Irrigation with James Adkins

Due to my personal interest in sustainability and natural resources, James Adkin’s lecture on agricultural irrigation was definitely the most captivating one so far this course.  Quite honestly, I had no idea there were so many different methods of irrigation in use today. Even ones that date back as far as Babylon’s ancient gardens are still in use today in parts of China.  As Mr. Adkins walked us through the many methods of irrigation, it was clear how development in technology and our understandings of the environment have both contributed to more efficient ways of providing crops with proper water and nutrients.  Irrigation can be found in a variety of methods all over the earth; surprisingly, most irrigation occurs in Asia, in countries that oftentimes fail to meet water needs for their citizens. In fact, in India, 90% of all of their freshwater goes directly to irrigating their crops.  Meanwhile, their citizens are dying of thirst and diseases from poor water quality. It was definitely interesting to learn all of these staggering statistics and facts. Another super intriguing part of the lecture was about California’s water war. The idea that the farmers and agricultural industry are in a battle with the humongous population of California cities for the water source that comes off the Sierras is crazy to think about.  California agriculture has no chance of winning this battle, so they struggle for other sources to maintain their yields. Overall, this lecture was one that kept my attention from start to finish, and certainly peaked my interest in water quality, sources, and sustainability.

James Adkins and Agriculture Irrigation

Last week our class had the opportunity to listen to James Adkins from the University of Delaware who gave a guest lecture on different aspects of the irrigation industry. James gave a very informational lecture with lots of facts that the average person or even farmer would not know. For instance I surely did not know that 20% of the World’s farmland is irrigated and that it produces 40% of the World’s food supply. I also did not know the overall history and how many advances in the technology of irrigation over the years. Living on the delmarva I was familiar with center pivot irrigation but I did not know about the overall variety of the different irrigation systems around the World. I also learned that Asia has the most irrigation in the World and that specifically India uses 90% of their freshwater for irrigation alone. Then looking at the United States I found it very interesting to learn that in the midwest they are extracting more water from reservoirs then can be replaced, which is going to be a huge problem in the future. Overall I found this presentation very eye-opening to a part of agriculture I did not know before.

James Adkins Guest Lecture

I really enjoyed James’s lecture on irrigation. I knew some of the information he presented but I definitely didn’t know the fun facts that he had up his sleeve. For example, only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated and this irrigated farmland produces 40% of the food supply! That’s very efficient for such little irrigated land. We learned about different types of irrigation like drip/trickle which is expensive and efficient so they use it a lot out in California and systems like center/ pivot and furrow irrigation which aren’t as efficient. The most widely used irrigation system is center/pivot, which why when you travel in a plane and look down you will see a bunch of circles on the ground; those circles are the center/ pivot irrigated fields. Asia actually has the largest amount of irrigated land which is cool to me because they also will have the largest population by the year 2050.

Irrigation with James Adkins

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is ride around with the sunroof open, and my least favorite thing is to accidentally get drenched by the irrigation system that is stretching out to the road. However, I never took into account the importance of these tools and how vital they are to the success of crops. One of the biggest things that stood out to me while listening to James was that only 20% of the worlds farmland is irrigated and of that 20%, we get 40% of our food supply. To think that such a great portion of the world is reliant on this small amount of crops signified to me just how important irrigation is. When I think irrigation, the only one I can think of is overhead pipe irrigation. This system moves on its own in a circular motion, allowing nozzles to disburse water evenly as possible onto the crop. This also can result in water being spread onto the road, and flying into your car if you aren’t careful. To my surprise however it is not the only type that is used. Another type of irrigation used is furrow irrigation which is a system in which water flows from one end of the crop to the other, but was deemed ineffective when one side of the crop was getting greater access to water than the other. Some parts of the world still use it, mostly successful in areas that have hills so water flows down at a greater rate. A third type of irrigation is called side roll pipe irrigation, which was used mainly by manual labor where it waters a certain area for a length of time and then it is up to someone to move it. In learning about the older and newer forms of irrigation not only goes to show the difference in technology but goes to show how evident irrigation has becoming in successfully growing crops. Without it we would have more failures than successes, in which could be detrimental to not only the farmer and the area around him, but has the potential to impact worldwide.

lecture about Irrigation system

In the class,  guest speaker James Adkins,  works at the UD research farm, had talked about the development of irrigation system.  Water is an essential part of farming. In the past, irrigation systems were not developed well, so they may wast water and cost more for a long term. Over time, the irrigation system has been improved.  It not only save the water resource and prevent pest and disease problem.  it does good and efficient work.  There are some areas are lack of water resource, like California. Advanced irrigation system gives a big help! The soil quality could tell how much water needed. after this lecture, i understand how important the combination of water and soil. and how important the soil and water mean to farmland.



