Project Background


  • Oklahoma State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Utah State University
  • University of California

Geographic locations of the project

  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah
  • California

Project Background

Flood irrigation systems (a.k.a. surface or gravity) have been used for agricultural production since irrigation started in the Mesopotamia several thousand years ago. Since then, more advanced irrigation systems (under sprinkler and drip categories) with potentially higher efficiencies have been developed and adopted. Despite technological advances, flood systems are still in use in many parts of the U.S. According to the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey, flood irrigation accounts for 33% of all irrigated lands and 43% of total irrigation water applications in the U.S. However, only 10% of federal financial assistance for irrigation best management practices has been dedicated to flood irrigation. Although conversion from flood to sprinkler and drip systems has happened in many regions and is still in progress, a large number of irrigated acres will remain under flood systems for a combination of hydrologic, agricultural, social, and economic reasons. Hence, it is important to not overlook flood systems and to foster efforts towards improving water conservation in these systems. The goal of the present project is to evaluate, demonstrate, and transfer innovative technologies that can result in water conservation in flood systems by conducting coordinated extension activities among partners from southern to western U.S. The perception of producers and the sociocultural factors that influence their acceptance of conservation technologies will also be evaluated to increase the likelihood of adoption. The project has four specific objectives: i) to evaluate the social dimensions of adopting conservation technologies; and, to evaluate and transfer effective and affordable conservation technologies and management practices related to ii) water delivery (e.g. canal automation); iii) water use (e.g. sensor-based irrigation scheduling) and iv) water removal (e.g., tailwater recovery and reuse) components of flood systems. Sufficiently studied technologies developed in the U.S. and Australia will be evaluated and transferred by establishing demonstration sites and disseminating the results using conventional and innovative outreach approaches. The unique characteristics of flood systems in the four collaborating states allow for identification and evaluation of technologies that can be adopted in other parts of the U.S.