A multi-state irrigation research project is improving irrigation efficiency on farms and ranches.

Among other things, microirrigation boosts corn silage production. Microirrigation, which uses tubing to apply water directly to the soil at the crop’s roots, boosted production over center pivot irrigation. Yield increased to 32 tons per acre from 28 tons. The water required dropped by 10 to 15 percent.

There is an advantage for dairy operators and those growing feed for them as well. Microirrigation can be applied to irregularly-shaped fields that are not suitable for center pivot irrigation. The system can also be used on the corners of pivot-irrigated fields that normally produce less because they can be difficult to water.

Microirrigation helps ranchers improve water-use efficiency on irrigated pastures, hay fields and all of irrigated crops. Microirrigation is being used in association with Anheuser-Busch’s global sustainability campaign by helping barley growers increase water use efficiency.