James Atkins Irrigation

In James Atkins presentation he covered many  areas that focused on various areas of irrigation. He started his presentation with a very interesting act about how the Mayan empire had started the water irrigation through the way of buckets picking up water, later to be carried to the bottom for use. Another interesting fact he mentioned in his presentation was  that a million gallons of water use of 10 households in a year, 1 /2 olympic pools, water used by 100  acres of corn in 1 day and 166 tanker loads. James also stated that its so very key how much water a field and its distance from the pivot.  On one of the graphs it showed that the farther it got from the gun and right before the water gun that the amount of water was off the point where they wanted it to hit. Irrigation isn’t cheap either with the most expensive irrigation system being $600 to $3500 per acre.

Guest Lecture: James Adkins

Mr. James Adkins came in to speak to our class about irrigation and how it works, as well as all the different types.  He showed us center pivot, sprinkler systems, drip irrigation, and a very other types. He showed us pictures of circular crop fields, and explained that they are that way because of the center pivot irrigation. Some areas of the circle were less green because of inaccurate spraying. Luckily the systems now have the technology to control the amounts of water and nutrients each part of the field is sprayed with.  He also showed us a picture of what happens when you part where the wheel of the center pivot irrigation system will drive… the car was crushed. Irrigation is a very interesting and important aspect to agriculture. Mr. Adkins lecture was very informative and I am glad he came in to speak with us. I look forward to learning more about irrigation possibly in the future.

Irrigation Guest Lecture

James Adkins, the irrigation specialist at the UD research farm, gave a guest lecture to our class about irrigation. He showed us how irrigation systems have evolved through the years and which methods are the most efficient. It was amazing to see how advanced the technology was that could tell farmers when to apply and how much. This is especially important in some states where water is becoming harder and more expensive to resource to aquire, such as California, the biggest agricultural producer in the U.S. All the new irrigation technologies use precision ag for field mapping, data collection, and many other things. Irrigation has a very significant impact on yield, but soils and nutrients and rain fall also influence yield. Delaware for example has no where near the amount of topsoil as Iowa, therefore Iowa’s soil can hold a lot more water for a longer time period.  It was interesting to hear a lecture from someone with such an increasingly important job.

James Adkins Guest Lecture: Water is Essential for Life!

The lecture we had from James Adkins on irrigation was very enlightening for me, because prior to this class I did not realize the significance and intensity that irrigation has on agriculture which ultimately becomes food on our plates. It is more than just a simple watering system which I am guilty for once thinking. However, this may be how it once was when the Babylonians started irrigation. The first and most basic irrigation system is gravity irrigation, which needs elevation to allow the water to run down. There are also pressurized gravity systems which includes a gated pipe. We have also learned about central pivot as well as other systems including surface and sub-surface drip. All these different systems has pros and cons that should be taken into consideration with the type of crop needing the irrigation. Something interesting that he mentioned was how the solution for the Dust Bowl was irrigation so that there would consistently be crops to take away from the dust, which needed irrigation to have year round.

Another topic that James brought up in his lecture that I also did not realize was so major prior to this class was drones. In addition to all the benefits and enhancements that drones bring to the agriculture industry, he included that infrared with red green and blue spectrum being an aspect of the drone footage which allows predictions on the crops. This also allow people to analyze and pick up on stress in certain crops that may not be seen with the naked eye.

Overall this lecture was beneficial and relevant to the discussions we have in class and has increased the useful knowledge I have gained from this class and is another topic that people should be more informed about because it does eventually effect them from the food that they eat!