The online "Energy Estimator for Irrigation" released by USDA is an excellent tool to help producers make decisions about irrigation, says Irrigation Association Executive Director Tom Kimmell.

"The energy estimator simplifies a complex process. It’s a common sense tool that can help farmers weigh numerous variables to make decisions about irrigation upgrades. Upgrades that reduce energy usage often result in substantial water savings as well," Kimmell says.

The "Energy Estimator for Irrigation," available online, evaluates opportunities to improve irrigation energy and water efficiency. Growers can visit the website, enter information about their irrigation system and receive an analysis of potential changes that can result in energy and/or water savings. The program requires data about the type of irrigation system, irrigated crops, power source, well lift, pressure, price per unit of energy and whether the producer uses a flow meter, irrigation scheduling or a maintenance program.

USDA estimates that improving irrigation efficiency by 10 percent could reduce diesel consumption by 27 million gallons and save farmers $55 million a year. The estimator is available at http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/energy. Learn more about the Irrigation Association at http:// www.irrigation.org.