Water-saving devices are available to growers at reduced cost
WESLACO — South Texas growers interested in learning more about surge-valve irrigation are invited to a demonstration of the water-saving device at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
The free event will take place from 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 13 at the center, located at 2415 E. State Highway 83.
“Few people have seen these surge-valve devices in action,” said Dr. Juan Anciso, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service fruit and vegetable specialist who is among the day’s speakers. “We’ll have one set up in one of our grain sorghum field plots where we’ll demonstrate how it works, then have a question-and-answer session to discuss the pros and cons.”
The demonstration is being presented by AgriLife Extension, the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority.
Surge valves send alternating pulses of water to different parts of a field to provide more even and efficient distribution, according to Dr. Juan Enciso, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer at Weslaco.
The Surge Valve Cooperative, an initiative of the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority, which is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, is accepting applications from up to 32 growers interested in surge valves at a discounted price, according to Ashley Gregory, an AgriLife Extension assistant for water programs.
“Thanks to a grant obtained by the Water Authority, the $2,000 surge valves are available to 32 participating growers at a cost of $350,” she said. “They can buy up to two valves, which allow them to irrigate about 50 acres per valve.”
Participating growers must still attend training on their use on either Sept. 17 or Sept. 18.
“This is a good water conservation tool for growers who furrow irrigate with poly pipe,” Anciso said. “It can not only save water, it can also increase productivity.”
Demonstration projects conducted by the Texas Ag Water Efficiency Project documented water savings of up to 52 percent in sugarcane, 31 percent in corn and 28 percent in cotton, Anciso said.
Enciso said his studies have shown surge-valve irrigation has many advantages.
“It reduces water use and water waste, water advances faster to the lower end of the field and it distributes fertilizer more uniformly and closer to the soil surface, avoiding leaching of fertilizer,” he said. “We’ll discuss what it takes to set these up and keep them working properly. But with the water shortages we’ve experienced in prolonged droughts over the years, this technology is worth looking into.”