Tag Archives: James Adkins

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.

James Adkins Irrigation

Our class had guest speaker James Adkins speak to us about irrigation systems not only here in the United States, but around the world. I found it very interesting how he went back to how irrigation systems first started and the different types and ways that they are used around the globe. Furthermore, Adkins discussed water use and the different water levels in the ground. This was very intriguing in regards to Delaware agriculture. On my home farm we do not have to use irrigation due to our soil type, whereas, other areas may not have as good of soil. Additionally, I was not aware on the amount of areas that rely solely on ground water which over time may run out. I was not aware that corn requires 22 inches per year of water in order to grow properly, it was something that had never crossed my mind even on our home farm where we grow corn.

James Atkins lecture on irrigation

James Atkins presented to us how not that much farm land in the world is irrigated but it is being used more often as time goes on. I was very surprised to hear that only 20% of the world’s farmlands are irrigated. There are many different types of ways to irrigate farmlands but they mostly choose to use other watering techniques. From 1950 to 2000 irrigation expanded over 280% but from 2000 to 2010 it only expanded 10%. I am shocked by this because I feel that irrigation would be quite beneficial for farming. Nowadays we see many different types of irrigation on farms such as center pivots and mobile irrigation systems to help farmers be more productive with crop growing.

Irrigation | James Adkins

Image result for irrigation

Water has become one of the most valuable resources in agricultural practices. Irrigation is the controlled application of water to crops at determined intervals. Irrigation aids in growing agricultural crops, and maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas, such as Colorado and California, and during periods of less than average rainfall.


James Adkins emphasized the importance of this water management strategy and even suggested irrigation practices are not new concepts. Many ancient civilizations including the Mayans, and Babylonia, terracing, hanging towers, and planting on hills with step-like plots were the very beginnings of irrigation concepts. The foundations from ancient agricultural practices helped guide us to today.

Adkins expressed that thirty percent of American agricultural utilizes flood irrigation. Flood irrigation is mostly used in the west where three to four inches of water are applied at a time, to be effective, the soils for this application much be heavy unlike some of Delaware’s sandy soils. Thirty percent of Delaware’s land is irrigated equivalent to 150 thousand acres. Following World War II, sprinkler irrigation systems became widespread because aluminum became available to use for things other than aircraft.

Guest Lecture by James Adkins

In oct 2nd, Mr. James Adkins lectured our class about the importance of irrigation in today’s agriculture. Agriculture is all about water, crops cannot survive without water. Therefore, water efficiency is a big concern, especially in the places where are lack of water. There are only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, in the meantime it produces 40% of food supply. Asia has the biggest percentage of irrigation about 68%. In India, 90% of its freshwater is used for agriculture and it cause approximately one‐fifth of the nation’s total electricity consumption. Crops need water, the amount of water used by 100 acres of corn in one day during pollination is 1 million gallons and it equal to the total water use of 10 households in a year. And it is unsustainable. It is pretty a shocking news for me. I have been heard so many appeals like, saving water, remember to close water tap. But compared to agriculture, citizens daily water consumption is not the significant problem of world’s fresh water shortage. It is really a critical issue for agriculture to solve. The improvement in irrigation technology do have advantage for this problem.

Guest Lecture: Irrigation

On October 2nd, James Adkins came to our class to discuss irrigation and its importance. Only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated and 40% of that provides our food. Asia has the largest percentage of irrigated land at 68%. India uses 90% of its freshwater  withdrawals for agriculture while China uses 65% of its freshwater withdrawals for agriculture. 

From state to state irrigation and water rights change. For example, the cost of California’s water is likely to be more expensive than the water we have in the east coast. California has more drought than us and so they are more likely to have higher prices for water. 

With new technologies, we changed our irrigation systems. We developed aluminum pipes after World War II because we have a lot of aluminum left over from the war. The extra materials were put to good use. Then came the center pivot. The center pivot is easy to use and it provides an even distribution of water across all the crops. 

Irrigation is an important part of our agriculture system, so it is best to have the highest quality equipment that provides the most payoff.

Irrigation Guest Lecture

It was very interesting to learn about the different types of irrigation. Growing up in Delaware, we mainly see center pivot irrigation. I had no idea there were so many other types of irrigations. I found it astonishing that Asia has the highest percentage of irrigated land, ranking in at about 68% of the land irrigated. That is a huge amount of irrigated land compared to America’s 17%. We also learned that about 15-35% of irrigation withdraws are considered unsustainable. Knowing from previous lectures that about 40% of Delaware is farm land, it was interesting to see that about 30% of that farm land is irrigated. Sussex County is irrigated more due to the more sandy soils.

Agricultural Irrigation

James Adkins’s opening statement of “while only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, it produces 40% of our food supply” really makes one think about the huge importance of water. India uses 90% of its freshwater supply for agricultural irrigation. That means almost 1/5 of their electricity supply is used just for irrigation. In the United States, almost half of the farmland is irrigated with flood irrigation. Flood irrigation is a method used in ancient cultures and could be considered a very primitive way of irrigation; it uses pipes or ditches to move water through the ground to crops. This method is effective but not efficient nor sustainable. However, 43% of California’s farmland still uses this method rather than drip irrigation. Here in Delaware, 30% of farmland is irrigated. A few popular methods for irrigation would be drip irrigation or center pivot irrigation. Drip irrigation is easy to control and monitor but is hard for large fields. Drip irrigation is best for smaller fields or orchards. In large fields, center pivot irrigation is most commonly used. With center pivot it is harder to control the amount of water and accuracy leading it to a less sustainable and efficient option; research and technology updates help to increase the accuracy of center pivot irrigation. Water, of course, is vital to all living species and it is not a renewable source, so we must figure out how to use it most efficiently and effectively. The technology of irrigation has done just that and will continue to grow and improve.

