This year's dry weather and high commodity prices have many farmers considering adding irrigation to the farm, says Extension irrigation specialist Lyndon Kelley with Purdue and Michigan State Universities.

"This is a really exciting time for irrigation in this area," says Kelley. "We have the water resources and we can increase yield by making up that one limiting factor: moisture.

"If you don't have enough water, it doesn't matter how much you invest in equipment, you are not going to be able to supply what the plant needs."

But, before adding irrigation to the farm, growers need to have a solid background and understanding of concepts, like how irrigation works and how to design an irrigation system.

Overhead Irrigation Basics workshop will be held Dec. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EST) at the Marshall County Office Building in Plymouth, IN. The meeting room is located on the third floor at the Purdue Extension office in room 304.

The workshop flyer and registration form are downloadable at: http://www.ces.purdue.edu/anr/documents/2007/IrrBasicsWorkshop%2012-13-07.pdf. To register by phone, contact the Purdue Extension office in Marshall County at 574-935-8545. The registration fee is $10/person, which includes materials, refreshments and lunch, and is due by Dec. 11.
Certified Crop Advisors can earn four continuing education units (CEUs) in soil and water management by attending this workshop.

"The workshop will start out with a few basics, like looking at the factors that lead into whether irrigation is a good investment," Kelley said.

Program topics and speakers include:
* 9:45 a.m.: Irrigation water requirements and water source options, Kelley
* 10:30 a.m.: Indiana water use regulations, Mark Basch, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Water
* 11 a.m.: Energy options for irrigation and irrigation energy use, Kelley
* 11:15 a.m.: Overhead irrigation application equipment options, Kelley
* 11:45 a.m.: Irrigation system design project, Bob Yoder, Purdue Extension educator
* Noon: Lunch
* 1 p.m.: Irrigation system design reports, Yoder
* 1:30 p.m.: Irrigation system design and dealer bid example, Tom Frank, Chester Inc.
* 2 p.m.: Overview and considerations of sprinkler options, Kelley
* 2:15 p.m.: Calculating irrigation equipment and operating costs, Kelley
* 2:45 p.m.: Irrigation economics, Gene Matzat, Purdue Extension educator
* 3:15 p.m.: Irrigation tools for stewardship and wrap-up, Kelley

Kelley explained that irrigating is like having a bank account.

"When irrigating a crop, we are replacing water the plant used and took out of the soil profile," Kelley said. "When we talk about that, we are actually using our soil as though it’s a bank to hold the water over the winter and the early spring.

"As we get into summer our crop starts using more water than our bank has and that’s when we want to use irrigation to replace the water and make up for the deficit that’s there."

The equipment chosen needs to be able to replace that water, and for corn this is typically 5 gal. water/minute/acre, according to Kelley.

"In order to irrigate 100 acres, it would require a 500-gal. pump," Kelley said. "That pump should operate six and half days a week and replace all the water the crop would use during the hottest part of the summer at peak water use."

For questions and more information, contact Kelley at 269-467-5511 or kelleyl@msu.edu. A map can be downloaded at: http://www.ces.purdue.edu/Marshall/.

Individuals interested in similar meetings who cannot attend this workshop should contact Deanna Mumby in St. Joseph County at 269-467-5511.