Effective Irrigation Management Maximizes Corn Yields
Feb 11, 2019
From establishment to harvest, effective water management is important at each stage of corn growth.
“Applying the correct amount of water at the correct time is critical for optimal corn production,” said James Han, FieldNET Advisor solutions specialist at Lindsay Corporation. “Overwatering or underwatering will negatively impact yields – that’s why irrigation scheduling is so important.”
To effectively plan irrigation, growers must account for many factors, including crop type, hybrids, planting date, as-applied irrigation, rainfall (historic, current and forecasted), soil type, tillage practice, residual cover, water depletion and evapotranspiration - the total water use of a crop, including evaporation from the soil and transpiration by the plant.
“Corn plants demand more water as the leaf area increases, topping out near the tasseling stage,” Han said. “The most critical time for adequate moisture is before pollination through early grainfill, when the kernels begin to dent.”
Historically, growers have had to rely exclusively on visual inspections, use complex calculations or juggle multiple tools to track soil moisture at each growth stage for effective irrigation scheduling. In fact, estimates show that with different soil zones, weather conditions and management zones, a grower will need to track 55 million data points to get an accurate corn field soil moisture evaluation for a single season. But that’s no longer the case.
“FieldNET Advisor® is really all growers need,” Han said. “The technology does the work. It harnesses all of the critical inputs related to soil water balance and delivers field-specific irrigation recommendations, so growers know precisely when, where and how much to irrigate. Because the technology is seamlessly integrated into the powerful FieldNET® platform, growers can put their irrigation plans into action with a single click and track progress from virtually anywhere.”
Using proprietary crop growth models, FieldNET Advisor tracks the development of each hybrid, including critical development stages and root growth. It also continuously updates the crop’s forecasted maturity date, provides an estimate of any yield loss to date due to water stress and projects potential yield loss through crop maturity if no additional irrigation is applied.
“FieldNET Advisor takes the guesswork out of irrigation management,” Han said. “It does the work, so you don’t have to – maximizing yields while minimizing water usage and other input costs. More importantly, FieldNET Advisor saves growers time – extra hours for other important operational responsibilities.”
In addition to corn, FieldNET Advisor can be used on 20 other crops around the world, including alfalfa, barley, corn silage, cotton, dry edible beans, peanuts, popcorn, potatoes, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets, sweet corn, surgarcane, spring wheat and winter wheat.