James Adkins on the Introduction to Irrigation

James Adkins visited the class last week to teach us about different forms of irrigation used for crop production all around the world. He first quizzed us on different topics relating to irrigation. According to one of his “quizzes”, while only 20 percent of the world’s farmland is irrigated, it produces over 40 percent of the planet’s food supply. The different types of irrigation he showed include flood irrigation, where water is distributed across the land naturally, with no pumps involved, this form of irrigation is used on about half of the 60 million acres of irrigated land in the U.S. He also included drip irrigation, and center-pivot irrigation, where equipment rotates around a pivot to water crops. Adkins showed us the historical evolutions of these irrigation systems and how they’ve improved over time as well.

Currently, Asia accounts for 68 percent of the world’s irrigation use, while America only accounts for 17 percent. Specifically, in India, over 90 percent of its freshwater is used for crop production, and one-fifth of the nation’s total electricity goes toward pumping this water for irrigation. From a global perspective, roughly 15 to 35 percent of this irrigation is considered unsustainable.

Lastly, Adkins showed us the new technologies behind irrigation with mapping and NVDI images to confirm a fully-functioning VRI system. As well as monitoring systems that can even be used from the comfort of your own smartphone. Watering crops is definitely more complicated than I thought it was in the past!

James Adkins Guest Lecture

James Adkins gave a guest lecture last Wednesday about irrigation. He discussed the various types of irrigation that have been used historically as well as recent developments,  such as Variable Rate Irrigation. VRI allows farmers to control the amount of water put out by irrigation over specific areas, improving efficiency and reducing water consumption.

I was surprised to discover that 68% of irrigated land is located in Asia. China and India specifically use a huge amount of their freshwater to irrigate crops, with India using approximately 20% of its electricity to pump water for irrigation.

In the United States, irrigation accounts for 37% of all groundwater used. About half of the irrigation in the U.S. is flood irrigation. Flood irrigation involves flooding a field with water in order to allow the soil to absorb it. This method of irrigation is considered to be inefficient. Flood irrigation is most prevalent in California, where 43% of farmland used flood irrigation.


Guest Speaker James Atkins: Introduction to Irrigation

“ The Towers of Avalon was some of the first irrigated Agriculture” (James Atkins). James Atkins, an Irrigation specialist, informed the students of the University of Delaware about the importance of irrigation, the history, the irrigation methods used today, and the water rights that have been placed within the United States and in neighboring countries. Irrigation, one of the many important aspects in feeding the world, allows farmers and producers to control the amount of water that is placed on the field which allows the crop to get the needed amount of water for growth and development; essentially creating a higher yield. However, this was only possible due to the Towers of Avalon and their method of irrigation to apply water to their crops. During the earlier centuries, the towers of Avalon created and used the method of pumping water from a dam and letting it flow down to the field to apply water to their crops. This essentially, allowed for many to have a foundation to develop further methods of irrigation that eventually led to the use of aluminum pipes due to the abundance of aluminum after World War II to build sprinkler systems that are rolled manually, hard hose irrigation, and central irrigation.

With the developments of methods of irrigation during the earlier centuries, many were able to develop advanced systems that fit the different types of crops and their needs. Today, the irrigation methods of subsurface drip irrigation, traveling gun irrigation, shallow surface irrigation, and central pivot irrigation are used, the most widely being, central pivot irrigation. Central pivot irrigation, a process in which equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered through the sprinklers on the system that have zone and variability controlling that controls each of the individual water dispensing nozzles on the center pivot irrigation system and allows for efficient water dispensing over the areas needed on the field. With the use of irrigation of the fields, many states near a water source are under water rights due to the concern of the sustainability of water in that area, thus, this allows many to share the water without over usage of it. From this presentation, many things about the irrigation methods in the past and current day time can be learned which can help me and the other students develop a greater understanding of growing crops and the processes within it.

Throughout this lecture, Mr. Atkins discussed the importance of irrigation across the United States and the history that irrigation to be in the standing it is today which led myself and other students to develop a further understanding of irrigation and its benefits to farmers and producers and discover an interesting fact which was that irrigation is needed in many dry regions of the earth which has resulted into water rights to be placed to prevent the water source from running out.

James Adkins Irrigational importance

Irragation is of the utmost importance and is something that seems like will always need improvements on how we can use water effectivly  and efficiently. When James talked about the pivot irrigation I was surprised to learn about how inconsistent even the most consistent one was. But, as I thought about it makes sense. I wonder if there are any better Ideas for irrigation in the works or being tested out somewhere? The technology he talked about was pretty amazing to. I know Professor Issacs touched on this before about being able to control a whole farms irrigation system from your smart phone. It’s just crazy to think about controlling such an big and important machine from your hand held device. The zone control with the different soil types so the irrigation system knows how much water each zone needs is a very fascinating as well and it seems very practical to help plants get all the water they need for a nice full harvest.

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.

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.

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!