Read the current Progressive Forage digital edition


Discover the latest irrigation systems, technological advances and practices to help you get the most from your water supply.


Mature, healthy and productive alfalfa stands have developed an extensive crown and root system, enabling the crop to withstand adverse climatic conditions such as drought.

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Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest.

Mike Hansen’s wife kept asking him if there was any way he could stop flooding the driveway at the end of their pasture. 

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Growing concern over a worsening world water crisis has brought even greater scrutiny to production agriculture’s thirst for water. That’s no surprise since agriculture consumes about 75 percent of the world’s water supply, according to estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme.

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There are two important components of irrigation water management:

1. Knowing when and how much water to apply to the crop
2. Irrigating so that most of the applied water is available to the crop

In this article we will focus on knowing how much water to apply.

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Irrigation water is essential for profitable crop production in most of the arid West.

Proper irrigation management is key for high yields and to avoid stress from too much or too little water. Improper irrigation management limits yields more often and to a greater degree than any other production factor.

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The main purpose for irrigating is to supply needed water for crops.

Plant growth is dependent on photosynthesis. While the plant exchanges gases with the air for photosynthesis, some water evaporates. Water is taken up from the soil by plant roots to replace this water. The water leaving the plant is called transpiration.

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