Kansas State University offers growers an online calculator to help determine the efficiency of a drip irrigation system compared to center pivot or furrow watering. It can be accessed at http://bit.ly/RvkiiI.

Inge Bisconer, technical marketing manager for Toro Co. Micro Irrigation,says Toro offers an online calculator that enables growers to estimate how long it will take for a drip system to pay for itself.

The “payback wizard” atallows the user to enter his state, crop to be irrigated, current irrigation system (gravity, mechanized, etc.), number of acres watered and cost of water per acre-foot.

For example, a farm in Nebraska, irrigated corn with a gravity or furrow system on 100 acres at a cost of $20/acre/ft., could install a new SDI system and see its cost paid back in just over five years. In addition, an extra 31 acres could be irrigated with the amount of water saved.

The payback period will vary according to each individual situation, so each line item in the analysis may be customized, Bisconer says.

Additional drip irrigation information is available through www.toro.com/agriculture, and through Extension offices. The K-State site is http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/sdi/. Other SDI system companies, such as Netafim http://www.netafimusa.com/agriculture also offer information on switching to drip irrigation.